Healthy Herbs for Soup | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Souped-Up: Give Your Soups an Herbal Health Boost!


Vegetable-rich soups can serve as herbal health-boosters.

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Herbs are a natural health booster! Tucking herbs into soup is a simple and flavorful way to protect yourself from illness. Here are the best herbs for soup—and 10 delicious soups using healthy herbs.

Modern medical science owes a lot to herbs and plants. More than 27 % of today’s medicines are derived originally from plants. Eating a wider variety of plant foods, especially vegetables, promotes overall health and helps prevent diseases.

Here’s an easy way to start tucking plants and herbs into our day … Start with soup!


Start with Soup!

Homemade soup is inexpensive, comforting, and delicious. Made with care, a good soup is a supercharged herbal health booster.

I often think of my soups that way. Just as when you brew an herbal tea, the water in soup extracts “phytocompounds” (chemicals that plants manufacture to protect themselves from diseases, solar radiation, and other threats.)

With tea, you discard the herbs once the water has extracted some of its constituents, whereas with soup, you get the benefits of the whole product, with its many associated nutrients and fiber.

Best Herbs for Soup

Virtually any kind of culinary herb is suitable for soup.  Add:

  1. Parsley for nutrition and flavor.
  2. Chives for an oniony aroma.
  3. Savory and thyme to liven many robust soups.
  4. Rosemary, oregano, marjoram, basil, lovage, and bay to add nutrition, flavor, and depth.

Last night, I made a delicious black bean and barley soup that contained onions, garlic, celery, spinach, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, carrots, and red potatoes (skin included). I added a few skinned, frozen tomatoes and a good handful of chopped, fresh culinary herbs: parsley, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and thyme, along with a pinch of cayenne. See the Almanac’s recipe for beef and barley soup with herbs.

During the growing season, I usually add handfuls of the weeds abundant in and around my vegetable garden: lamb’s quarters, dandelions, purslane, nettles, or amaranth.


Plants in Simmering Soups Are Health Boosters!

There are dozens of healthy phytocompounds tucked into one of my delicious soups: compounds with known antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, and anti-cancer properties.

I don’t have to know which diseases this or that compound helps me ward off, but I do hold my herb-and-vegetable rich soups (and salads, sauces, and casseroles) substantially responsible for my good health and emotional resiliency.


Here’s our list of 10 soup recipes which include herbs—or, just tuck away chopped fresh herbs and greens in your own soups. The last two summers are more summer-based.

  1. Italian Vegetable Soup
  2. Best Broccoli Soup
  3. Autumn Garden Soup
  4. Beef and Barley Soup
  5. Green Soup: Green Bean and Basil Soup
  6. Italian Dumpling Soup With Parsley
  7. (Peel-a-Pound) Cabbage Soup
  8. Lemon Zucchini Orzo Soup
  9. Classic Gazpacho
  10. Chilled Cucumber Soup

Soup it up and see for yourself!

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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