Midwinter Soup

“When patients with active inflammatory bowel disease start eliminating food, fiber is the first thing that they tend to restrict.” Says Courtney Schuchmann, registered dietitian at the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center. “But many studies show that the fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are also the most beneficial for minimizing inflammation.”

While some patients with strictures (narrowing of parts of the digestive system due to scar tissue and inflammation) must monitor their diet to avoid bowel obstruction, Ms. Schuchmann generally recommends a diet rich in dietary fiber, even for patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

This soup is a high-fiber, hearty midwinter recipe, and especially handy, as it utilizes mostly pantry staples and canned ingredients. It can be customized to avoid allergens or poorly tolerated foods, and is flavorful without being especially spicy. By blending all or part of the soup, and adding more water, the texture can also be completely transformed to make it even more easily digestible.

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4 T. extra virgin olive oil
½ c. carrot, diced
½ c. celery, diced
½ c. onion, diced
1 medium potato, diced
½ c. dried mushrooms
½ c. julienned sundried tomatoes or 2 T. tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 c. dried brown lentils
1 can of white beans, drained
6-8 cups water or broth
2 bay leaves
½ t. coriander
½ t. paprika
½ t. garlic powder
½ t. onion powder
½ t. dried oregano
½ t. dried basil
¼ t. black pepper
¼ t. crushed red pepper (optional)
1 c. frozen spinach
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Salt to taste


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil until hot and shimmering, and then add carrots, celery, and onion. Cooking until just browned and soft (5 minutes).
  2. Add tomato paste or tomatoes, mushrooms, and all herbs and spices except salt, and sauté over medium heat for 2-4 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add diced potato, broth, canned diced tomatoes, and lentils, and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook over low heat until lentils and potatoes are soft (30-40 minutes).
  5. Add spinach and canned beans and return the pot to a boil for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add vinegar.
  7. Add salt to taste (amount will vary depending on liquid—for water only, plan on at least 2-3 t. of salt, for broth or bouillon, less), and adjust seasonings.
  8. Optional: Blend all or part of the soup until it reaches the desired texture, adding more water if needed.
  9. Finish with a handful of chopped fresh parsley. Serve