Changing season of soups

Five delicious soups that can be served either hot or cold.

| September/October 2002

Hot soup conjures the simple, fireside comforts of warmth, shelter, and nourishment. It’s so apt a connection that most of us forget the opposite but equal pleasure of chilled soup. Yet few foods stimulate the senses the way cold soup does during the cloying heat of summer or early fall.

Over the transitional months when days and evenings can alternate between dog-day heat and frigid night, this quintet of soups bridges the temperature shifts. All are equally good served hot or cold. All are easily and rapidly prepared and are packed with nutrients, rich in flavor, and low in fat.

A bowl of bonuses

If flavor isn’t enough of an inducement to try these vegetable-based soups, then consider this: All of them offer a bonus of micronutrients that sustain health. Please note, however, that while scientific investigations support the value of these phytochemical nutrients, quantities in these soups are generally below the level administered to test animals. Still, most nutritionists believe that in the aggregate, a phytochemical-rich diet provides the best road to health.


Broccoli is loaded with numerous sulfur-containing, chemoprotective molecules. A notable one is the antioxidant called sulforaphane, a breakdown product of glucoraphanin. Laboratory studies in animals have shown that sulforaphane induces the production of phase 2 enzymes that deactivate free radicals and inhibit early tumor growth. When added to tissue-cultured human prostate cancer cells, it inhibits the malignant process by both arresting growth and stimulating apoptosis (cell death). Numerous other preliminary studies suggest that sulforaphane may have much broader, chemoprotective value.


Laboratory and epidemiological studies suggest significant anticancer activity for lycopene, the carotenoid pigment that colors tomatoes red. Preliminary data indicates it may prevent the initiation of prostate tumors and reduce the rate of growth of preexisting cancerous prostate cells. Other evidence suggests that it inhibits the division of breast cancer cells as well. It also appears to decrease the incidence and size of chemically induced lung cancers in mice.

Cooking increases the bioavailability of lycopene in tomatoes. Heat breaks down cell walls (facilitating digestion) and converts lycopene from the less-active cis form to the more-active trans configuration.

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