6 Super Soups

Published: 19 Jan 2018

It’s more important than ever during chemo to keep your energy and nutrients up – keeping on top of it can reduce recovery time and improve your wellbeing.  This is easier said than done though, as you may well have lost your appetite, have difficulty swallowing or chewing, or your taste buds have been frazzled from the chemo.  Delicate foods that are packed full of nutrients are ideal, which makes things like smoothies (see our 6 great smoothie recipes here) and soup ideal.

So, if you or your partner are at a loss for what to eat, why not try these recipes?

Revitalising Turmeric Chicken Soup

Turmeric chicken with cabbage and coconut

Author:  Katie Kimball           

Time:  30 mins            

Serves:  6-8


2 tbsp butter

½ - 1 cup diced onion

8 cups chicken stock

2 large potatoes, diced

3-4 carrots, sliced

¼ large cabbage, sliced/diced thinly

⅓ – ½ cup coconut cream (or a can of coconut milk)

2-3 cups cooked shredded chicken

½ - 1 tsp dry ground turmeric

1 tsp dried parsley

1 – 2 tsp salt

¼ - ½ tsp black pepper


  1. Melt butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent (or browned, to your preference).
  2. Add the stock, potatoes (peeled or unpeeled), carrots and cabbage and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients and cook until potatoes and carrots are completely soft.

Carb Boosting Arborio Rice with Vegetables Soup

Author: Deborah Oke     

Prep Time: 15 Minutes     

Serving:  2 x 8-ounce servings


1 tbsp olive oil or butter

1 medium onion diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

1 bay leaf

1 cup Arborio rice

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup of frozen peas

½ cup frozen lima beans (optional)

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sea salt, to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in medium size Dutch oven or cast iron casserole dish over a medium heat.  Add the onion, bay leaf, carrot, and celery, sprinkle with salt.  Lower the heat to medium low and sweat the veggies partially covered for 8 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables have softened or are starting to colour a little.
  2. Add the rice, stir to mix well then add the broth.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is very tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in grated Parmesan and let the soup simmer another 5 minutes.  The rice will be very soft and the soup very thick.  Taste for salt.
  3. Add the peas and beans and cook 2 to 5 minutes more or until they are just cooked.  Serve with a little extra grated cheese.

Anxiety Busting Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin is a superfood. It contains beta-carotene which boosts the immune system – key during chemo when the immune system may not be working as well as it could.

Author:  Ann Ogden

Prep Time:  30mins

Serving: 2 8-ounce servings


½ Avocado, medium

1-inch piece of Ginger, fresh

1 cup Pumpkin, fresh

¼ cup Red Bell pepper

1 ¼ cups Coconut milk

2 tbsp Lemon juice, fresh

1 pinch Cayenne pepper powder

½ tsp Pink or sea salt

½ tsp Turmeric, powdered

1 tbsp Flax seeds

3 tbsp Untoasted walnuts

1 tsp fresh aloe very gel


  1. Peel, wash and cube the fresh pumpkin and place in a bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Peel one inch of fresh aloe vera leaf and scoop out the gel.  Add to the pumpkin and set aside.
  3. Add all the ingredients including the pumpkin to a high-speed blender.  Blend until smooth.
  4. In a double boiler, on the stove, place the soup in the top pot.  If you don’t have a double boiler, you can put a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of water. Heat the two pots until the soup in the top pot is very warm to the touch. Place in bowls and serve immediately.

Fortifying Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Author:  Jim Fisher

Prep Time:  25-30 min

Serves:  6-8


1 medium cauliflower

1 medium parsnip or potato

1 tbsp nut oil

¼ tsp ground cumin

750ml soy milk or almond milk

250ml soy cream or regular cream

Scant pinch of salt


  1. Break or cut the cauliflower into small florets (2cm or thereabouts).
  2. Peel the parsnip and cut into 2cm dice (remove and discard the core if woody). If parsnips taste too sweet, then replace with potato
  3. Heat the nut oil in a saucepan and add the spices.
  4. Gently fry them until their full flavour is released, then add the milk, cream and vegetables.
  5. Simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes or until both veg are very tender. 

Appetising Spinach and Tomato Soup

A good recipe to help rebuild your sense of smell (therefore taste) and appetite

Author:  Truth About Cancer

Prep time:  20 mins

Serves: 10 8-ounce servings


1 beet, small

1 carrot, medium

3 garlic cloves

2 tsp oregano, dried leaves

2 red tomatoes (2 cups)

½ tsp rosemary, dried leaves

2 cups spinach, fresh

1 yellow onion, medium

1 cup yellow or red lentils

¼ tsp cayenne pepper, powder

3 tbsp flax seeds, ground

8 cups water


  1. Take all ingredients except the spinach, lentils, and ground flax and place in a food processor.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Put the puree and lentils in a crock pot set for 175˚F.  Allow it to slow cook for thirty minutes.  Check to see if the lentils are tender.  When they are, turn off heat.
  3. Then add the ground flax, pink or sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper to taste.  Cover for about 5 more minutes to allow the salt, pepper, and flax to incorporate with the soup.  If you add the salt during cooking it will make the lentils hard, so make sure you save the seasoning for after the cooking is complete.  At this point you can add the spinach leaves to allow them to steam lightly before garnishing.

Nausea Suppressing Asian Soup

Asian soup with ginger, mushrooms, and spinach

Author:  Kalyn Denny

Prep time:  20 minutes

Serves:  2-4 servings


4 cups homemade chicken stock (canned low-sodium chicken broth works too)

3-4 thick slices fresh ginger root

1 cup slice mushrooms (any type, but mild white mushrooms seem more soothing for the stomach)

1 cup spinach leaves, sliced into thin ribbons

1 green onion, very thinly sliced


  1. In medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to a low simmer. Add ginger slices and let simmer at least 15 minutes or longer (taste to see if you have as much ginger flavour as you’d like).
  2.  If you’d like a clear soup, use a yogurt strainer or coffee filter to strain the ginger-infused chicken stock, then rinse pan and put strained stock back into pan. Add a small amount of water if the stock has reduced a lot.
  3. While ginger simmers in stock, wash and slice mushrooms and thinly slice spinach leaves. Clean green onion and slice into very thin slices. Bring infused stock back to a low simmer, then add mushrooms and simmer 1 minute.
  4. Add sliced spinach and simmer one minute more.
  5. Turn off heat and add green onions, then serve soup hot, with chopsticks to eat the veggies after you drink the broth.


Although these soups are packed full of helpful chemo-kicking and immune-boosting ingredients, you can add more if you want – why not add some unflavourled protein powder if you are finding it too difficult to eat meat or nuts?  Soluble vitamin and mineral supplements can help too, particularly if you find fruit too overwhelming or your appetite is still low.

Talk to your doctor about what supplements would be good to add to your diet, and what ones could conflict with your medication.  Keeping yourself topped up is essential for a balanced diet capable of fighting the side effects of chemo.

Do you have any of your own tips or recipes?  Why not get involved with the community and join our Facebook group?

These are just a few tried and tested recipes to give you some inspiration.  But please take care – they may not be suitable for everyone subject to allergies and intolerances.  Plus, it’s advisable to check with your health care professional for a list of foods you should avoid whilst undergoing chemo treatment.