A little Winter Wonder: Nourishing Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Provided by Katie Benton, AGITG member & dietitian. 

Winter is here and to me this means cooler days, a desire for warming foods and drinks, and warding off colds. During the colder months consuming nutrient-dense and nourishing foods and fluids is one way to ensure you keep healthy.

It is known that following a healthy, balanced diet can reduce your risk of developing cancer, but when you have cancer you may need to modify this. It is important to focus on whole foods that are dense in nutrients and protein from a variety of different food groups. Eliminating whole food groups from your diet can result in risk of nutrient deficiencies and weight loss, which may be detrimental during your cancer treatment and your recovery.

There is endless dietary advice available regarding diet and cancer, however often this information is not based on evidence and may be even be harmful. It is essential if you have cancer that you seek evidence-based information when making changes to your diet.

Ask your doctor to refer you to an Accredited Practising Dietitian for individualised advice tailored to meet your needs according to where you are at with your cancer diagnosis. Additionally, the Cancer Council Australia have developed a fantastic resource called iheard, which provides accurate, evidenced-based answers to your cancer questions, including questions related to diet and nutrition.

Soups are a wonder meal that are generally quick and low cost to make, usually require one pot, can be made in bulk and frozen, and can provide a punch of nutrients. The recipe below can be modified for those who may need a puree diet due to difficulty swallowing, and for those requiring meals dense in calories. The modifications can be found below to suit different dietary situations.

Recipe adapted from taste.com. 

Winter Nourishing Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Serves 4

 Ingredients

  • Cooking oil spray
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 tsps minced garlic
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 x 400g tin of diced tomato
  • 3 cups reduced-salt chicken stock
  • 400g lean chicken breast, sliced (for vegetarian option replace chicken with 400grm of four bean mix
  • 8 cups mixed diced vegetables (eg. carrots, capsicum, zucchini, green beans, pumpkin and potato)
  • Fresh parsley to serve
  • Optional to also serve with side of fresh bread

Instructions

  1. Spray a non-stick pot or large frying pan with oil and place over medium high heat. Add onion, chilli flakes, garlic and lemon zest. Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened.
  2. Add stock, diced tomato and lemon juice. Bring to simmer, then add chicken and cook for 3–4 minutes (replace chicken with four bean mix if desired) Add extra water if required depending on desired consistency.
  3. Add vegetables and cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring occasionally, chicken and vegies are cooked through. Garnish with fresh Parsley serve. Add toasted Sourdough as desired.

Modifications

  • If you require your meals to be blended, use minced chicken instead of breast and once soup is cooked add to blender using extra water to get desired consistency. Green beans may be more difficult to blend, recommendation to omit these if using the blender.
  • If you are experiencing unintentional weight loss during your treatment boost this soup up with some extra calories by replacing the olive oil spray with 2-3 tps of olive oil when cooking and adding 2-3 tbs of cheese when serving.
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