From the former head chef of London’s renowned NOPI comes a soup cookbook unlike any other; with a focus on the revitalizing health benefits of soup, Ultimate Soup Cleanse offers over sixty delicious, healthy, restorative soup cleanse recipes to fit any lifestyle.
There is just something about soup: it has the ability both to revitalize and to soothe; it’s packed with nutrition and offers variety, deliciousness, and comfort; it’s also a fantastic aid for weight-loss and improving digestion.
Discover all that soup can do for you in this healthful guide packed with over sixty delicious, nutritious recipes, all organized into four different categories of soup cleanses—Reduce, Restore, Renew, and Resolve. Recipes as varied as asparagus mimosa soup, saffron broth with prawns, and smoked aubergine and kefir soup are all part of the Reduce cleanse, proving that losing weight by eating nutritious, filling soups is not only possible, but also delicious. And hot cucumber with barley soup and wild garlic & baby spinach with olive soup are both tasty, healthy meals as part of the two-day Resolve cleanse and perfect to attempt over the weekend. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you could sample an array of recipes from the five-day Renew cleanse, such as barley bone broth, mussels and leek soup, or wild rice, edamame, and rainbow chard soup.
Whether you’re swapping a stale sandwich at lunchtime for a vibrant bowl full of grains and greens that will help you lose weight, or relaxing at home over a velvety blend of Jerusalem artichoke and fennel soup to help strengthen digestion—it’s always the right time for soup.
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About the Author
Nicole Pisani has worked as head chef at Yotam Ottolenghi’s Soho restaurant NOPI and Anna Hansen’s Modern Pantry in London. Her passion is creating healthy and vibrant dishes with interesting ingredients and spice combinations. Visit FoodForHappiness.co.uk.
Kate Adams is a health writer and the author of The Flat Tummy Club Diet. She lost thirty-five pounds by eating recipes from Magic Soup.
Read an Excerpt
The Ultimate Soup Cleanse
For us, a cleanse is a way to bring ourselves back into balance. You know the feeling you get when you have been overindulging for too long, or you wish you could get up in the morning with a little more spring in your step and feeling more energized? Or when you know your digestive system is struggling—you might feel bloated or sluggish, or perhaps intolerant to foods that you can enjoy with no problems when you’re on vacation.
When we’re willing to listen, our bodies give us the signs we need to know that a few days of simple eating and simple living are a good idea. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not always easy to slow down; many of us tend to get away with constantly running on empty, with the occasional vacation here and there to top off our reserves. Taking the time to restore, replenish, and look after your body feels like a luxury, but when you do give yourself this gift, the benefits will last.
Signs that you might benefit from a cleanse:
• Decreased energy
• Feeling tired after eating
• Suffering from constipation, loose stools, or irregular bowel movements
• Having a foggy brain
• Having trouble sleeping or finding it hard to wake up
• Feeling anxious or stressed
• Craving specific foods or feeling a dependence on certain foods
• Feeling bloated
• Experiencing weight gain
• Feeling generally “off” your game
A cleanse aims for:
• A renewed sense of vitality and clarity
• Supporting a sustained healthy weight
• Promoting deep and restorative sleep
• Regular, healthy bowel movements
• Energy throughout the day
• A positive, balanced relationship with food
• Feeling revitalized and enthusiastic about life
“The transformation that occurs in the cauldron is quintessential and wondrous, subtle and delicate.”
I YIN (239 BC)
Soup came into being about five millennia ago when humans began to farm and cultivate food in addition to hunting and gathering it; this marked a crucial stage in human development. When people began to put different ingredients into a pot with water over the heat of the fire, they created broths and stews. The discovery of boiling and simmering foods together meant that a much greater variety of plants and grains could be combined and eaten. Meat provided even more nutrition when the bones were boiled.
These bone broths became the basis of the first restaurants, which appeared in Paris in the eighteenth century. Their name came from the fact that they served restaurants, which were usually meat consommés or bouillons that would help “restore” a person’s strength and vitality—or cure a hangover. Bone-based broths have been used across cultures for centuries as healing remedies. Soup has long been a healing centerpiece used by various traditional medicines. In Ayurveda, a soup (kitchari) cleanse is undertaken to help restore digestive “fire,” which is not only related to how our body digests the food we eat but also to all our thoughts and emotions. Supporting the health of this fire, or agni, is a way of supporting our overall health.
In Chinese medicine, it has been thought for thousands of years that consuming a bowl of soup before each meal is beneficial to one’s health. Contemporary research suggests that this practice leads to eating fewer calories over the course of the day.
So soups are not just restorative, they’re also a great choice if you want to lose weight healthily. In fact, when it comes to eating well, variety has been shown to be a crucial factor for making positive long-term changes and choices. We enjoy a food trend as much as anyone—our cupboards and refrigerator are filled with coconut oil, kale, and various seeds—but we also love the simplicity and the purpose of soup. It is restoring; it is clean and comforting. It also turns out that soup has even more than the test of time on its side when it comes to weight-loss benefits.
Soup has been shown by researchers to keep us fuller for longer per calorie compared when eating the same ingredients in a “dry” dish, like a salad. This is because soup takes up more room in the stomach, which turns off ghrelin, the appetite or “hunger” hormone, quicker than a salad does. Specific cells in the stomach wall release ghrelin when the stomach is empty. Ghrelin then travels via the bloodstream to the brain’s appetite center, the hypothalamus, and tells you that you are hungry. When your stomach is full, ghrelin is no longer released and so the appetite signal is turned off. Soup takes more time to leave the stomach, which is why you stay satisfied for longer.
When you cook from scratch, you tend to eat more natural foods that have undergone less processing. You also know exactly what you are putting into your body. You become more aware of how certain foods make you feel. Despite scientists’ best efforts, there really is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to knowing which diet is best for everyone. Some people have no problem digesting dairy products, for example, while others have an adverse reaction to milk or butter. Wheat isn’t the evil enemy it’s made out to be for all of us. For some people, it’s the industrial, processed ingredients that cause bloating or a stomachache. When we bake our own bread, using locally grown and milled flours from grains other than just wheat, we discover that we don’t have to go through life without bread or pastries.
A key to keeping up healthy habits beyond just a few days is to be adventurous and explore new foods and ways of cooking. Nicole has recently become obsessed with sea spaghetti (seaweed shaped like spaghetti). She uses it alongside noodles, in salads, combined with lentils—and more. It just so happens to be mineral rich and wonderfully good for you, too.
The art of preparing food to take care of your inner temple is soul replenishing. Feeling good about treating yourself well, to present your food to yourself with those little touches like a sprinkle of toasted nuts and seeds or a drizzle of herb-infused oil, makes the cleanse a gift rather than a sacrifice. Take time out of your day to sit down to eat, and be mindful of what you are eating and how you are feeling. This will help you enjoy the journey as much as the end result.
Bircher muesli, a mixture of grains, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds, gets its name from Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, who was a Swiss physician and pioneer in nutritional research. In 1904, Dr. Bircher-Benner set up a sanatorium called Vital Force, based on the German lifestyle reform movement that espouses the idea of living in harmony with nature. Instead of the standard diet of meat and potatoes, Bircher-Benner recommended eating more fruit, vegetables, and nuts.
The more we can live with an awareness of nature, the better it is for our bodies, too. This is what the healthiest cultures in the world have been doing for thousands of years. The Mediterranean diet is based on what’s available and grown in the region—olive oil, fish, grains, and vegetables. For the people of Japan, it’s fish, rice, and seaweed. A Korean meal wouldn’t be complete without kimchi, a traditional condiment made from fermented vegetables and spices.
The people of these cultures eat what is naturally available to them. We feel just as passionate about all the amazing foods grown in our own countries—for Kate that’s the United Kingdom and for Nicole it’s the island of Malta. In the United Kingdom, berries, game, fish, wild mushrooms, nuts, and herbs have been consumed for centuries. Malta is an island of sunshine, a land with an abundance of ripe tomatoes, figs, olives, fish, and local sourdough bread. We have an abundance of foods available to us year round, and as soon as you tap into choosing as many unprocessed foods as possible, you begin to notice and experience the vibrancy and vitality of these foods.
Nature has a way of providing us with foods that are especially good for us at certain times of the year. During the autumn and winter months, there are plenty of ingredients that are perfect for warming soups and stews: carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips. In spring, nutrient-rich leafy greens are found in abundance, and in summer, when we need cooling foods, there are cucumbers and lettuces. If you eat what is seasonally available in your own region and climate, you will naturally eat much of what your body needs and wants at a particular time of year.
Autumn and winter are not times when the body instinctively wants to cleanse, but with so many of us enjoying the holiday season and all the treats that come with it, it is a time when we need to balance out our overindulgences. We tend to feel hungrier in cold weather to keep warm and take care of our immune systems, so going on a 100% raw-food diet at this time might be a little more than our already strained digestive system can handle. This is why eating soup is such a great way to cleanse; it’s the ideal solution for eating a little less, eating natural ingredients, and eating foods that nourish our digestion back to optimum function.
Tips for your autumn or winter cleanse:
• Keep warm. Take baths and wear layers of natural cotton or wool clothing and thick socks or slippers in the evening.
• Stick to warming foods like soups rather than cold juices. If you enjoy a raw salad, balance it with a warm soup first or eat some fermented vegetables such as kimchi or sauerkraut.
• Drink plenty of herbal teas.
• Create a vision board for the new year (page 10).
We don’t think it’s a coincidence that spring is a time of deep cleaning on all fronts—from the house to our diets to life in general. During the winter, we need to conserve our energy, while in spring that energy can be harnessed and put into action as the days become a little warmer and longer and signs of life appear all around us in nature. Many of the green shoots—such as nettle tops, dandelion greens, and pea shoots—that begin to grow during spring are ideal ingredients for clean eating. Summer means long days and an endless harvest of all kinds of fruits and vegetables.
Tips for spring and summer cleansing:
• Think green in the spring and add vibrant greens to your meals wherever possible.
• If your digestion feels strong, add raw garnishes to your soups, such as sprouted seeds, grated carrots, and shaved fennel.
• Get outside as much as you can to take advantage of the increasing levels of natural light.
• Sow seeds in your garden, a window box, or windowsill pots to harvest later in the season.
• On warm or hot days, eat lighter choices and chilled soups.
Quite often, when we think of healthy eating, we think of having to cut out all the things we like and to try our best to stay on a diet for as long as possible before desperation or boredom gets the better of us. We hope that the ideas and recipes within these pages will prove to you that healthy food can make you feel good and inspired. This is the key to a happy, healthy relationship with what we eat and how we feel about ourselves and our bodies. Love food, love your body.
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”
JEAN ANTHELME BRILLAT-SAVARIN
We need to be willing to listen and sometimes talk to ourselves when we are on the road to making healthier choices. Our bodies and minds aren’t always in unison. With so many prepared foods at our fingertips, the temptations never really go away.
Mindfulness is a strong ally when it comes to changing our eating and living habits. It is easy for days to go by in a blur, as we get through what we need to do on autopilot and look forward to that moment at the end of a busy day when we can sit down for a couple of minutes. We often forget to have breakfast, grab lunch without thinking, and focus more on what we’re going to do next rather than what we’re doing right now. Often, we spend our time looking forward to those few days of relaxation and vacation each year, counting down the weeks to when we can finally put our feet up, only to then put pressure on ourselves to have the perfect vacation!
When you begin to cultivate mindfulness, you bring a little more calm and relaxation into everyday life, while at the same time being more observant about how you feel at any moment, noticing what and how you are eating and giving yourself a bit of space before making choices. At the end of a hard day’s work, your body will all too easily rely on old habits for finding comfort, whether your habit happens to be ordering a pizza or having a glass of wine. All mindfulness does is allow you to observe those habits and the feelings or triggers attached to them so that you can then ask yourself what it is that you really want in order to feel good, to sleep well and wake up energized.
Mindfulness also encourages us to slow down while we are eating and instead of grabbing something on the run and hardly noticing what we are eating as we gulp it down, we turn off external distractions (yes, smartphones) and concentrate on our meal, enjoying each mouthful. When you respect food in this way, even if just for the few minutes it takes to have a meal, you respect your body and the relationship between the two.
Brian Wansink from Cornell University has conducted various studies on the relationship between our minds and our eating habits. In one, he was interested to find out what triggered people to stop eating, so he created a special soup bowl that could be continuously refilled via an invisible tube. His research team set up a table laid out half with bottomless bowls and half with normal bowls and let the participants sit down to eat and chat together for 20 minutes. They were then asked to give their opinions about the soup to the researchers. In just 20 minutes, those participants with a bottomless bowl had consumed an average of 75 percent more soup than those with regular bowls. This suggested that a major trigger that tells us to stop eating is when we have finished our food, rather than an awareness of how much we have eaten. So if we can improve our awareness and also keep an eye on the size of our portions, we have a good chance of improving our eating habits while enjoying what we are eating.
You will notice quite a bit of variety in our soup cleanse recipes. This is partly because Nicole is a chef and loves the challenge of creating recipes that are delicious, healthy, and don’t leave you feeling hungry, but also because variety keeps you mindful about what you are eating. You could easily eat the same two soups every day for a week and lose weight. The problem is that you won’t have changed any long-term habits and you won’t have had to think about what you’re eating throughout the cleanse. With a variety of ingredients and choices, you’re taking your diet and way of living into your own hands. As a result, you’ll notice more easily how your body feels after eating certain foods, and what your body wants in order to feel really good.
Before you eat, take a few moments to use your senses to appreciate your meal. Breathe in the aromas of the food, take in its appearance with your eyes. As you cook, enjoy the rhythm of chopping and stirring, bringing ingredients and flavors together.
Writing things down always helps to make them stick in our minds and our habits. It may be as simple as keeping a food and exercise diary of everything you have eaten and how many steps you have taken during the day; this kind of awareness feeds our motivation. A vision board is also a great way to visualize a healthier lifestyle, with gorgeous photos of ingredients and recipes and places you’d like to go. This kind of gentle monitoring and checking in has been shown to help with changing habits for the long term.
Don’t leave healthy habits entirely to the mercy of your willpower, as it’s a finite resource that is easily used up, particularly by the usual stressful events that we need to tackle on a daily basis. Being prepared is one of the best ways to help your willpower; i.e., the fewer temptations you have in your cupboards at home and the more delicious healthy foods you have on hand, the better. Don’t put off lunch, and never eat at your computer; the more you savor your food, the more nutrition you will absorb. A smile is half the meal.