Soup saved my life.

My mum taught me how to make great soup, she had the ability to make soup out of anything and it always tasted like a ‘hug’. Mum’s soup healed everything, it was always rustic, always highly nutritious and always just the right thickness.

Even as a mid thirty something woman I would call her from whatever far flung city I was living and ask to be reminded of ingredients or what to put in a pressure cooker.

So it is no surprise to me that some 40 years later I am using soup as a communication vehicle with others that share my plight.

Years ago before the The Food Manifesto had “manifested” itself in my life, I wanted to run a soup business. I decided I was going to make soup and sell it , it was always a great idea in winter, summer not so much.

The thing that frustrates me about soup is that cafe’s, restaurants and hotels in Australia have put a time restriction on when you can eat it. It’s only ever available from June 1 to September 1 – during winter and not a day before or after that season. I challenge you to find somewhere out of those date ranges that serves soup, save Asian restaurants that often are not open in the morning.

I seriously don’t understand that, perhaps why I have such a penchant for Asia, Vietnam most noteably, you can get soup any day, any time and in the height of summer. I loved the soup so much in Vietnam I relocated there in 2018 until I realised my sore throat was not getting any better and well frankly things just weren’t right so I had to come home to Australia.

I had head and neck cancer. A large slow growing tumour on my left tonsil that had been causing my sore throat, and blissfully unaware at the time, a number of other health issues I was experiencing with no explanation.

Enter stage left was soup. It literally saved my life, I was always looking for an excuse to eat it, make it, freeze it and gift it. I now have every excuse under the sun!

Soup, as my mum explained is an ideal way to get a whole lot of nutrients in a very easily digestible way. After surgery and radiation I suffered (and still do) dysphagia. Dysphagia is difficulty in swallowing. I had a third of my tongue removed and now have scarring and fibroids in my throat that makes swallowing most things a real chore.

I had a stomach PEG which is a tube that you feed yourself instead of putting food in your mouth. I hated that thing with a passion, admittedly it was keeping me alive but I wanted it gone and the only way that was going to happen was for me to start eating and swallowing enough calories without using it. Soup became my closest friend. Soup has been my silent support all my adult life, more so now that I can’t ignore it, not go a day without it and I am now on a mission to ensure soup is available year round in Australia.

It’s fitting that on July 27, which marks World Head & Neck Cancer Day #WHNCD2020 and to showcase the wonders of Soup I will be participating in a “LIVE” soup making workshop hosted by Beyond Five. Details and registration can be found here.

Published by The Food Manifesto

I am a life explorer, food forager, choice crusader, eco educator, leader, teacher and head and neck cancer survivor. I've loved food all my life, my mum taught me good eating habits and how to cook nutritious food with loads of flavour. As a little girl I lived next door to a wonderful cook Pat Heidrich, I watched as she rolled pastry, filled cupcakes and prepared light as a feather sponges. My love of licking bowls and beaters started early. I grew up and explored my passion by studying cooking, trawling food markets, buying good equipment and experimenting with the tastes and cuisines I love. This blog is intended to share my passion, inspire you to try ...and fail, provide tips and every day good advice about cooking, shopping for ingredients, and planning menus for you, your family and friends. What's your food manifesto? talk to me about how I can help you.

7 thoughts on “Soup saved my life.

  1. What a fabulous idea for an online workshop! I am a big soup fan myself but from my perspective, just took its textures and convenience and all round excellent source of nutrition for granted.
    Thank you for sharing your insights as an H&N cancer survivor and thriver!

    SSG xxx

  2. I must say soup is one of my favourites and I try to make some from scratch each year but apart from pumpkin soup I don’t have that much success. It’s interesting you mention having a PEG feeder as my MIL is currently suffering from cancer in her oesophagus and can’t have any food by mouth, she has had a PEG put in. She is trying to get used to it but it’s early days yet and she is yet to start radiation treatment. I wish you well with the soup workshop. Thanks for sharing how soup saved your life. #lifethisweek

    1. Debbie the radiation treatment is a hard path, in many ways for me harder than the diagnosis. A treatment that will continue to show its effects for the rest of my life. Thanks for reading.

  3. I adore those noodle soups that you can get for breakfast all year round in Asia. Like you I think we should be able to get soup tear round – and not just pumpkin. I eat soup all year – it’s my workday lunch staple. It’s easy to digest, full of nutrients and you have to be more mindful when eating it. Every fortnight I make a massive batch and pop it in the freezer in lunch sized portions. Done.

    1. I know – it’s called “soup pigeon holing” I have decided Jo – Noodles have become a bit trickier for me these days, but those stunning Asian broths are to die for.

  4. So good to see that this post has scored great interest…soup is a great topic in this kind of weather. Your soup, and the reasons for developing your recipes and this site are particularly of interest to head and neck cancer patients and families. Thank you for sharing your post for the link up #lifethisweek Next Week, the optional prompt is #selfcare. Come on over and join in with a post old or new. Warm wishes, Denyse.

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