Nutritious Soup Recipes to Improve Your Appetite

by Dr Krishna Priya

Senior Dietician Dr Krishna Priya gives us three soup recipes to help us cope with some side effects of cancer treatment. 

Some cancer patients complain of loss of appetite. Sometimes, this can be a side-effect of the cancer treatment itself. Other times, it is related to tiredness and lack of activity. No matter what the cause, loss of appetite can lead to lower intake of nutrition and calories. 

To keep yourself healthy and to give your body a chance to recover, you need to continue to eat sufficient amounts of food. Even if you are unable to eat large meals like you used to before, stick to eating a larger number of smaller meals. 

  • Forget dietary restrictions when you have lost your appetite. Eat whatever you crave, even if it is full-fat food. 
  • Try and exercise a little to improve your appetite. A short walk might do the trick.
  • Try and have fruit juices and soups when you don’t feel like having a full meal. 
  • Soups can be a great way to improve your nutritional intake when you are suffering from side-effects like a reduced appetite. They are easy to consume and to digest and can be packed with important nutrition.

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Here is a simple recipe for a soup that will help improve your appetite. 

1. Onion Soup

cancer diet soup recipes

Onion Soup

This soup is delicious, easily digested and wakes up your appetite, preparing you for a more heavy meal. 

Here’s why onions are good for you:

  • Onions are rich in antioxidants and fight inflammation. 
  • They also reduce your cholesterol levels.
  • They help you manage blood pressure.
  • They help protect against blood clots.


Onions: 2 (pick the sweet variety), finely chopped

Garlic: 2 cloves

Salted butter: 1 tbs

Bay leaf (tej patta): 1

Cornflower: 1 tbs

Milk: ½ cup

Vegetable stock: ½ cup 

(To make vegetable stock, boil vegetables like carrots, mushrooms and onions in water for half an hour. Then drain to get the stock.)

Salt: to taste

Pepper: to taste


  • Melt the butter in a pan, over a medium flame.
  • Add the onions, garlic, salt and pepper to the melted butter. 
  • Saute till the onions are soft and light brown. Keep the flame medium to avoid burning.
  • Dissolve the cornflour in a ¼ cup of milk.
  • Add the vegetable stock, the cornflour milk and the remaining milk to the onions. 
  • Let the soup simmer till it thickens. 
  • Check and adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste. 

2. Tomato Soup

cancer diet soup recipes

Tomato Soup

This soup is easy to make and can be served with toast to form a snack between meals. 

  • Tomatoes are the leading source of the antioxidant lycopene.
  • They are also a great source of vitamins C and K. 
  • They have potassium and protect from cell damage. 


Tomatoes: 1 cup, chopped

Onions: ¼ cup, chopped

Garlic: ½ tsp, chopped

Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp, finely chopped

Butter: 1 tbsp

Salt and pepper to taste


  • Combine the tomatoes, onions and garlic with two cups of water and pressure cook. 
  • Cool the mixture completely and blend it in a mixer.
  • Transfer the mixture to a pan, add the butter, salt and pepper.
  • Allow to simmer for 3 – 4 min, stirring occasionally.
  • Garnish with coriander before serving. 

3. Spinach and Mushroom Soup

cancer diet soup recipes

Spinach and Mushroom Soup

  • Spinach is a super food that is packed with vitamins, iron and calcium. 
  • Mushrooms are rich in riboflavins that help in the production of red blood cells. 
  • This soup is likely to improve your appetite and help you eat more. 


Vegetable stock: 1 ½ cups

(To make vegetable stock, boil vegetables like carrots, mushrooms and onions in water for half an hour. Then drain to get the stock.)

Spinach: ½  cup, shredded

Cleaned mushrooms: ¼ cup, chopped

Oil: ½ tbsp

Garlic: ½ tsp, chopped

Salt to taste


  • Heat oil in a pan, add the garlic and saute.
  • Add spinach and mushroom and saute for one minute. 
  • Add the vegetable stock, along with the pepper and salt.
  • Cook on medium flame for 3-4 min. 
  • Serve warm. 

4. Lemon Coriander Soup

soups for cancer patients

Lemon Coriander Soup

There are so many reasons to make this soup. 

  • It’s a clear soup and pleasing to the senses of sight and smell. 
  • It is loaded with vitamins, particularly vitamin C which is great for the immune system.
  • It helps the body absorb iron.
  • The lemon in it aids digestion and hydration of the body.
  • It helps you deal with common side-effects of cancer treatment like nausea, upset stomach, intestinal gas and diarrhea.

Furthermore, you will find that it is also a very easy soup to make.


Vegetable stock: (You make this by boiling carrots, cabbage and beans in water.) 1 cup

Lemon juice: 1tbsp

Onions: 2 tbsp, chopped

Green chilli: 1 no, chopped, 

Garlic: chopped, 1 tbsp

Coriander leaves: ¼ cup, chopped

Cooking oil: 1 tbsp

Salt: to taste


  1. Heat oil in a soup pan and saute the chopped chilli and garlic till the raw smell of the garlic is gone.
  2. Add onion and saute till it softens.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to boil.
  4. Add the coriander leaves in and simmer for a minute before turning off the flame.
  5. Add the lemon juice and salt before serving.

If you suffer from nausea and vomiting, you might worry about consuming food, knowing that it will lead to another bout of vomiting. Here again, having light meals, without pungent odors might reduce your nausea. 

Here is a simple recipe for a vegetable broth that will help you improve your nutritional intake while you are still struggling to eat better portions of food

5. Vegetable broth

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Vegetable Broth

Here’s why you should be taking the soup:

  • It has the aroma and taste of cloves, which will reduce your nausea.
  • It cleanses your taste buds and improves your sense of taste, helping you eat more.
  • It reduces dehydration as the stalk contains the essence of vegetables like carrots and onions


Onion: 1 no, chopped

Carrot: 1 no, chopped

Mint leaves: 1 tsp, chopped

Olive oil: 1 tsp

Cloves: 3 no

Bay leaf: 1 no

Water: 3 cups

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pan over a medium flame.
  2. Add it in the cloves and allow it to leave it’s aroma in the oil.
  3. Add in the chopped carrot and onion, saute till they soften.
  4. Stir the vegetables often so they do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add water, bay leaf and the chopped mint leaves.
  6. Simmer on a low flame for 30 minutes. 
  7. Filter the broth using a strainer before serving.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
soups for cancer patients

Filtering the broth using a strainer

Another side-effect of chemotherapy is diarrhea. If you are suffering from diarrhea, opt for low fibre foods and more clear liquids like juices and soups. Avoid spicy, high-fat and sugary foods and drinks till you recover.

If you are a non-vegetarian, here is a soup recipe to help you deal with diarrhea. 

6. Lemon Chicken Rice Soup

soups for cancer patients

Lemon Chicken Rice Soup


Here’s why this soup will improve your diarrhea:

  • It is low fibre, low residue and low fat, which is exactly the kind of food that combats diarrhea.
  • Even the vegetables used in this soup (like carrot) are low fibre.
  • It is a great source of protein.
  • It has a silky smooth texture which helps you consume it better.


Carrot: 1 no, peeled and chopped

White or medium grain rice: ¼ cup

Chicken broth: (You make this by boiling chicken in water for an extended period of time, so that its flavour and nutrients are retained in the water.) 2 cups

Chicken breast: cooked and minced, 3 pcs

Egg whites: 2

Lemon juice: 3 tbsp

Salt to taste


  1. Cook the rice and carrot in a pressure cooker. In place of water, use the chicken broth while cooking.
  2. Once the rice is cooked, add the cooked and minced chicken to it. Stir till the chicken is uniformly heated. 
  3. Whisk the egg whites and the lemon juice together. 
  4. Add the whisked mixture to the rice and cook till it is just tender.
  5. Add salt as per your preference.

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