Soups are Souper for the Nutritarian (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves)

May 21, 2016 by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Soups are super foods in a healthy diet. A wide variety of nutritious ingredients are available to make a soup so that even the picky eater can be pleased. Soups taste good, look good, are easy on the budget and, made with the right ingredients, are health boosting. Soups, along with salads, are an essential part of the Nutritarian diet, and for good reason. Vegetable and bean soups and stews are nutrient-rich, flavorful, and easy to prepare. They can be served as a complement to a meal or as the centerpiece.

Soups can easily be cooked in bulk to provide several days worth of leftovers, convenient to have on hand at home or to take along to work or school. Soups and stews are warming, satisfying and satiating, and can widen your nutrient diversity. They can be made from a variety of fresh, frozen or even leftover ingredients and allow for experimentation in a pot, pressure cooker, slow cooker or even right in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender.

Soups Stacked with Health Benefits

Since soups are gently cooked with a liquid base, nutrients are retained and some are made more absorbable. Many nutrients, like vitamin B12, niacin, folate, and a range of minerals, are water soluble. Normally, with water-based cooking, like boiling, water-soluble nutrients are leached into the cooking water and discarded. However, with soups, the liquid and the water-soluble nutrients are retained and consumed.

  • Cooking soup heats, moisturizes, and softens vegetables and beans, which dramatically increases the potential digestibility and absorption of the nutritious compounds contained within them. Recent studies confirm that the body absorbs more of the beneficial anti-cancer compounds, carotenoids in particular, especially lutein and lycopene, from cooked vegetables as compared to raw vegetables.
  • Scientists speculate that the increase in absorption of these antioxidants after cooking may be attributed to the destruction of the cell matrix or connective bands to which these compounds are bound.
  • Cooking vegetables in soups break down the cellulose within them and alters the plants’ cell structures, which facilitates digestion.
  • This way of cooking also prevents foods from browning and forming toxic compounds, such as acrylamide, which is formed in dry, high-temperature cooking, like baking, frying, and grilling, and is a potential carcinogen.

Cooking Healthy Soups

For superior nutrition, become an expert at making great soups.

Make your soups with some of the G-BOMBS: greens, beans, onions, and mushrooms, which are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet and combine so well in a big pot for a super nutritious and savory meal!

Start your soups with a base of water and fresh vegetable juice, like carrot, celery or tomato juice or a no-salt-added vegetable broth, with less than 200 mg of sodium per cup. Next, add some dry beans, as they take the longest to cook. Then, add some onions, leeks or other members of the Allium family, leafy green vegetables, other vegetables that you have on hand, and some herbs, spices or fruits like parsley, black pepper or lemon. See the Eat to Live Cookbook for a full list of soup and stew “mix and match” ingredients and recipes.

Include some cruciferous vegetables into the mix, such as kale, bok choy or cabbage. Chop or blend most of the vegetables before adding them to the pot to form organosulfur compounds in the onions and isothiocyanates (ITCs) in the cruciferous vegetables, which are very important disease-fighting phytochemicals..

Read more about organosulfur compounds and ITCs in chapter 4 of The End of Dieting.

Blend a small amount of nuts into the soup to make a creamier soup. With a paid membership, you can try recipes in our Recipe Guide. Some sample soup recipes, Tomato Bisque or Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup, are Nutritarian classics. There are about 1500 recipes in the Recipe Guide and over 200 of them are soup and stew recipes!

Use these and other recipes to make a variety of sou, Cook a large pot of soup at least once a week and store leftovers in individual containers, in the refrigerator for five days or longer in the freezer.

If you have only limited time for food preparation, you may be interested in Dr. Fuhrman’s G-BOMBS Soups, which are convenient and especially handy for traveling and work. Be wary of commercially-available canned soups as they are often high in sodium.

Soup’s on! Quick, hot, tasty and nutrient dense—soups in all of their varieties are a great way to experience the pleasures of the Nutritarian diet.

For easy instruction, see our Soup Infographic.


Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
For over 25 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.