Healthy Eating – Chicken-less Soup for the Soul

By Betsy Bruns

Moving away from family and friends in 2021 means that gatherings are less spontaneous and occur mostly on weekend visits. The memories we make feed the soul and usually involve comfort food.  If we don’t plan, we’ll end up eating too much processed food during these gatherings, which leaves the immune system more vulnerable.

Processed foods are loaded with junk oils and chemical toxins.  The buildup of chemical toxins in our tissues and blood stream can stagnate the immune system. Given the cold and flu season are around the corner, it’s vital to feed the immune system with healthy plant foods.

Deep down, most of us know that food impacts our health from head to soul. Think about chicken soup. Mothers throughout the ages have turned to chicken soup to help everything from the sniffles to a broken heart, with good reason:  It’s the ultimate healthy comfort food, and it’s easy to make at home.

While no research has proven that chicken soup cures a cold or flu, according to the National Institutes of Health, research suggests that ingredients in chicken soup, such as the mirepoix of onions, celery, and carrots, can reduce the inflammation associated with the common cold.

I now prepare chicken soup chicken-less; it’s more nutritious due to the absence of inflammatory saturated fat.  And in my soul I feel nourished knowing that healthy eating can happen without harming a feather on another’s head.

 Chicken-less Soup for the Soul 

This super simple recipe is quick and loaded with nutrition. The star ingredient is soy curls. Non-GMO soy curls are a great meat alternative made by boiling and dehydrating soybeans. The process is totally natural, which makes them a whole food and not a processed synthetic meat product. I am fortunate to live near a vegetarian grocery store that sells them in bulk. If you can’t find soy curls in your area, you can easily order them online.

Soy curls typically need to be rehydrated in warm water for 10 minutes before use, but when using them in soups, you can skip that step and throw them into the pot straight from the package. The texture is almost indistinguishable from chicken and takes on the flavor of the dish, just as chicken does.


8 cups water or vegetable broth

4 teaspoons minced garlic or 4 chopped cloves

3 tablespoons white miso

1-2 teaspoons sea salt or salt to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon pepper

3 stalks celery, diced

2 large carrots, chopped

2 medium onions, diced

¾ cup quinoa

6 ounces dry soy curls (once hydrated, equates to about 1 pound of chicken) broken into bite size pieces


In a large pot or pressure cooker, bring water or broth to a low boil. As water is heating, dice and chop the vegetables. Add miso and spices to warm water and stir until miso is dissolved. Add vegetables, quinoa, and soy curls.

If cooking on stovetop, cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is soft.

If cooking in a pressure cooker, cover, and using manual settings, set timer for 8 minutes.

Superfood option: add fresh herbs, chopped spinach, or Swiss chard after soup is done.

Banana Bread 

I can hardly remember life before banana bread. As a kid, warm banana bread fresh out of the oven and slathered with butter was pure heaven, especially because it was made with my mother’s love. As an adult, I passed the loving gesture to my husband and baked it often. These days, I can whip up a comforting banana bread sans eggs, oil, or butter.

This recipe from The Physicians Committee can be made even healthier if whole sugar and flour is substituted for processed white flour and sugar. I love brown rice flour or whole wheat flour in banana bread. Sucanat is a fabulous replacement for white sugar in this recipe.


4 large bananas (1 ½ cups)

1 cup sugar

¼ cup nondairy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, sugar, nondairy milk, vanilla, and lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together, but don’t overmix.

Transfer to a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake for 1 hour (depending on your oven, it could take up to 10 minutes extra to feel springy on the top).

Remove from the oven and let the banana bread cool for 10 minutes. Carefully invert and remove the bread. Let it cool completely before slicing.

Recipe and photo by Betsy Bruns

Recipe and photo PCRM

Betsy Bruns is a plant-based health coach and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner. When she isn’t making healing food taste like comfort food or helping clients tap away stress and cravings with EFT, she’s soaking up nature and dreaming of ways to make life more delicious for all beings. Visit

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