Elina Fuhrman, Soupelina


Elina Fuhrman is the founder and chef of Soupelina. She has written for the New York Times, In Style, and many other publications. She lives in Southern California with her family. Her new book is Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse: Plant-Based Soups and Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Transform Your Life.




Caryn: And my next guest is on hold and ready. Elina Fuhrman is the creator of Soupelina and has a new cookbook out called Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Elina.

Elina: Hi, Caryn. Thank you having me. So excited to be on your show.

Caryn: Thank you very much, and I am very excited to have you, and I’m just expecting you to just take the next half hour away, because……

Elina: Let’s do it!

Caryn: You come with amazing credentials, being a journalist on CNN, you’ve been in some pretty scary places in your day, doing incredible things, and somehow you came to peace with soup.

Elina: I know, right? It’s all about soup.

Caryn: It’s all about soup. And I have to admit, I felt like a real ding-dong. It took me like – I’ve been looking at your book for a while, I knew you were coming on the program, and I love the name Soupelina. It’s kind of like Thumbelina, or you know, some kind of fairytale name, which I love, and I was making some little jingles in my mind, but it took me a while, and I felt I’m really a dum-dum. I didn’t realize it was soup and your first name Elina put together, and when I got it I felt very dumb. But it’s very cute.

Elina: It’s funny because when I told my daughters first, I said, “How about Soupelina?,” and that’s the first thing they said: “It’s what, Mom, like Thumbelina?” And I said, “Yeah, why not? Just a modern fairy, with a pony tail and like huge heels, and a little apron, and a little ladle, you know, let’s bring the soup into the 21st Century.”

Caryn: Absolutely. I love names that end in “ina”, not just Thumbelina. I don’t know what kind of feelings people have about Thumbelina, but I’ve sung opera, and most of the characters that I’ve sung in the coloratura repertoire, all their names end in “ina”— Adina, Rosina, everything ends in “ina”. So it’s just a nice, it has a very nice, melodic, friendly, lovely sound to it. Soupelina, welcome.

Elina: Thank you, thank you.

Caryn: OK, now, how are we supposed to cleanse with soup, Soupelina?

Elina: Well, here’s the thing. You know, soup is so amazing for you. No matter how you turn and twist it, soups have been around forever, I mean, for centuries, you know, for generations. Every medicine in the world and every healer has always looked, brewed something. When you think of healers, you have this image of a pot brewing on the stove, and things going in there, but somehow here we are in the 21st century and soups have become these toxic-laden concoctions with sodium and stuff, and substandard ingredients, and up until Soupelina came on the scene there was really not a healthy soup on the market anywhere, and that was really shocking to me. Because even when you go to a five-star restaurant, you are going to end up having a soup that has heavy dairy or if you go to a vegan restaurant would have heavy nuts in it, or cashews or some of the other nuts mixed in there for cleanliness, and it was really, really heavy. And I came to souping through my own journey, so I started making soups to heal myself, and brought ingredients that I needed in my body to cleanse, to feel good, to feel whole, to feel healed, and I wanted them to taste great but I also wanted them to be medicinal. And so in terms of cleansing, what soups do is they provide you with readily digestible nutrients, because even when you juice and when you eat smoothies, for example, eat the raw food, it is all very cold in your digestive system, and your body has a lot of work to do to digest what you have just consumed. Now technically there is nothing wrong with that, but because we live in our very toxic world these days, and its reality, and we all know about that, and we can’t put ourselves in a bubble and say, “Well, I am now going to create an environment for myself where nothing is toxic.” It’s just not going to happen, because we can’t control our lives 100%, but we can control our food.

And so soup provides readily digestible nutrients that are really warm, that are ready to penetrate on a cellular level, and here you’ve got, you know, improve your digestive system, give you energy, help you with healthy elimination, flush your kidneys and liver, and really just create this favorable environment that will make you feel better. You’ll be calmer when you eat soup. It really changes so much when you, it’s pretty remarkable, try it some time, even from one bowl of soup, you eat a bowl of soup and you just feel content, you feel calm, you feel happy, you feel satiated.

Caryn: There is something very comforting about soup.

Elina: Yeah.

Caryn: And most people who don’t know where their kitchen is and don’t like the idea of cooking, primarily because they don’t know how to cook, soup is probably the easiest thing. It’s one pot, and it all goes in there together. Can’t be simpler.

Elina: But you have to be very selective. And that’s what I’m trying to explain. Because, I’ve come across people who go, “Oh, I love soup, too.” And I always get excited when people tell me that they love soup, and so I always ask, “Hey, what’s your favorite soup? What do you make?” Because everyone has their own favorites. And some people say, “Oh, well, I just open the refrigerator and I just see what’s there that’s about to spoil, and I open up a can of tomatoes, and I put it all in and boil it up and then throw it in a mixer, and it’s great!” And my eyes literally pop out of their orbits, and I go, “Omigosh, that’s not soup.”

Caryn: That’s not Soupelina soup.

Elina: No, no, no, no. In order for soup to really give the goodness that I’m talking about, the healing powers and the medicinal powers, every ingredient in that soup has to be spectacular and has to be hand-picked. Now, not everybody is lucky enough to live in southern California and to go the farmers market every day like we do here, but every town has a famers’ market at least once a month, or a market, or a coop, or Whole Foods, or an international market, or ethnic markets tend to have fresher produce, and I think that if you explore and find those places you will see how great ingredients are, and to me the ingredients are the stars. And once you have these incredible ingredients you can truly make remarkable soups.

Caryn: Quality ingredients make quality food with flavor. Everybody talks about the conventional or industrial tomato. It’s round, and it’s made to fit on a hamburger, and it has no taste. And even though you can get it year-round, there’s no point in eating it. It’s disgusting. But when you find a tomato garden-fresh from a farm, it’s just heavenly. Every vegetable is like that, every plant food is like that.

Elina: Yeah, yeah. For sure, for sure. And that’s why I also really encourage people to eat in season. And I know we are all spoiled here because we like to have things when we want to have them, but nature doesn’t work like this. There are things that grow at different times of the year, and I think if you kind of go with the flow and enjoy what grows certain times of the year, it’s wonderful.

Caryn: Very good. Now, you put the soup cookbook together, but you already have a business where you sell soup to the world.

Elina: Exactly, yeah. To the Los Angeles world at the moment only, but hopefully in the very near future to the world, to the wider world.

Caryn: The wider world. And for those that want to do it themselves, they have the opportunity to get all of your recipes in this lovely book.

Elina: Thank you. Yes, well that was the purpose, yeah.
Caryn: Who came up with the names of all of your soups, because they really are fun?

Elina: Oh, thank you, thank you. Yeah, so my daughters and I have brainstorms, and we sit around the kitchen table, and one of my best friends actually sometimes comes over, and we just play with words, and we sit around and we throw different names, and come up with something that we all love. So we have our own little focus groups and brainstorm sessions.

Caryn: Right, well here’s just a few of them. I’m All Artichoked Up. You’re My Fava-rite. I love fava beans, by the way. And, let’s see, I Don’t Carrot All What They Say. Don’t Squash My Dreams. Cauliflower Me, Maybe. I Can’t Believe It’s Butternut. Some of them are a little deep, you got to go to the next level there, really know your history of commercials.

Elina: Yep.

Caryn: Very good. OK, so your soup story started, my understanding from reading your book, is that you were diagnosed with breast cancer, and that was your wake-up call to learn about healing with food.

Elina: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, it was a scary time. I think we all go about our daily lives hoping that we are invincible, and I was certainly one of those, and then one day I received the diagnosis that shook my world, and I really didn’t know what to do. It was probably the scariest moment of my life. Seriously, being in Afghanistan was not scary, that was scary.

Caryn: That’s crazy. That’s not scary, that’s crazy.

Elina: I know, I know. Because all of a sudden you feel like you are staring death in the eyes, and you have to make a decision. And for me, it was a journey, really, it didn’t all snap together immediately. I didn’t know immediately what to do, it took time. It took a long time. And food became…. So one of the things that I made a choice is to turn down chemotherapy because I didn’t believe in it, and I decided to roll the dice and see if I can make it work for myself the way I believed I could. Now I didn’t know if it was going to work or not, but I had faith, and I thought I was going to give it a try.

And so I dove into research and started researching nutrition and all of the things that I had to do to change my life because one of the researchers, {12:50} pathologist that I spoke to who tested my tissue, told me that in order for me to truly heal I had to completely change my life. And life was not just nutrition. Nutrition was a big part of it, but it was also about reducing my stress, understanding my emotions, quieting my mind, and learning how to breathe, and doing all of those other spiritual emotional things that are so important for us in this busy world.

But soups and nutrition were about 80% of that because that’s really what centers me, and like I mentioned before that’s something I 100% control because I could control what I put into my food, I could control what I eat, when I eat, how I eat. And so I started researching ingredients and I started seeing a Chinese medicine doctor and an Ayurvedic practitioner, and they were telling me about spices and herbs that I have to have in my diet, and mushrooms, medicinal mushrooms like maitakes and shiitakes, and I was trying to figure out how I am going to have all of those spices and all of those herbs as often I needed to have them to boost my immunity, to bring certain nutrients into my body on a cellular level, and again at that time everybody was juicing, it was all about juicing and raw, and I couldn’t go that route. I tried actually. It was not working for me because I was cold. When I did my juice cleanse, I remember it was April in L.A., and it gets pretty hot here, and I was in a parka with a cashmere hat and cashmere gloves and cashmere socks, and Uggs, and I was shivering, I was very, very cold, because my body was not responding to it, it was not getting the nutrients.

So I started playing in the kitchen. I started playing with soups. I started putting all of the spices, like turmeric, massive amounts of turmeric, and cumin, cardamom, and saffron, and all of these ingredients into the soup, and hoping it was going to be palatable for me. And miraculously things started turning out. And partially, I researched all of the ingredients so I knew which ingredients would go with which ingredients and how they would they create those healing combinations, but also I am a big believer in energy and I believe that food is energy. And if you put love into the food you create it turns out beautiful. And so I literally would spend hours in the kitchen and pour my love into those soups. And I truly believe that is the reason they were so healing. And to this day I cook all of the soups. I really believe in that, in that energy.

Caryn: Beautiful. So I didn’t notice in any of your lists of ingredients, it never says love. I think it is an important ingredient.

Elina: It is, it is! When people receive the soups from delivery, they come with bamboo spoons, and each spoon is stamped, “Made with love.”

Caryn: I agree with you, it is a very important ingredient. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re cooking with a bad mood because you don’t want to put that bad mood into the food, either.

Elina: Exactly.

Caryn: Herbs and spices, we are continually getting more science that supports how nourishing they are, and how medicinal they are, and how great they are for boosting the immune system. And they just taste great.

Elina: Yep.

Caryn: What an easy way to make great soup, just a pile of herbs and spices.

Elina: Absolutely, absolutely. And you don’t have to use fats and oils and everything, and you know, the flavors are just tantalizing. Its incredible! That’s the frontier that I feel is going to be coming here, is we need to be understanding more about spices. Because I feel that we’ve kind of gotten veggies down and we know they are great for us, but spices and herbs take it a notch up. It’s a completely different paradigm.

Caryn: One of the things I talk about when people want to, for example, steam their vegetables, and have vegetables steamed, which is great, but then there is the water that the vegetables have been steaming in, and that’s where a lot of the vitamins went. So I always encourage people, “Drink that water.” It’s like a nice tea, or a nice broth. Don’t waste it because it is so good for you. But you don’t have that problem with soup. It’s all there in the same pot.

Now I have to mention this, and I am glad that you clarified it somewhere in the middle of the book, Dr. Joel Fuhrman is a dear friend of mine, who’s my favorite doctor, and I wondered when I saw your name, but you clarified that you are not related. But he is a big fan of soup and encourages all of his followers, his nutritarians, to make soup, so I am sure he would like a lot of these recipes.

Elina: That would be great. I would love to meet him. He is one of my heroes, so I am very proud that I have the same last name, and one of these days I hope to meet him.

Caryn: I don’t know many people who have this name, and it is always a trick making sure I put the “h” before the “r”.

Elina: I know, I know, that’s so true.

Caryn: I am sure many, many, many, many generations back you might have some connections along the way.

Okay, so if people want to make your soup, they buy your book, Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse, and then otherwise if they want you to make it for them, they head over to L. A. and go to your space. Where can people find Soupelina’s in Los Angeles? Where is it?

Elina: So they go online at www.soupelina.com and they place an order, and Soupelina flies into their home or office and brings their soups right to their door steps.

Caryn: Oh, it’s delivery.

Elina: Those wings come in handy, you know.

Caryn: Absolutely. You know, I was mentioning earlier, you probably didn’t catch it, but at the beginning of the show I was sharing my “woe is me” story of having the flu for the last week, and finally a weeklong fever finally broke on Sunday, and now I’ve just got a little hoarseness and hacking. But it would have been nice to have Soupelina in my neighborhood to deliver me some soup when I was sick.

Elina: Oh my goodness, I can get you well literally within 24 hours.

Caryn: Wow.

Elina: Yeah, my daughter …

Caryn: Which soups or which cleanse would that be?

Elina: So the healing broth, my healing broth, or Lady Macbroth, is so powerful. So I would have you sip on the broth throughout the day. I would have you with Kale-ifornia Dreaming and maybe Sweet Coconut Thai Oh My! I don’t want you eating too much when you’re sick because I want you just getting the nutrients, so you would be having the broth mainly just to flush all the toxins out. And then I would give you some extra vitamin C and vitamin D, and within 24 hours you would be just a completely different person.

Caryn: Well, if you would have been on my show last week I would have tried it and we would have seen what happened, but unfortunately I didn’t talk to you last week, and I hope this never happens to me again.

Elina: Yeah, me too, me too.

Caryn: But now I know what to do.

Elina: Now you know.


Caryn: Well, Elina, thanks for joining me on Its All About Food and for creating Soupelina. Soupelina, Soupelina, Happy little thing….

Elina: It was so nice to talk to you, Caryn. You are lovely.

Caryn: Thank you

Elina: Yeah, thank you so much. And soup’s on!

Caryn: Take care.

Elina: Thanks for having me. Bye bye.

Caryn: My pleasure. That was Elina Fuhrman talking about Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse: Plant-Based Soups and Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Transform Your Life, and we can all use a little transformation in our lives, couldn’t we?

Before we go, I was laughing before, I don’t know if you were, but I was going to mention that spring is coming in 5 days, actually today is the Ides of March. Beware of the Ides of March. And in five days spring will be here, and I thought, okay, after the first day of spring, haven’t you been missing your hearing the Mr. Softee truck when I do this program? And I thought, O.K., we’ll have it probably next week. And as I was thinking it, did you hear it? It was about 20 minutes ago, a half hour ago. A Mr. Softee truck came through. It’s not even spring yet! Oh dear. I’m not saying that I like the Mr. Softee truck, it’s just it’s been a whole winter quiet without it during the show, and now we are going to be hearing it again.

I also want to let you know about some other things coming up. Next week is March 22, and I will be celebrating 7 years doing It’s All About Food. My first show was March 25, 2009. So what are we going to do? We should have a party next, shouldn’t we? Woo hoo hoo! Let me know if you have some ideas about how we might party during the show.

And I also wanted to mention… OK, so I said I was sick all week, and my What Vegans Eat blog, I condensed all of last week into one blog just because I wasn’t eating very much, and couldn’t really eat very much. And so I didn’t make any healing broths from Soupelina, but you can see what I was trying to nibble on. I made a bunch of food, or let me say that my Gary made a bunch of food, and I wanted to put a shout-out to Sandy, who commented on this blog post with a TGFG, thank God for Gary! Amen for that. He was right here making some really nice, clean, simple food for me, whether I was eating it or not.

All right. A couple things to look forward to: April 3rd here in New York City we are going to have another Veggie Pride Parade, and Responsible Eating and Living will be there, so if you are in the New York metro area you might want to consider going to that. I’m going to that. Another book that I can’t wait, that I just discovered is coming out in April, speaking of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, his newest book is called The End of Heart Disease, and I know it’s going to be amazing. I know that we all know people with heart disease. This is going to be a great book for everyone to read.

And the last thing I wanted to mention is we just created a brand new cookie recipe last night. We wanted cookies, we made them, and you get the recipe. It’s a very simple maple, peanut butter, oatmeal cookie, and we used maple syrup. We didn’t use any of that break cane juice or other kind of sugar, and there’s no oil in it or no vegan butter. It’s just peanut butter, and that creates the fat.

The last thing I wanted to mention is you know that I’m a real big fan of the AquaNui water distiller where we have a special going on. Free shipping, and if you go to the https://responsibleeatingandliving.com website you can go over on the right hand side and check out the AquaNui distiller. If your interested now is the time because the shipping is free with the code “lucky.”

All right. I think I’ve got nothing left of my hoarse voice. Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food, and my friends, have a very delicious week. Stay well.

Transcribed by Sophie Howarth, 4/2/2016

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