Soup as Medicine

We all have heard that we should eat chicken soup when we’re feeling sick, but why did chicken soup become the go-to cliché in the first place? Though it won’t necessarily cure every ailment, chicken soup typically has several highly nutritious elements that give your body the help it needs to boost your immune system. Whether you want to make a classic-style chicken soup or something more exciting, you can make your own homemade “medicine” using simple ingredients and techniques. Let’s look at which nutritional elements will help you learn how to make soup into medicine and fight off those nasty colds!


  • The number one priority when you are sick is to make sure to stay hydrated; to do this, you have to not only drink enough water and fluids but also make sure you consume enough sodium electrolytes, essentially salt. A bouillon-base soup will give you plenty of this mineral, and will help soothe a sore throat as well. To get enough of the other electrolytes, especially magnesium and potassium, try to include ingredients like spinach, potatoes, lentils, black beans, rice, and broccoli.
  • Bone broth is another excellent source of electrolytes, with high doses of all of the electrolyte minerals in each serving. Try making it at home or buy some prepared at your favorite grocery store–it gives even the simplest soup an amazing depth of flavor!


  • Protein is essential when you’re sick because it keeps your physiological systems running well, and protein sources high in the amino acid cysteine are especially ideal. Cysteine is effective for decreasing mucus production and for anti-inflammatory benefits, which will help you feel less congested and sore from a cold. Meat and fish are the best sources of this amino acid, but if you’d prefer not to use meat lentils, soybeans, and buckwheat are good vegetarian options and very inexpensive, too!

Allicin & Gingerols

  • Allicin is the compound produced in crushed or chewed garlic and onions and gingerol is the compound that makes up ginger. These both have strongly anti-inflammatory properties which will help diminish the effects of a cold. Plus, these ingredients taste delicious–it’s probably not the best idea to kiss people when you’re feeling sick so feel free to add as much onion and garlic as you want!

Bonus: Steam from a hot bowl of soup will help open up congested nasal passages!



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