Need some more interesting soups for sick days? Try these nine other healthy options.

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When you’re under the weather, there are few more common feel-better foods than chicken noodle soup.

While a steaming bowl of chicken noodle has its merits, it’s far from the only healthy choice for getting you back on your feet.

If you’re a bit bored of the same old soup, there are tons of other immune-boosting options.

Featuring rainbows of antioxidant-rich veggies, hearty proteins, and nutrient-dense whole grains, here are nine tasty, healthy alternatives for when you’re sick — and sick of chicken noodle.

Down with a summer cold? Make the most of the antioxidant potential of seasonal veggies with this light, lemony soup. The addition of shrimp is a welcome surprise!


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 lb. red potatoes, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4–1/2 lb. pre-cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley, or cilantro, or a mix
  • juice of 1 medium lemon


  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stock pot or Dutch oven.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring another 1–2 minutes, being careful not to let it brown.
  4. Add the broth, remaining vegetables, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the shrimp until heated, 1–2 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to low and add fresh herbs and lemon juice.
  7. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Pro tip: Cornbread makes an excellent side dish for this summertime soup.

Up the ante on the usual chicken-and-pasta combo by including your favorite tortellini instead of regular noodles.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), spinach tortellini adds immunity-enhancing nutrients like vitamin C and zinc, while a cheese-stuffed variety adds fat and protein.


  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz. fresh or frozen tortellini
  • 1 1/2 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth and tortellini. Bring to a boil and cook until tortellini is tender, about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the chicken, salt, and pepper and cook until warmed through.
  5. Serve topped with fresh parsley.

You may be used to putting sauerkraut on hot dogs or bratwursts, but the pickled cabbage has more than just condiment status. It’s long been used in central and eastern European cuisine as a soup base.

As a fermented food, sauerkraut contains natural probiotics that could play a role in immune system function, according to 2021 research.

Adding back the drained sauerkraut juice in the recipe below will boost the probiotic value of this sweet and savory soup.


  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups sauerkraut, drained, juice preserved
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 whole cloves


  1. Heat the canola oil in a stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add apples and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Sauté an additional 3 minutes, then turn heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples and onions have caramelized, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add sauerkraut and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until the sauerkraut is dry and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan (about 10 minutes).
  6. Add vegetable broth, bay leaves, and cloves, and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes or until sauerkraut is very tender.
  8. Remove bay leaves and cloves and serve.

Pro tip: Feel free to bulk this soup up with the addition of cooked grains like quinoa or bulgur.

This Mexican chickpea and quinoa soup is like Taco Tuesday in a bowl. Say ¡hola! to healthy with this high protein, plant-based meal.


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 (15.5-oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced


  1. Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add red onion, jalapeño, and garlic and cook until softened.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and oregano.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 12–15 minutes or until quinoa is tender.
  5. Add chickpeas, corn, and tomatoes and cook until heated through.
  6. Serve with cilantro and avocado as garnish.

Kale earns its superfood title with multiple nutrients that benefit the immune system, according to the USDA.

This creamy, comforting soup offers vitamin C, zinc, and antioxidants, then adds plenty of other savory ingredients to round out the Mediterranean flavor profile.


  • 3 (15 oz.) cans white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern, divided
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh minced rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded lacinato kale
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley


  1. Drain and rinse one can of beans. Blend in a food processor with 1 cup of chicken broth.
  2. Drain and rinse the other two cans of beans and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the stock pot. Cook until softened, about 6–7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the blended beans, drained beans, potatoes, remaining chicken broth, salt, and pepper.
  7. Simmer uncovered over medium or medium-low heat for 20–25 minutes or until vegetables are tender and broth slightly reduced.
  8. Stir in the kale and cooked bacon and simmer until kale is just wilted. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.

Pro tip: Leave out the bacon to make this soup vegetarian.

A bit of spice may be just what the doctor ordered to clear your sinuses.

When made with red pepper, the red curry paste in this zippy soup contains capsaicin, a compound known for breaking up mucus.

A 2015 study found that capsaicin was helpful for treating non-allergic rhinitis (aka stuffy nose). However, this was using inhaled capsaicin instead of ingested, which may not have the same effects.


  • 8 oz. rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15-oz.) can light coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, julienned


  1. Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook until crisp-tender, 5–7 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, curry paste, and fish sauce. Simmer until sweet potato is soft, 8–10 minutes.
  4. Add cooked chicken, lime juice, and cooked rice noodles and simmer until heated through.
  5. Serve with fresh basil as garnish.

Pro tip: Substitute steak cubes for the chicken if you’d prefer a beefy soup.

Vitamin C may not cure the common cold, but it’s an important nutrient in the big picture of immune health, according to a 2022 study.

While citrus fruits tend to get all the glory for vitamin C content, cauliflower is a surprising vegetable source. One cup contains 58% of the USDA’s recommended daily value.


  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 lb. head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 cups chicken broth


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). In a small bowl, mix nutmeg, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Spread cauliflower florets on a large sheet pan. Drizzle with oil and season with spice mixture. Toss to coat.
  3. Roast cauliflower in the preheated oven for 25–30 minutes, stirring once. When it comes out of the oven, mash lightly with a potato masher.
  4. Melt the butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook and stir until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to coat. Slowly pour in the chicken broth and milk and stir with a whisk until the flour is dissolved.
  6. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then reduce heat to low. Stir in the semi-mashed cauliflower.

Ham and white bean soup gives chicken noodle a run for its money in terms of savoriness.

The high protein content of this satisfying meal may also be helpful for illness recovery.


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 6 carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans Great Northern beans, drained
  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • 1 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water


  1. In a large stockpot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add carrots, celery, onion, and ham bone and sauté until vegetables have softened, about 6–8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 30 seconds.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer at least 30 minutes.
  4. Remove ham bone and bay leaves and serve.

Pro tip: This soup freezes beautifully! Make a large batch and save some in the freezer for when you’re under the weather.

When you’re not feeling well, you probably don’t want to toil over a hot stove. Try this easy fix-and-forget slow cooker lentil soup full of veggies and plant-based protein.


  • 1 (16-oz.) bag brown lentils
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 (15-oz.) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley


  1. Place all ingredients except parsley in slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on low 6–8 hours or on high 3–4 hours.
  3. Remove bay leaf and stir in fresh parsley.
  4. Cook an additional 15 minutes and serve.

Pro tip: Serve this hearty soup with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a side of crusty bread.

So many soups can stand in for the soothing comfort of chicken noodle.

By experimenting with new and novel options when you’re sick, you’ll not only please your taste buds, you’ll expand your culinary repertoire too.

So get some rest, sip some soup, and feel better soon!

Sarah Garone is a nutritionist, freelance writer, and food blogger. Find her sharing down-to-earth nutrition info at A Love Letter to Food or follow her on Twitter.