Finding Comfort in Grief: Chicken Soup IS Good for the Soul…




This is a tough one to write…but I believe in living my life authentically and to share about my life in recovery, means sharing the most painful parts. I’ve recently suffered bereavement. It’s not something that I have experienced before with a close family member, especially so unexpectedly. I feel like my world has been turned upside down and my brain has turned to mush. My soul is crying out for comfort.


Emotionally, I’m still in the early stages of grief: I’ve ridden the merry-go-round of sorrow, tears, hurt, pain, shock, numbness, disbelief, guilt, rawness and right back to sadness again. Around and around the merry-go-round I go. I wouldn’t wish grief on my worst enemy. Mentally, my mind is struggling to process such a huge piece of information, that my day-to-day thought processes have taken a little vacation. I am struggling to make simple decisions. Doing what is best and thinking too far ahead is overwhelming. I feel like I’m drowning.


Being Kind to Myself…

What I need more than anything right now is to be kind to myself. To surround myself with the comfort blanket of close friends and family. I need to nourish myself, but I lack the patience and compassion. I am expecting to fulfil all of my obligations and live my full life at the same pace – I’m afraid not. And that makes me impatient. Grief is exhausting. It is like being engulfed by high waves crashing over you, relentlessly.


My natural inclination at times of emotional turmoil is to turn to bread. Bread, to my brain, computes as a destination to “feel good” chemicals. It provides a momentary relief from pain and brief amounts of escapism. It was what I was searching for in drugs for so long. And this has been the hardest habit to change since I embarked on my journey of wellness a couple of years ago. It is a well-trodden pathway.




Asking for Help

So I’ve given myself some space. I’ve cut down my commitments, I’ve asked for help from everyone close to me – which this self-sufficient woman finds really hard to do – and I’ve allowed myself to feel this process and not try and fix it, or avoid it. That may have meant a couple of days of eating bread, but I now love myself enough to try and nourish my body too. These next few weeks are going to be strenuous: I have to travel from the UK to Australia and back in a week and keep up work and everything else I do. So now, more than ever, I need to fuel my body well. And bread is not nourishing.


This week I’ve made good nutrition a priority. I started my day with my overnight oats recipe, and I’ll be making a huge pot of Italian-style chicken soup. It is said that chicken soup is good for the soul. It also has a host of nutritional benefits. Commonly it has been used for years to treat colds; due to its cleansing properties in the liquid and salt in the broth. Additionally, its heat clears sinuses; the lean protein is strengthening. The bone broth is restorative and therapeutic because it has been shown to be rich in carnosine which minimises inflammation by stopping the emigration of white blood cells. It contains immune boosting minerals like magnesium, calcium and phosphorous.


Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of hot chicken soup?




Italian Style Chicken Soup



2 stalks of celery, chopped

300g carrots, chopped

Large bunch of kale, removed from the stems

1 red onion, chopped

½ small butternut squash, diced

½ red cabbage, shredded

1 can berlotti beans, drained

1.5 litres of fresh chicken stock

4 chicken thighs, chopped

Fresh sage, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Olive oil

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan, to grate



  1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft
  2. Add the carrots, garlic, sage and celery and cook for about five minutes, until soft
  3. Next the butternut squash, chicken, cabbage and seasoning and fry for five minutes
  4. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 40 minutes
  5. Add the berlotti beans and kale and simmer for a further ten minutes.
  6. Serve in bowls, with grated parmesan.


Writer, blogger, nutrition and recovery advocate, Olivia Pennelle (Liv), is in long-term recovery. Liv passionately believes in a fluid and holistic approach to recovery. Her popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen is a resource for the journey toward health and wellness in recovery. In her probing interviews, Kitchen Table Conversations, she gives a unique insight into the lives of prominent figures in recovery. Liv is qualified nutrition coach, has lost nearly 50 pounds, and shares her delicious recipes in the feature Liv's Kitchen. She also gives a very raw account of her own journey in recovery and weight loss, in Liv’s Diaries. For Liv, the kitchen represents the heart of the home: to eat, share, and love. You will find Liv featured amongst top recovery bloggers and in publications such as Sanford House, The Fix, Intervene, Sapling, Addiction Unscripted and Transformation is Real.