No one expects to hear that diagnosis from their doctor, even though one in three Americans will get cancer at some point. You especially don’t expect it when you’re a 38-year-old seemingly healthy mom of four children.
My long-time and dear friend Darcie received that diagnosis about four weeks ago, after finding a lump in her breast. It was a shock to all of her friends, family and church family to say the least.
Her friends and family quickly gathered like a small army around her and her family. You see Darcie is widely known as one of the most generous, thoughtful, bleeding-heart people around our area. Many lives have been touched by her and her family in some way. Everyone loves Darcie.
A small group of her closest friends gathered a few days after her diagnosis to pray and plan for her. I was awed as I saw each friend in our group using her own particular gifting to serve and encourage her. It’s humbling to watch Christ’s church at work as the hands and feet of Jesus during a time of crisis like this.
One friend brought Darcie a “Battle Bag” full of encouraging verses to read any time of day or night. Others were already working on coordinating house cleaning, meals for the family, rides for the kids, starting a fundraiser site. One friend in the medical field sat through the initial consult appointment with her and her husband to be another listening ear. My decorator friend announced she would embark on a quick bedroom make-over, so Darcie can feel at peace in her space while undergoing treatment. The list goes on.
(Below: Living it up 80’s style with Darcie (on right), me (center) and our friend (Kelley). Can you handle all that blue eye shadow and crimping?)
And what do you think was my first inclination when I heard the news about my friend? To cook!
My mission in the days to follow her diagnosis: How can I make my friend the most nutritious, delicious, cancer-fighting soup possible? How can I equip her with the foods and nutrition information she’ll need to give her body the best fighting chance?
My role–surprise-surprise–was quickly dubbed by my team of friends as “Darcie’s nutrition helper”…which let me just say I feel completely inadequate for! Because of my under qualified status, I’ve been desperately researching and talking to friends who actually are nutrition experts. I’ve been learning all about the BEST foods for fighting breast cancer, which I plan to do a separate post on soon.
Here’s a peek at the long Google doc I put together as Nutrition Guidelines and a reference for her. As I say often…I know, nerd alert.
If you’re interested to learn more in the meantime about foods that prevent and/or fight cancer, a friend and I started a group pin board called Cancer Fighting Foods for Darcie and our team of “Darcie’s Cooks” (who are making healthy freezable meals in individual sizes for her to have on hand). These mostly grain-free, low-sugar recipes are packed full of healing vegetables and protein-rich beans and legumes, just like the soup I’m going to share today.
Now, back to Cancer-Fighting Soup. I’ve made three ginormous pots of this soup now for Darcie and for our family. It’s been tested fresh, reheated from the fridge and reheated from frozen. It works! I really think it works as a nutritious, delicious, cancer-fighting soup that can be frozen.
What’s in it that fights breast cancer (and inflammation at large), you ask? Here’s a very quick run-down based on my research:
1 – Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cauliflower (You can also throw in cabbage!)
2 – Lentils and black beans
3 – Mushrooms
4 – Garlic
5 – Spinach
6 – TONS OF OTHER VEGETABLES!
My hope is that you can make this for yourself, but also to take to anyone else who is battling cancer or any illness. This Cancer-Fighting Soup fights inflammation in the body and provides warmth and comfort when healing.
You may even want to add a word of encouragement to the container you deliver it in, too. I quickly scribbled out a few favorite verses in sharpie on the freezer bags.
Or you may want to include a set of our printable Truth for Trials verse cards.
Or make your meal a little more fancy-schmancy than mine with these Printable Freezer Meal labels to go on top.
I hope this recipe is a blessing to you or someone else.
P.S. Thanks to Darcie for letting me share some of her story. She said to me, “Share on, sister. hoping it make
a difference, inspiring someone to change one small thing about their lifestyle.”
P.P.S. In case you’re wondering, here is the story of Darcie’s Head-Shaving Party and more about how she’s doing a year later.
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-3 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 cups carrots, diced
- 3 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper, to preference
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or other dried herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley)
- 12 cups (or 3 32-ounce cartons) of chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (look for BPA-free cans)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup lentils (any kind will work; rinse first)
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, diced
- 1 cup cauliflower, chopped finely
- 1 cup broccoli, chopped finely
- 2-3 cups spinach, chopped
- 1-2 cups frozen green peas
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.
- Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic for about 3-4 minutes, until tender. Season lightly with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to your preferred heat level), and Italian seasoning.
- Add chicken or vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, and lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (slight bubbling), stirring occasionally. Season again lightly with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add all other vegetables except frozen peas (zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach) and simmer another 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in frozen peas and turn off heat (or turn to low), so they don’t overcook. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- If you like, serve with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese and/or whole grain crackers or crusty bread.
Freezer Meal Instructions:
Fully cook and cool the soup. (Do not leave soup out on counter more than 2 hours.) Divide soup into freezer bags or containers and freeze.
To thaw and reheat:
Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Then reheat gently over low heat on the stove or in a crockpot. Another option is to put the frozen soup block over low to medium-low heat on the stove top or in a crock pot. Add about 1-2 cups of water or broth over the top. Gently warm over low to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.