When you think of soup you probably think of a hot bowl of nourishment on a cold day. And when made from homemade bone broth that’s just what it is: nourishing.

While the thought something hot doesn’t seem to jive with the concepts of cultured foods in which the enzymes die when heated too high, it is still possible to incorporate cultures into your bowl of nourishment. You just have to follow a couple of guidelines:

  1. Allow your soup to cool to about 110°F, which is warm, but tolerable to the palate. If you can hold a spoonful of it in your mouth for a few seconds comfortably, that is about right. Most experts agree that anything above around 118°F will begin to damage the cultures, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria in your cultured foods.
  2. Think of adding cultures as a condiment, rather than a base. Traditionally, with the exception of miso, most traditional cultures used cultured food as a condiment or small addition to a meal rather than a large portion of it. This is because cultured foods are strong in both flavor and potency.
  3. Try to bring your cultured food to room temperature before adding. You are already cooling your soup off enough for the cultured food addition, so you don't want to add something cold. Stir in a room temperature culture to keep your soup warm and comforting.


With those guidelines in mind, here are four ideas for adding cultures to your comforting bowl of soup:


Whey strained from cultured dairy products such as kefir or yogurt is full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Adding whey will impart these things into your soup as well as give it a burst of brightness from the acids present in the whey.


Cultured creams (or thick cultured milks) have been used in cuisines ranging from French to Indian. Try adding some crème fraîche to a vegetable soup or top a bowl of beans with some sour cream. Stirring these cultured creams into your soups also creates a creamy consistency that makes soup a favorite comfort food.


This concept is similar to the addition of whey. But different vegetable ferments will impart different flavors. Some juice from your cultured salsa in a black bean soup is a perfect pairing. A bit of sauerkraut juice is a welcome addition to a hearty sausage and potato soup. Click here to learn how to make fermented vegetable juices.


Miso has been used as a soup base for generations. Because it is a cultured food itself you simply mix it into warm water for a bowl of broth or soup. Add fresh vegetables and cooked meats for a light but hearty meal or snack.


Even if you prefer to keep your soup hot and steamy for a cold day you can still make it part of a cultured meal. Eat it alongside sourdough bread and cultured butter. Have a few bites of sauerkraut, kimchi, or a fermented carrot stick. Or serve alongside a fresh salad covered in a cultured dairy-based salad dressing.

Making soup from fresh homemade broth along with good meats and vegetables, and adding some culture to it will give you a nourishing and cultured treat.