Written by John Immel,
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The Healing Power of SoupsSoups are warm, soft, and supportive. They boost immunity, are hydrating, and generally easy to digest. Their slow and careful brew fills a home with alluring fragrance. That's why a grandma cooks soup for her grandchildren when they are sick. Soups are made with love and are a symbol of grandma's nurturing touch. Soups are perhaps the first medicine; part of a simple, wholesome diet, enjoyed by billions of people on earth every day.
Whenever life seems difficult or your body is run down by stress, emotions, or ailments, soups are a healing balm. Soups are grounding, the food equivalent of a tender hug. They provide restoration during times of stress and sickness. They are soothing to many ailments.
A Convenient Lunch - Should I Choose Soup or Sandwiches?Soups and sandwiches are both convenient options for lunch, but healthwise soups are nearly opposite to sandwiches. Sandwiches are dry. They usually have bad food combinations, are served cold, and are difficult to digest. Soups on the other hand, have many medicinal benefits.
Soups Boost ImmunityGrandma's chicken soup doesn't have any high-tech chemicals, compounds, or derivatives that prevent the common cold. So how does it work?
The immune system is in the blood. Improving blood flow therefore improves immunity. Served warm, chicken soup opens the sweat channels and improves circulation. The effect is augmented by pungent spices like black pepper, and vasodilators like cloves.
Soups Rest the Digestive TractFighting bacterial invasion for long periods of time eventually depletes strength. Resting when you are sick means 1) resting your muscles (on the couch) and 2) resting your digestive tract with simple, nourishing, easy-to-digest food choices like soups.
The long, slow cooking process gently breaks down food, making nutrients more available. It requires less work for the body to digest soup, reserving more energy to fight disease.
Soups Build Ojas
Ojas is the Ayurvedic word for the the heartiness your body needs to fight disease. Soups have plenty of ojas. Good ojas means good immunity. Ojas provides the foundation of both your immunity and physical prowess.
Meat closely resembles our bodily tissues and is the best way to replace depleted ojas. Chicken is preferred for sick patients because it is easier to digest than red meat. There are many hearty vegetarian soups as well, such as kitchari, which can be preferred for clients who need to cleanse or reduce kapha to fight infection.
Kitchariis Ayurveda's vegetarian version of chicken soup and has been used by convalescing patients successfully for thousands of years. Kitchari's ingredients are medicine - ghee reduces fever and moistens tissues. Rice digests in a snap while black pepper stimulates circulation. Mung bean cleanses the colon and is a relatively easy to digest bean when skinned and split.
Why Grandma Likes Chicken Soup
The increased blood flow, decreased effort to digest, and nurturing Ojas are the keys to Grandma's magical, immune-boosting soup. Broth also keeps the body hydrated and is readily assimilated.
Basic Soup Recipe (for 6 servings)Soups are easy to cook. Almost any ingredient can be included in a soup, potentially salvaging what might soon go bad in the fridge. Think of the age old Stone Soup tale in which a stewing pot of soup revives the generosity and connection of a community. Although soups can simmer on the stovetop for hours, the time investment can be as quick as the time it takes to chop a carrot. Chopping a carrot takes even less time than buying processed food at a restaurant or grocery store.
Here a basic model for making delicious soups:
Optional IngredientsYou may add one option from each line without ruining the soup:
Mistakes When Making SoupIf your soup doesn't taste good, it's usually one of the following reasons:
More Soup Tips
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EASYEasy refers to anything easy to digest, or digests quickly.
OJASOjas is the essence of healthy tissue, immunity, stable energy and happiness. Substances that improve ojas are recommended after long-term illness, debility, emotional and physical trauma, and even sadness.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.
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You are correct that reheating foods destroys prana. However, cooking all day destroys prana as well! There are always trade-offs. Also, techincally if the soup is hot all day it is not reheated - but prana is still diminshed. Thanks for asking!