Mom, a belated Thanks. You Were Right, Again.
Soup does make us feel better, and for more reasons than you probably know. Yes, there’s definitely the emotional comfort we all associate with a parent or grandparent offering us up a magical bowl of soup when we were sick, or just coming inside from a Canadian winter...so it reminds us of being cared for. Who couldn’t use a little magical timeless reassurance?
But the ‘Soup equals Comfort’ equation isn’t a recent development. One historian suggests the ‘chicken soup as a medical cure’ can be traced back as far as the 12th Century. And the science behind it holds up.
And not just for fighting a cold. The comfort doesn’t come so much from when we were feeling unwell, so much as when we started to feel better, and How. Maybe she couldn’t have explained the actual whys of how it worked so well on us, but here’s why Mom (or whomever the Soup angel was) turned out to be so right. Soup is an optimal way to deliver the nutrients an ailing body requires, in an easily digestible form.
And healthy or sick, it’s also a great method of including vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Yes, especially the healthy and least popular ones. A Dutch study actually found that toddlers given soup with spinach and endives over an extended period ended up accepting them in their diet. (We didn’t say they Loved them, but soup helped the kids to take in healthy and needed ingredients. A cure for fussy eaters!)
Part of the alchemy of soup is that, just by heating certain vegetables, it enhances the nutrients they contain. Heating tomatoes results in their lycopene being boosted, which is not only great for nutrition, but provides an excellent antioxidant. Using spinach in a soup means you’re not losing any of the water-soluble vitamins that are washed away when it gets steamed or boiled.
One last bit of proof that Mom and Grandma were brilliant..chicken soup really is great medicine. Research has shown that it can hinder inflammatory white cells from getting through to other parts of the body, meaning it really does help lessen the symptoms of a cold. Apparently, the collagen in the chicken bone broth helps the release of cysteine, an amino acid, during the cooking process.
But enough of the science; let’s get back to that magic word, ‘Comfort’. One food psychologist acknowledges the power in the foods we associate with childhood. ‘When we want to feel comforted, we look to what our mothers would have provided...there’s also a sense of connection with our homes-we like to think of them as warm and cosy.’
Just how strong are those associations? One food writer noticed that ancient recipes for soup were very similar to those in contemporary cookbooks: both the instructions and ingredients were fundamentally unchanged, over hundreds of years, which is apparently quite surprising with most recipes. One cookbook written for the Pope of the mid 1500s contained a recipe for barley broth with chicken.
Maybe this is just restating that an old wives’ tale only becomes one because it is proven to be right, over generation after generation. Soup provides the trifecta of what we want from food, covering the nutritional, the physiological and also the psychological. It’s a wonderfully stealthy way to smuggle in most of the nutrients we are supposed to be getting from vegetables. Our bodies get the fluids we always require, especially when we are sick. And, as already stated, the meal reminds us of being comforted and taken care of, so we’re already feeling better psychologically.
Since 1921, Creed’s has been offering the highest quality foods and hard-to-find products, supported by friendly, personalized and efficient service. At Creed’s, comfort food comes in a thousand flavours.