Introducing the savory sibling to the beloved green smoothie, my Alkalizing Green Soup!
While you might be wondering why I would make a soup in the middle of summer, hear me out. Soup—no matter what time of year—is one of my favorite nourishing and healthy things to prepare. Most soups are relatively foolproof and can be thrown together in a matter of minutes (at the least the ones I make anyway). This one took me literally less than 15 minutes.
The best part about this recipe is that it changes depending on which green vegetables I have in our refrigerator at any given time. Plant-based meals are widely known to be healthful and even cleansing and the added bonus of this soup is can also be cleansing to your fridge! Nearly any green vegetable works beautifully so there’s no pressure to have the exact ingredients.
Again, even though you may think of soup as reserved for cooler months only, I promise this fresh and light meal will convert you to a summer soup lova. It is easy on the digestion, detoxifying, energizing, and alkalizing all at once. It’s also super delicious; really, it’s like a spoonful of healthy.
And here’s why…Our bodies rely on homeostatic mechanisms to help maintain a tightly regulated acid-alkaline balance in our blood and other body fluids. For our body to function optimally, it needs to keep its pH within a very tight range—ideally slightly alkaline—and this is metabolically managed by our kidneys. When we consume food, it either leads to more or less production of acid and one way this is quantified as the potential renal acid load (PRAL). Eating too many acid-forming foods (meat, sugar, dairy, soy, legumes, bread/grains) leads to a positive PRAL and forces our bodies to take measures to bring our systemic pH back within a normal range.
One thing that can be confusing is that all acidic foods are not necessarily acid forming. For example, lemons, limes, and apple cider vinegar are all acidic yet they are actually alkalizing to the body, meaning they produce a negative PRAL. This delicate balance is happening all the time and, lucky for us, our bodies are quite good at it.
Currently, more scientific research is needed to definitively determine if the alkalinity vs acidity of certain foods is what makes them inherently more healthful. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that certain disease states may be related to an imbalance of this acid-alkaline balance in the body and that consuming more alkaline-forming foods could have a beneficial effect. For example, following an alkaline diet (i.e. consuming more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and less meat, sugar, dairy, or soy) may lead to an increase in growth hormone, which may improve cardiovascular health, memory, and cognition.
Additionally, most alkaline foods are high in magnesium, which is essential for the function of many enzyme systems, including activating vitamin D (important for helping the body absorb dietary calcium thus promoting bone health). Eating more alkaline foods may improve the potassium sodium ratio on the body, which can influence both bone health, hypertension, strokes, and muscle wasting. So really, there’s nothing to lose from taking a little vacation from acidville.
Yeah I just said that. Remember, I’m a nutrition nerd first, foremost, and always.
The main takeaway is that eating more alkaline diet (i.e. one rich in fresh produce like leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables) is never a bad thing, you know? I talked a bit about the health benefits of asparagus in this post and zucchini here, but I haven’t talked about broccoli yet. And I definitely cannot overlook this cruciferous superstar.
Broccoli’s cancer fighting properties are due in part to the antioxidant powers of sulforaphane. It is also rich in glucosinolates, which may help prevent cancer by eliminating carcinogens before they can cause problems. And now, there may be new evidence suggesting that broccoli can help mitigate damage from environmental toxins, like air pollution, before they can cause harm. Even though this soup is cooked, eating raw broccoli will afford you nearly 20 times more antioxidant benefits so try to incorporate it in its uncooked form as often as possible.
Both broccoli and asparagus have relatively high respiration rates, which means that they continue to produce oxygen after being harvested. This causes broccoli to rapidly lose its nutrients, including those coveted glucosinolates, flavonoids, and vitamin C. You can mitigate the inevitable loss of nutrients by growing your own or purchasing the freshest broccoli and asparagus possible—ideally straight from a local farmer. We grew broccoli in our community garden last year and it was such a treat! If you’re buying it at a grocery, choose whole heads of broccoli over the pre-cut florets as they have double the respiration rate, plus you’ll save a few pennies since the whole head of broccoli is much more affordable.
| RECIPE |
Alkalizing Green Soup
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes
1–2 fresh garlic cloves, pressed or finely diced (can also substitute 1–2 tsp garlic powder)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 large handful organic spinach
1-2 cups broccoli
4 small zucchini
1 bundle of asparagus
32 ounces vegetable stock
1 tbs coconut oil
1 inch ginger root, freshly grated
1 tsp each sea salt and pepper
Fresh lemon wedges
First cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top (optional)
Cashew cream for topping (optional, recipe to follow)
For the soup:
- Place coconut oil in the bottom of a large soup pot or Dutch oven along with diced onion, ginger root, and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add vegetable stock and vegetables and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10–15 minutes under vegetables are tender.
- If you have an immersion blender, you may use it directly in the pot to puree the vegetables. Otherwise, allow soup to cool on stovetop and then transfer in small batches to a blender to puree. Be careful not to fill the blender completely or you risk having the soup explode all over your kitchen. Not that I know this from personal experience or anything. Fill blender 1/3 full and leave an opening at the top of the lid so the hot steam can escape. Continue this process until the soup is entirely pureed.
- Squeeze a few fresh lemon wedges over the soup to brighten up the flavor and top with a dollop of cashew cream (or if you prefer to use a dairy product, something like creme fraiche or yogurt would be fine!), salt and pepper, and a pinch of microgreens for good measure.
Basic Cashew Cream:
2/3 cup raw unsalted cashews
1/3 cup filtered water
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp sea salt
For the cashew cream:
- Soak cashews in filtered water for a minimum of 20 minutes up to overnight. If you don’t own a high-speed blender, soak the cashews as long as possible for the creamiest results. After soaking, drain cashews and rinse well.
- Combine soaked cashews, water, lemon juice, and sea salt in blender and mix until desired texture is achieved. If you want a thinner cream, simply add more water.
This basic cashew cream recipe can be used in a variety of vegan recipes and as a substitute for dairy products such as sour cream, icing, cream cheese, and more. You can even add a little garlic powder, dill, or red pepper flakes for a different spin on a sandwich spread.
Other toppings or add-ins could include:
Nutritional yeast (great source of protein and B vitamins!)
Fresh parsley or basil
Brown rice* (my husband’s prefered way to enjoy this soup)
Cannellini beans or lentils*
*These add-ins will decrease the overall alkalinity of the soup but are still nutritious options!
So while I know this soup is a more in-your-face approach to eating vegetables than the sneaky chocolate zucchini muffins that I shared last week, trust me when I say you will love it. Oh and I would urge you not to skip (or skimp!) on adding fat to the soup, whether in the form of cashew cream or olive oil, as the fat is essential to helping your body absorb all the fat-soluble vitamins in the vegetables. Fat is where it’s at. Capiche?
As always thanks for reading and letting me share my passion with each of you. It makes me so happy to know how excited you all get about nutrition, eating healthy, and living an honestly nourished life. Check back next Tuesday for another deliciously simple recipe from yours truly.
One more thing! I am insanely excited to announce that I will also be regularly blogging as a wellness contributor on the Athleta Chi Blog. Athleta has long been one of my favorite women’s fitness brands and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to collaborate with a company whose philosophy so perfectly aligns with my own. This week, I’m sharing a few of my favorite healthy appetizers on the Chi Blog just in time for the Fourth of July. Be sure to follow me and Athleta on Instagram so you don’t miss a post!
And if you make this soup or any of the other recipes, please share your photo and tag me @honestlynourished or use #hnrecipes and #honestlynourished so I can give you a virtual fist bump.