Saturday, September 5, 2009

Healing Quinoa Cabbage Soup

This very simple, nourishing soup aids in detoxification, though you'd never guess by the taste. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to prepare....perfect if you feel like you are starving during Phase 2 of the Elimination Diet!

Cabbage is a potent detoxifier. It contains a host of phytochemicals, including, isothiocyanates. This group of compounds is a potent inducer of the liver's Phase II enzymes, which detoxify carcinogens. These compounds also stimulate the destruction of human tumor cells.

And you know, we all need a little help with the detoxification process! Just imagine all of the chemicals our bodies need to process on a daily basis (I won't get into it, it's just too depressing sometimes). Let's look at what we can do.

Cabbage family vegetables, which include Brussels Sprouts, kale, collards, and broccoli, all help with detoxification. That's why we like to eat a lot of them. Green Smoothies are a great way to add in raw cabbage, kale, and collards! Brussels Sprouts are great roasted. Broccoli is good just about any old way. I like to lightly sauté it with lots of garlic and then add a little water to the pan and cover. It quickly cooks by steaming, but is still bright green and crisp-tender.

I like to cut the carrots into matchsticks for this soup. Just make sure they are not too small or they will get overcooked. To create the matchsticks, first cut the carrots into diagonal rounds and then cut them lengthwise into thin strips.

Healing Quinoa Cabbage Soup

The large sweet onion in this recipe is sautéed for a long time and then garlic, ginger, and carrots are added. Once the water is added a beautiful, flavorful clear broth forms. Then with the addition of Herbamare, the flavors deepen. Complexity is formed when the quinoa and cabbage are dropped in. With the final touch of cilantro, you have a bright, colorful, and flavorful soup just waiting to help your cells and liver detoxify!

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 very large sweet onion, cut into crescent moons
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 to 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
6 cups water or homemade chicken stock
2 to 3 teaspoon Herbamare (or to taste)
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups (or more) sliced savoy cabbage
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Then add the onions. (I also like to add a few dashes of sea salt or Herbamare at this point). Sauté for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure your heat isn't' too high or your onions will brown too much and cause the broth to be off in flavor. Just a steady, medium heat so the onions soften and cook is all that is needed.

Add the garlic, ginger and carrots and sauté 5 minutes more. Add the water or stock, Herbamare, and cooked quinoa and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until carrots reach desired tenderness. Add in cabbage and cook a few more minutes; this doesn't take long.

Turn off heat and add the cilantro and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more Herbamare and/or pepper if needed. Stir it all together and serve! Source:

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Delicious! This is getting made this fall!

  2. This soup sounds really good. Is there a reason which cabbage you used? Was it taste and texture or nutrients? I love to read about the ingredients in your recipes. I learn so much. Thank you.

  3. Mmmm...I love cabbage and cabbage soup! Now I look forward to trying your recipe. I notice that I feel much better after I eat cabbage.

  4. Just printed this out! Perfect soup for my healing!! :)

  5. Yum! This looks amazing. I've never thought of using quinoa in soup, but it sounds like a perfect match =D.

  6. This is a beautiful soup...And I can't wait to make it as the weather cools. Perfect timing.

  7. Katrina - thanks, perfect fall weather soup (or chilly summer weather soup)! :)

    Diane - I like how savoy cooks up in soups, so this is what I usually add. It has a great texture, probably why I use it over green cabbage in cooking. Though I love green cabbage raw, in slaws and such! Thanks! :)

    Debbie - Thanks, I feel great after eating cabbage too. Enjoy! :)

    Lauren - Thanks, enjoy! :)

    Lauren - Thanks, yes quinoa in soup is very tasty. :)

    CinnamonQuill - Thanks, yes fall is soup weather. Though it is not quite fall yet, it sure has been chilly here this weekend! :)

  8. great soup idea! my husband and i LOVE quinoa...the white, red AND black varieties.

    i'm also always looking for ways to incorporate more cabbage into my diet.

    any suggestions for something soothing for the large intestine? i was thinking liquid diet for a week, but then i wondered if something bulky like beans and rice might be better.....


  9. Oh, mmmmm, good! I just added the cabbage and had to try a bite. Delicious! Thanks so much for sharing. I can see this will be a regular in my house.


  10. Ali,
    I made this soup yesterday while it was windy, rainy and cold...perfect soup making day! This recipe couldn't have come at a better time: I was feeling starved and depleted during these last few days of Phase I on the Elimination Diet and this soup totally gave me a full, satisfied feeling! Also, a friend stopped by while I was making this and loved the aroma and wanted some of the finished product! Thanks so much for this great recipe and helping me to NOT veer off course on Phase I!!! Your recipes rock!

  11. Jacqueline - Thanks! :)

    Dot - Thanks for the feedback, so glad it helped fill you up! Oh yes, the aroma in the house while cooking this soup is divine! :)

  12. thats what i need right now for my angry tummy :(

  13. I'm ready for soup-making season again! This one looks very good. How nice that it has so many health benefits, too--win-win!

    thanks, Ali!

  14. Kelsey - Ah yes, this soup is a good tummy soother. :)

    Shirley - Win-win for sure. Tastes great and good for you! :)

  15. I love cabbage but didn't know how good it is for you. This sounds like a perfect lunch.

    I love eating soup all winter long. As far as the other veggies on your list go - I eat tons of broccoli and brussel sprouts but don't eat much kale or collards. I need to add those in more often.

    I always learn something here. :)

  16. Thanks Amy, soup for lunch is great! Maybe try kale and collards sauteed with lots of crushed garlic. They are also really tasty with a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of brown rice vinegar. :)

  17. Ali, we made this for dinner last night and it was a hit. Took the remaining soup to work today and it was just as good. Thanks again for sharing your healthy vegan recipes!

  18. Do you have any concern about the goitrogenic effect of using brassicas? Do you think that cooking the cabbage in the soup eliminates the problem? What about using brassicas raw in smoothies?


  19. i made this recently.. and this receives 5 gold stars!.. it was SO good.. ill make it again and again...

    thank you for sharing!


  20. We just made this soup for dinner and it was soooooooo delicious! My little one has a cold and this soup seemed perfect to try out. We will be making this one again soon. Thanks! Lara

  21. I made this soup the other night and it was delicious! I would love to see more elimination diet soup recipes, all the green smoothies make me cold and I loved the soup to help warm me up!

  22. What is herbamare?

  23. Karen in SeattleJuly 27, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    WOW!! What a fantastic nourishing soup!! I'm still feeling the warm fuzzy feelings after eating a couple bowls of this "comfort" soup!!

    At 1st I tasted the soup prior to adding the cabbage and it had a strong ginger taste (2 tsp) - BUT after putting the cabbage in and letting it meld together - WOW - everything evened out and it was delicious!! :D

    I've been diagnosed with "gluten, soy and egg intolerance" and have been searching for recipes of such.

    I have since purchased your book and have been trying a few of your recipes and they are absolutely divine!

    After eating this soup - I have to say - I feel energized and satiated! It's so Great to feel this way after feeling so poorly for so long!

    Thanks so much Ali and Tom for bringing your valuable services to us!! Big Hugs!

  24. I have just finished making this soup. THANK YOU for this great recipe - it looks and tastes GREAT!! Christine Kelly

  25. I am on day 7 of the Elimination diet, and made it for the 2nd time today! It tastes wonderful and the very first time I tried it I not only felt good, but was in a better mood too! I added some fresh dill in this batch (LOVE dill!) and YUM!

  26. Ali,
    I have made this soup now several times and it is such a wonderful light, tasty and filling. It's sooo perfect for the winter that we are experiencing.

  27. Yummy. I made this tonight for my husband and I and we loved it. I'm on day 4 of the elimination diet and this was super satisfying. This will definitely become a staple dish in our house long after the diet.


  28. Well, it is not fall. We are going into Spring, and I make soup all the time. I try and stick with something lighter for our evening/supper dish. This soup was awesome and easy. The bonus is that I had already had sprouted and low-heated my quinoa, and I had some millet that I needed to use up too. I think I am lucky that I can get the Napa Cabbage where I live, and they probably have never even heard of Savoy around here (except for the local bar we used to have = )

  29. I would love to try this soup!!!!
    : ) What do you recommend in place of the Quinoa? I love it, but it gives me horrific neck/shoulder pain and a migraine. I made Tabouli once and thought it was the mint that got me. But, I then made a breakfast out of it after rinsing it well gain and soaking it over night. Same reaction. Definitely not the mint! : ( Real bummer. Wish I knew why I react to it and could learn how to incorporate it. Gluten, corn, flax, and soy disagree with me too. : (

  30. Anon - I would try using cooked millet in place of the quinoa. Just make sure to sort through the millet and pick out any gluten grains. We often find one or two in every cup. Then rinse it well, drain it, and cook it.

  31. Hi Ali, just stumbled upon your website and I am thrilled! I found out in my twenties that I am allergic to gluten, soy, corn, and lactose... family baking is made more difficult as my mother is allergic to all nuts and coconut! I love your cookies but most do rely on nuts and coconut.. any cookie suggestions for this easter?

    Regarding the healing quinoa soup - I find that cabbage soup upsets my stomach... is this uncommon? Is there a trick to cooking the cabbage so it is more gut-friendly?

    Thank you! Looking forward to following your site.

  32. Hey, Heather- I usually use bok choy instead of cabbage to lessen the effects. Seems to work pretty good!

  33. I would buy an iphone app if it was available! It would be convenient at the grocery store...

    Thanks for all the great info and recipes, I'm on this site all the time. You're doing amazing work.

    Vancouver, BC

  34. Yum! I'm going to try this out tonight!


  35. This is a new go-to soup in our house. Love it! Healthy, warm, fulfilling - what more can you ask for?

    I shared this one on my blog as well.

    Thanks for all your fantastic recipes.

  36. This is funny. I made this soup on the fly the other day. The kids loved it and one of them woke up in the morning asking for a bowl of it for breakfast. I used a cajun seasoning to it as well.

  37. LOVED this soup!!! I am on day 26 of the Elimination Diet and only made this for the first time yesterday. It will become a staple in our house. I'd love to add baked tofu chunks to it.

  38. This soup was amazing! Both my little ones loved it (ages 3 & 1). We used extra virgin coconut oil in place of olive oil, less red onion in place of sweet yellow, and celtic sea salt in place of herbamare. Also, I prepared the quinoa by soaking for 7 hours in water + apple cider vinegar, per Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. Yum yum yum! Will be making this frequently, especially as we venture into the autumn & winter months. Thank you!

  39. Thank you so much for this recipe. I had a terrible head
    cold last Friday and made a pot of this soup. I was feeling better within 2 days!

  40. This is a great tasting soup that I often cook during cold and flu season. It's also great a bout of stomach illness. It's flavourful and easy to digest. I make it a lot because it's so good.

  41. This looks wonderful. I didn't see any answer to the Q how many servings is this, and does it freeze well? Thanks so much.

  42. This LOOKS healing! :) Does the 2 cups cooked quinoa mean 2 cups dry or 2 cups after cooked? Thank you!

  43. We made this yesterday and I absolutely love it. I added some diced zucchini and eliminated the oil as we are on a very low fat vegan diet (sauteed onion in water). It made a delicious breakfast today. I am eager to try more of your recipes.


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)