Chicken-less Soup for the Soul

As summer is sunsetting, my husband and I are looking forward to squeezing in a bit more Lake Michigan beach time with loved ones.

Moving away from family and friends in 2021 means that gatherings are less spontaneous and occur mostly on weekend visits. The memories we make feed the soul and usually involve comfort food.  If we don’t plan, we’ll end up eating too much processed food during these gatherings, which leaves the immune system more vulnerable.

Processed foods are loaded with junk oils and chemical toxins.  The buildup of chemical toxins in our tissues and blood stream can stagnate the immune system. Given the cold and flu season are around the corner, it’s vital to feed the immune system with healthy plant foods.

Deep down, most of us know that food impacts our health from head to soul. Think about chicken soup. Mothers throughout the ages have turned to chicken soup to help everything from the sniffles to a broken heart, with good reason:  It’s the ultimate healthy comfort food, and it’s easy to make at home.

While no research has proven that chicken soup cures a cold or flu, according to the National Institutes of Health, research suggests that ingredients in chicken soup, such as the mirepoix of onions, celery, and carrots, can reduce the inflammation associated with the common cold.

I now prepare chicken soup chicken-less; it’s more nutritious due to the absence of inflammatory saturated fat.  And in my soul I feel nourished knowing that healthy eating can happen without harming a feather on another’s head.

 Chicken-less Soup

This super simple recipe is quick and loaded with nutrition. The star ingredient is soy curls. Non-GMO soy curls are a great meat alternative made by boiling and dehydrating soybeans. The process is totally natural, which makes them a whole food and not a processed synthetic meat product. I am fortunate to live near a vegetarian grocery store that sells them in bulk. If you can’t find soy curls in your area, you can easily order them online.

Soy curls typically need to be rehydrated in warm water for 10 minutes before use, but when using them in soups, you can skip that step and throw them into the pot straight from the package. The texture is almost indistinguishable from chicken and takes on the flavor of the dish, just as chicken does.

Ingredients

8 cups water or vegetable broth

4 teaspoons minced garlic or 4 chopped cloves

3 tablespoons white miso

1-2 teaspoons sea salt or salt to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon pepper

3 stalks celery, diced

2 large carrots, chopped

2 medium onions, diced

¾ cup quinoa

6 ounces dry soy curls (once hydrated, equates to about 1 pound of chicken) broken into bite size pieces

 Directions

In a large pot or pressure cooker, bring water or broth to a low boil. As water is heating, dice and chop the vegetables. Add miso and spices to warm water and stir until miso is dissolved. Add vegetables, quinoa, and soy curls.

If cooking on stovetop, cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is soft.

If cooking in a pressure cooker, cover, and using manual settings, set timer for 8 minutes.

Superfood option: add fresh herbs, chopped spinach, or Swiss chard after soup is done.

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