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Soup Is Medicine

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"I caught a bad cold one time when I was nine years old. The doctor whipped up a pot of garlic soup and brought it over himself."
Tom Paris, Star Trek: Voyager

Soup has been around for centuries, and lots of people eat it. However, this trope is when it is associated with illness somehow. In addition to being wrapped up in a blanket with a thermometer in their mouth and tissue boxes surrounding them, a common sign for how to tell when a character is sick as a viewer is to have them be eating a bowl of soup. Soup is often offered to or left on hold for sick people.

This convention varies a little by culture; for example, in the United States it's usually chicken soup, and in Japanese works it's porridge note  The trope can also be justified by the soup having magical properties that can cure the sick character.

There is an element of Truth in Television to this. Soup is, after all, rather nutritious (obviously necessary when fighting an illness) and the fact that it's mostly liquid makes it easier to be consumed and less likely to be vomited afterwards.

See also Sick Episode. If the characters' "illness" is emotional, then the soup falls under the category of Comfort Food.


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  • In an episode of Sailor Moon, Venus makes soup for the other Sailor Scouts, who have fallen ill.

     Comic Books 
  • In a The Far Side comic, a mother hen is feeding chicken soup to her chick who is bedridden with a cold. She tells the chick to just drink it because it's good for colds and it's nobody they know.

     Fan Works 
  • Conversed in a fanfic of The Addams Family. Lucas notes how in movies, the Ill Girl wives always get fed chicken soup.
  • In an unnamed Mork & Mindy fanfiction, Mork catches a cold from the rain and then Mindy gives him chicken soup. Later, in his report to Orson, he says that Earthlings often give their sick acquaintances soup.
    • Another Mork and Mindy fanfiction, entitled Together, Mindy gets sick and Mork and their neighbour Lily feed her soup.
  • In a fanfic of What's New, Scooby-Doo?, Velma is sick with a flu-like illness and Fred spoon-feeds her soup.
  • Just Fluff, which is a fan fiction of Happy Days, has Fonzie get sick and the Original Character Meg take care of him. One of the things she uses to do so is soup.
    • Another Happy Days fanfic, Happy Daze, has Marion serve Fonzie chicken soup because she thinks he has a cold.
  • Rugrats and the Gray Plague, a dramatic Rugrats fanfiction, has Tommy get an illness called the "Gray Plague" (a serious flu) and while he has it, he gets served soup.
  • In a spoof fanfic of Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Janeway is ill and wants chicken soup but only if her "mommy" makes it.
  • Several fanfictions of The X-Files:
  • Yakkos Sick Day, a fanfiction of Animaniacs, parodies this. Yakko gets sick and Wakko asks him if he wants some chicken soup, giving him a bowl with a live chicken in it.

     Film: Animation 
  • At the end of Frozen Fever, Anna feeds soup to the sick Elsa in a sweet sisterly bonding scene.
  • In the The Secret Of Nimh, Mrs Brisby's sick son Timmy is given medicine, which is served in a broth.

     Film: Live-Action 
  • Madeline: After Madeline almost drowns in the Seine, she starts sneezing, and Miss Clavel takes her home, puts her to bed and serves her soup and tea. The movie doesn't say if she's caught a cold or just gotten chilled, but either way, Miss Clavel wants to nip it in the bud.
    Miss Clavel: "Tea, soup and covers. I want you to stay under the covers, eat your soup and drink your tea."
  • In Nanny McPhee, the Brown children all start Playing Sick and Nanny Mc Phee's punishment is to act like they're really sick. She tells the chef that the children are sick and the chef replies that the best way to help a sick person recover was this thin gruel with potato peelings in. Nobody liked it.

  • Amelia Bedelia: In one of the books set in the past when Amelia Bedelia was a kid, entitled "Amelia Bedelia Goes Wild", young Amelia has the flu and her mother serves her soup. However, Amelia is not hungry.
  • In the book Bear Feels Sick, Bear's friends make him soup when he becomes sick.
  • Blue's Sniffly Day, which is a book based on Blue's Clues, has Blue get a cold and be served vegetable soup. It didn't cure Blue's cold the way it did Steve's sniffles, though.
  • The Day Snuffy Had the Sniffles, which is a book based on Sesame Street, has Oscar the Grouch give some sardine and sour kraut soup to Big Bird to give to Snuffy, who's sick with something that's referred to exclusively as "The Sniffles". He claims that it's a family recipe that cures the sniffles, but it's best eaten while cold (and tastes its worst). Everyone else hates it.
  • Sort of inverted in the Sesame Street book It's No Fun to be Sick: Chicken soup is usually Herry's favourite food but when he's served it while sick, it tastes bad to him.
  • Little Racoon Catches A Cold: Little Racoon at the end catches a cold by falling into the river and is served hot soup by his brother.
  • In the Morris The Moose book "Morris has a Cold", Morris the moose has a cold and Boris the bear gives him a checkup and believes his stomach is upset so he feeds him some soup to heal it. Morris doesn't know what soup is, so when he's served it, he tries to lap it up like a dog and when Boris says "Use the spoon", he licks the spoon and when Boris says "No, put the spoon in your mouth", Morris puts the whole spoon in his mouth so Boris spoon-feeds him.
  • In The Robots of Dawn, Baley is given chicken soup by a woman and notes how women are the same as his mother used to give him the same dish when he was sick.
  • In the picture book Sick Day by David McPhail, an unnamed boy has an unnamed ailment and A Dog Named "Dog" tries to give him a bone to make him better but he eats his mom's chicken soup instead. He's fine in two days.
  • In the children's book Sometimes You Barf, a girl cites the flu bug as a reason to, well, barf (she cites that animals barf for different reasons, but flu is the only example she mentions of a human barfing), and then describes how the flu works. She mentions eating soup on the day before you get totally better.
  • In The Ten PM Question, Frankie is unwell (possibly either the flu, depression or sleep deprivation or even a combination) at one point and his mother Francie serves him chicken soup, which apparently, he always eats when sick.
  • Tommy Catches a Cold has Tommy Pickles from Rugrats catch a cold and his mother Didi serves him a bottle of chicken soup that still has the chicken's feet in it, a recipe from Grandma Minka.
    • Another book based on Rugrats, entitled Candy Soup, has Kimi get sick and the babies try to make their Halloween candy into candy soup because they think that candy and soup have healing properties and therefore it would cure Kimi. note 

     Live Action TV 
  • In one sketch of A Bit of Fry and Laurie has two gentlemen bringing soup to their Ill Girl love interest to cure her Victorian Novel Disease. This spikes an argument about whether soup or broth has curing effects.
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray complains of having caught something from a man in the airport who sneezed on him. Debra thinks he's faking but his mother Marie makes him some chicken soup, causing Ray's friends to start Playing Sick in order to get chicken soup.
  • In an episode of Hannibal, Supreme Chef Hannibal visits Will in hospital with a very fancy soup full of healthful ingredients, which Will lampshades with "You brought me chicken soup?" As a Genius Bonus, the soup is part of Hannibal's Gaslighting ploy: some of the ingredients would actually aggravate Will's brain condition.
  • In an episode of New Tricks, Jack falls sick while investigating the murder of several dogs and a witness offers him some soup. The witness is the killer and is using the dogs' insides to make soup, which can make someone sick if they eat too much of it.
  • In an episode of Nurse Jackie, a dying man rejects medicine in favour of his mother's soup.
  • Apparently this trope still applies in the twenty-fourth century, as in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled "The Icarus Factor", Doctor Pulaski says that the patient with flu can be cured with a hypospray that will be obtained on another planet and some P.C.S., which stands for Pulaski's Chicken Soup.
    • Averted in such Star Trek episodes from the various series such as "Shore Leave", "Unification", "State of Flux", "Faces" and "Broken Bow", which all mention soup but do not associate it with illness.
    • In "The Inner Light", Picard's fake alternate wife believes him to be sick due to him not remembering her and feeds him soup.
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, Tom Paris mentions that he once had a cold when he was nine and his doctor served him garlic soup.
      • In another Voyager episode, Harry Kim dreams about being sick with some sort of pox as a child and his mother suggesting she make soup for him. He mentions that as a child, his mother really did care for him when he got the pox, but it's unknown whether the soup part actually happened.
  • On Good Eats, Alton discusses how, in the days before modern medicine, this trope really was Truth in Television, and bone broth (specifically) was thought to have curative powers for various ailments. He also laments how many people have lost the traditional art of soup-making, getting their soup from cans, envelopes, or worse, bouillion cubes (which are basically just artificially-flavored salt licks.) His sister, Marsha note , comes down with the flu, and wheedles Alton into making soup for her. He does, and he uses a pressure-cooker to get the job done faster, so Marsha will be out of his house faster.

  • In a National Geographic: Kids magazine, there's a section explaining why chicken soup is associated with colds.

  • "A Cold in My Nose", which is a song about someone trying to understand a person with a cold, has the lyric "Maybe my mama will make noodle soup".
    • Another song, with the same name, has the lyric "I got a cold in my nose, I'll drink a tonne of chicken soup, I suppose."
    • Another song with a similar name has characters suggesting remedies for a character's cold and one of them suggests alphabet soup.
    • Yet another similarly-titled song invokes this trope.
      "I need some chicken noodle soup and a nice warm bed."

     Video Games 
  • In "Missing on a Star", which is a mission in Moshi Monsters, Judder catches the flu. When you feed him soup with chicken, peas and noodles, it cures him. Non-chicken soup, however, does not seem to be associated with illness.
  • Elixir Soup, which is a soup made by Link's grandma in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, is the best healing item in the game, as it not only refills Link's health and magic and has two servings, it also grants double attack power until Link is damaged.
  • In The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess, abominable snowman Yeto's wife Yeta is sick with what looks like a cold. Yeto, intent on making soup for her, gathers items and ends up with a powerful healing potion.
  • In Crusader Kings 2, you can build hospitals. One of the upgrades is the soup kitchen, which gives you points in disease resistance.
  • Neopets: One April Fools' Day plot was having everyone's pet catch a disease called The Scourges. Several temporary "cures" were listed, one being Blazing Hot Soup and Neggdrop Soup is described as being "good for when you're not well". Usually, however, this trope is averted due to the Soup Kitchen's rations, which are given to poor, but for the most part healthy Neopets.
  • On a little Internet game based on Sesame Street to do with counting chickens, Elmo sings a song. One lyric is "When Elmo's sick he gobbles down some delicious chicken soup."
  • The Freetime expansion of The Sims 2 gives new abilities to the various aspirations. Family Aspiration Sims gain the ability to make "Grandma's Comfort Soup", which cures all illnesses.

     Web Original 
  • In a parenting blog called Crappy Pictures, this post lampshades the writer's belief that if she is nice enough to her two sons and feeds them enough soup when they get sick, they will recover faster.
  • Jaiden Animations: In her video about illness and injuries, Jaiden talks about how people feel sorry for sick people but shun them because they don't want to catch the germs. She illustrates this by having an animation of herself giving a sick man soup with a stick over a line he's not allowed to cross.
  • The SCP Foundation has a bowl that fills with soup whenever someone nearby is sick or hurt. The soup has varying levels of helpfulness and its quality is linked to the eater's relationship with their parents.
  • This article on how to tell if your kid is Playing Sick.
    So before you grab the thermometer, heat up the chicken soup, and call your boss, you might want to consider the possibility that something besides germs is invading your home.
  • The Sick Episode page on This Very Wiki plays on this trope.
    Yikes, you don't look so good. Just get back to the unabridged version and I'll bring you up some soup.
  • This article for recipes for chicken soup recipes describes the recipes as good for "Whether you're combating a cold or seeking a warm feel-good meal".

     Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Simon and Marcy", the part-way-insane Simon Petrikov becomes obsessed with getting soup for a sick Marceline.
  • Arthur:
    • In the episode "April 9th," Arthur is afraid to let his dad leave the house after the latter briefly gets trapped in the school's fire. So he fakes a sore throat because he knows that whenever he has a sore throat, his dad makes chicken soup, and he wants his dad to stay home. David sees through the lie and reassures him that nothing bad will happen to him if he leaves.
    • In the episode "The Great McGrady", when Mrs McGrady (the lunch lady) is diagnosed with cancer, Arthur and D.W. offer her chicken soup.
    • Arthur gets chicken soup while afflicted with chicken pox in "Arthur's Chicken Pox".
  • In the Berenstain Bears episode "Trouble With School", when Sister Bear catches Brother's disease, which is ambiguously flu or a cold, Mama Bear goes to make chicken soup.
  • In Blue's Clues episode "Steve has the Sniffles" vegetable soup is what Steve needs to feel better, according to the clues.
  • In Code Name Kids Next Door, Numbah Two uses chicken soup to defeat the Common Cold after the O.J. launcher has no effect on his machine.
  • In Crawfords Corner, the two characters Crawford the cat and Harriet the bunny always bring each other warm soup when one of them has a cold.
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: In the episodes "Daniel Gets a Cold" and "Mom Tiger is Sick", they are given vegetable soup, along with orange juice to make them recover faster. "Someone may help you take care of you, they might tuck you in or make you soup" is a line in the song of the day.
    • Zigzagged in a later episode "Daniel's Neighbours Help". Lady Elaine serves chicken soup to a sick Mrs Tiger and Daniel, and even calls it Get-Well-in-a-Jiffy Chicken Soup, but Mr Tiger eats it too, despite being in perfect health.
  • In Generation O!, Molly gets served soup when she gets a sore throat.
  • Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs: The episode "Achoo" has Harry catch a cold and get served chicken soup. Later, when the dinosaurs (except Steggy) get diseases they get served soup too. The dinos, it seems, have Hyperactive Metabolism's and are instantly cured upon eating the soup. Harry, however, is not so lucky.
  • In an episode of Madeline entitled "Madeline's Christmas", all the little girls except Madeline, along with a mouse, Miss Clavel, and Dr Cone get sick with a severe cold. note . The girls then sing a song about being sick, one line being "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. A hankie and some chicken soup is note  all I want today."
  • In the Martha Speaks episode "Martha in Charge", Helen has laryngitis, and she is served corn soup because her mother Mariella believes it is good for sore throats. However, with Martha note  around, this trope is hard to play straight and is for the most part averted.
  • In the Mighty Magiswords episode "Squirreled Domination", Prohyas stays at home to nurse a sick Dolphin Magisword back to health while Vambre goes off on a mission. Grup insists that his Grup Soup will cure the Dolphin Magisword, but Prohyas and Dolphin Magisword object as Grup won't say what is in the soup.
  • In the Milo episode "Milo's Sore Tummy", Milo the Funny Animal rabbit is Playing Sick and pretending he has a stomachache. His mother Vanessa sees through his act but in order to convince him that sick days are not fun, she feeds him vegetable broth instead of pizza, claiming that you shouldn't eat pizza when you have a stomachache.
  • In "Darby, Solo Sleuth", which is an episode of My Friends Tigger And Pooh, Roo, Tigger, Pooh, Rabbit, Eeyore and Beaver all get colds and the cure is a special soup with lemons as the special ingredient.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "A Bird in the Hoof", Princess Celestia's pet bird Philomena is thought to be sick by Fluttershy because she keeps coughing and moulting. One of the cures Fluttershy tries on Philomena is soup, but she refuses.
    • In "Three's a Crowd", Discord asks for pumpkin soup to cure his fake croup in his song "Glass of Water".
  • In an episode of Little Einsteins, one of Rocket's relations (also a spaceship) is sick/broken and is being delivered Rocket Soup.
  • The Little Princess episode "I Don't Want a Cold" has the Princess catch a cold. On the second day of having a cold, she is hungry and wants a picnic. She gets broth instead, which she doesn't like.
  • Play Kids has a Sick Episode that consists only of a song called "Cover Your Mouth When You Cough!". While this is actually averted, the YouTube video it's on descripes it as "speeding up the healing process like a bowl of chicken soup" in the description.
  • In the Tom and Jerry cartoon "Puppy Tale", Tom gets all woozy due to almost drowning. Jerry fishes him out of the water and pours hot soup into his mouth, which revives him.