Taking Stock

Why soup is making us re-think detox

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Why soup is making us re-think detox

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Until recently the biggest squeeze in cleansing has been juice. Sleek cold-pressed parlours have been popping up region wide, and detox-on-delivery quite a thing of the moment. While kale and cucumber are two veggies that shared time in the limelight, fruit were the all-stars of these detox programmes. Now vegetables are muscling their way back onto chopping boards in the form of soups. For many, this dawning of a new detox is a welcome change.

Higher vegetable content – from whole vegetables at that – make soups easier on the digestive system and they register much lower than juices on the glycaemic scale, equalling good news for anyone watching on their sugar intake. And whether we are talking broth boosts or vegetable-based stocks, soup’s nourishing, nutritional appeal is comfort to anyone that felt too intimidated by a juice cleanse.

At Punch Detox in Singapore, chilled soups have recently been added to the company’s juice offerings. The soups, which include Gazpuncho, with tomato, cucumber meddled with olive oil, cider vinegar and cayenne, as well as a chilled carrot and ginger combo with turmeric and coconut, arrive cold and in bottles like the juices but can be poured and gently heated.

Soup doesn’t feel as restrictive, explains co-founder Angela Cheng Matsuzawa. “We look at it as more of a social drink,” she says. Her clients have been known to request glasses of ice and cucumber at bars during happy hour so they can slurp away at their Gazpuncho, kind of like an ultra virgin Bloody Mary. Other clients took their soups to a Chinese banquet – usually mega meals of up to 12 courses – and simply tipped soup into the venue’s bowls as new courses arrived.

Soups can also be a good way of reintroducing food following a more intense detox, or to kick-start a healthy eating regime. “I call it a cleanse and nourish,” says Katherine Dale, a naturopath specialising in fertility. She includes three soups in her detox programme, which also includes whole grains, powdered barley greens and detoxifying veggies like broccoli.

There’s a lentil soup that’s rich in folates and fibre, a bright butternut soup, where coconut milk aids the body’s digestion of fat-soluble vitamins A and E, and a loaded vegetable broth with beets, carrots and immune-boosting shitake, anti-inflammatory turmeric and parsley for the urinary tract. “Ingredients that make sure you sweat well and keep your bowels moving well so that you can release,” she says. Unlike other programmes, soups cleanses are “not about punishment or adding extra stress. It’s a break, a reset,” says Dale.

But soups that lack protein and healthy fats shouldn’t be used for long stretches of time, says Michelle Lau, a nutritionist and nutrition educator, who recommends detoxes are supported with nuts, seeds and yogurt, and last no longer than three days. The now-trending bone broths, filled with macro-elements like collagen and amino acids, can fill some gaps and extend the options in a longer term healthy eating plan. These stocks are great for the gut, nails, skin and immune system, providing what most other veggie-based soups cannot.

At Punch Detox, the trend toward fasting is receding. Soups provide the body with the same rush of healthful goodies we loved about juices, with a much wider variety, giving us a better shot at sustained cleaner eating. “Anything that helps kick your 4pm date with a Starbucks caramel macchiato – between 180–250 calories a day depending on your whipped cream saturation – is a very good evolution,” remarks Cheng Matsuzawa.

But with providers still thin on the ground, and canned or packet soups most usually brimming with additives and preservatives, preparing a good soup is still best done at home. LA’s Soupure, which started the soup cleanse trend, has a book of recipes, and there are over 50 in Broth, by British nutritional therapist Vicki Edgson. Ten ‘essential broths’ are billed as herbal medicines and include beef, chicken and ham, white and shellfish, vegetable bases and a garlic broth.

Soups are not difficult to attempt in the kitchen, and Dale suggests that the chopping, stirring and preparation can be a mindful practice, a return, if you will, to a more wholesome way of living. Making soup is, she says, is as nourishing for the mind and soul as drinking it is for the body.

“Anything that helps kick your date with a Starbucks caramel macchiato is a very good evolution”
~Angela Cheng Matsuzawa

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Beat the heat with Katherine Dale’s summer squash soup that’s nutritious and cooling.

Summer Pumpkin Soup

1 Japanese pumpkin squash, peeled and chopped
1/2 green apple, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves (whole is fine)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 inch ginger root, cleaned and sliced
1 cup water
1 cup chicken stock

To garnish: splash of coconut milk handful of parsley, chopped cinnamon

Bring all of the soup ingredients to the boil and simmer together until vegetables are soft. Whir together with a hand mixer and then refrigerate until cool. Before serving, add in a splash of cold coconut milk and top with chopped parsley and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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