Soup for the Soul: Exploring the Therapeutic Benefits of Soup-Making

Most of us have heard of the Chicken Soup For The Soul books. There seems to be a book geared toward everyone from cat lovers to teachers. No matter what the population each individual book is about, the one thing they all have in common is the chicken soup part. We know that chicken soup is good for us, and so are reading the stories in the books, They inspire us, warm our hearts, make us feel good about our fellow humans.

So the books are aptly named, using the most beloved and soothing of soups as the catalyst. But it’s not just the eating of chicken, and other soups that’s good for us.

The entire process of soup making can be therapeutic from a mental health standpoint.

In this blog we will explore how creating a pot of homemade soup can be a form of stress relief and improve our everyday lives. We will also offer some practical tips and techniques on how to incorporate soup making a therapeutic part of your everyday life.

Cooking As Therapy

Our moms, grandmas, and the ancestors that came before all knew that the kitchen was as good as any therapists couch. It’s where you to have serious talks or discuss problems. It seems like most of our problems are solved around a kitchen table.

Chances are while the talking was happening, everyone was given a potato to peel or a some carrots to chop. It was more than preparation for dinner, it was a way to distract, make things easier to get out and talk about, to busy nervous hands.

In recent years, the professional mental health community has finally acknowledged what our grandmas knew all along. According to The Wall Street Journal, therapists are now recommending cooking as a way to reduce depression and anxiety.

Cooking and baking are used as an integral part of recovery programs as well. It not only teaches people about proper nutrition and healthy eating habits, but gives them a sense for control over their environment. This is a major factor in mental and emotional issues such as eating disorders and substance abuse disorders.

How Can Making Soup Calm Your Mind And Heal Your Soul?

Physical Health Promotes Mental Health

Now that we’re familiar with how good in general can be helpful, let’s focus on one of our favorites – soup. Of course eating soup has many health and nutritional benefits. Certain soups contain ingredients that are known to:

  • boost immunity
  • lower blood pressure
  • help during pregnancy
  • open nasal passages
  • relieve congestion
  • hydrate
  • cure hangovers
  • have anti-inflammatory effects

These are just a few more things of the things that a wonderful bowl of soup can help with. This is actually a positive step for one’s mental health, because when you feel better physically you’re less likely to be depressed and have anxiety.

How The Process Of Making Soup Helps Us Mentally And Emotionally

The process of making soup is truly one of the most stress relieving cooking activities we can do. That is, if you let be. It all starts with mindfulness. This is ancient Buddhist practice of being aware of your surroundings, observing with all the senses, and being present in the moment.

The goal is to focus on the task at hand, without reaction or judgment. Being mindful is the basis to therapeutic soup making. From there, you can bring the physical process of making your meal and benefit from what’s to come. The soup making ritual can unleash a ton of benefits, let’s explore a few.

1. Physical Release

You know how when we are sometimes upset, we have the urge to maybe throw something, scream, or release our frustration in another physical way. Well, the chopping of vegetables, pounding and tenderizing of meat, whisking, stirring, and other actions that are involved in the making of soup can be a great replacement to breaking a plate.

Also, by prepping, your mind can focus on the food tasks, and not other issues that may be causing you stress.

2. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a proven technique that is used to calm anxiety. When we make soup, we are taking in the fragrant smells of herbs and spices as we dice and mince. We’re getting the refreshing aroma of fresh vegetables as we chop them. Sauteing is another part of the process that can fill our noses with glee. Once the soup is simmering, the entire house fills with its sweet scent.

3. Allows For Creativity And Artistic Expression

Making a soup from scratch is really an original creation. Even if you’re recreating an existing recipe, you can add or subtract whatever you like and make it your own. Whether its spices, changing meats, the size of the veggies, etc. Making soup is one of the few dishes that allow for total originality from start to finish.

4. Sights And Sounds Can Boost Your Mood

Things like colorful vegetables, fresh, flowery herbs, and the end product of a gorgeous pot of soup can naturally boost one’s mood. So can listening to the bubbling of water, simmering, frying, and sauteing.

All the sights and sounds we take in while preparing soup can help rekindle fond memories, and reduce our anxiety, much the same as listening to ocean waves, or watching flowers sway in the breeze.

5. Sense Of Pride And Accomplishment Always Helps Our Mental Health

Perhaps the best metal health benefit that making soup gives us, is the sense of pride and accomplishment. That we’ve created this delicious pot of food to feed our families and ourselves is something to be proud of.

You chose to cook from scratch, with love and care, and health in mind, rather than order out or put a frozen dinner in the microwave. You made something with your own two hands, that your family will get use for nutrition, and that is a big deal. We all need something to be proud of in our daily lives.

Tips For Incorporating Soup Making As A Therapeutic Practice In Everyday Life

Now this does not mean that you need to make a big pot of soup every day. But you can easily do some soup related prep in anticipation of making your next pot. Some things you can do are:

1. Research and develop soup recipes in your spare time. Grab an old-fashioned cookbook or Google. Search for recipes and ingredients. Try writing them down instead of copying and pasting.

2. When shopping, stop at the spice section. Take your time to peruse the ingredients and see if there’s anything that might work well with your next pit. Also, when shopping, look for little gadgets that might help in your soup making.

3. If you have leftovers from another meal, rather than tossing them, consider how you could incorporate them into a soup.

4. If you’re having some anxiety or need to unwind after a bad day, prep some ingredients for your next soup excursion. Mince some garlic, chop some carrots, measure out dry ingredients. Little things can help distract and help us chill.

5. Share your soup with friends and neighbors. If you have extra, sharing is a great way to feel good about yourself. Also, soup is the best dish you can make for someone who is sick, or in need. It’s guaranteed to make both of you feel better.

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