It’s officially cold and flu season: There were between 22 and 43 million cases of the flu alone between the beginning of October and the end of December 2022, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Not coincidentally, it’s also the height of soup season. There’s just something about this classic comfort food that goes hand-in-hand with soothing respiratory illnesses — or fighting them off in the first place.
Many soups contain the nutrients the Mayo Clinic advises getting more of when you’re not feeling well, mainly those that support your immune system, such as vitamins C and D, beta-carotene, zinc, probiotics, and protein. Plus, you can’t beat the delivery system: Soup is warm, goes down easy, and helps you stay hydrated, which is crucial when you’re fighting off germs, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Making your own soup is a worthwhile effort because it allows you to stock up on needed nutrients and control the sodium, which is notoriously high in packaged soups, according to the CDC. And as efforts go, it’s not a mighty one, which becomes extra-important if you’re under the weather. Making soup and freezing it ahead of time is another good option.
One important note: Research has found that soup can be a low-calorie yet filling meal, and when you’re sick or coming down with something, you may not have an appetite for much. You should, however, still make sure you’re taking in the recommended amount of calories (usually 300–500 per meal, although this amount varies depending on sex, height, and other factors, so if you’re not sure, consult a registered dietitian or healthcare provider).
Some homemade soups may not meet those standards on their own and should be paired with other healthy foods like salad or a wrap or sandwich because above all, you need energy to help fight off germs and stay healthy.
When you want a break from chicken noodle, give one of these eight equally nutritious, tasty bowls a try, and you may be surprised how quickly you start to feel better.