When you have a sore throat — whether it's from allergies, acid reflux or an infection like strep throat — the last thing you probably want to think about is swallowing anything. But warm fluids like soup are a good idea.
"Hot soup is a good remedy for a sore throat," Sonya Chawla, MD, a Maryland-based internist, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "It's not only soothing to the aching throat but also provides hydration, which is important when you're sick."
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The trick is to choose flavors that won't irritate your throat and worsen your symptoms.
Registered dietitian Sydney Greene, RD, recommends "soups containing garlic, onions, ginger and turmeric, as they have anti-inflammatory benefits."
Here, learn some of the best soup recipes for a sore throat, the ingredients to avoid, other foods that can be natural remedies for a sore throat and when to see a doctor for your sore throat pain.
If you're buying a packaged soup to help with your sore throat, look for low-sodium, mild-tasting options with soft ingredients, like well-cooked chicken and vegetables.
1. Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
A hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup always feels like just what the doctor ordered. This recipe from the food blog My Heart Beets calls for cooking it in the Instant Pot, but you can make it on the regular stovetop, too.
It has turmeric, garlic and ginger, all ingredients recommended by Greene to help clear your sinuses and soothe a sore throat.
Plus, you can easily stick servings of this soup in the freezer for later.
2. Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup With Red Lentils
Softened, lightly seasoned vegetables are the name of the game when it comes to a good soup for a sore throat, and this one from A Beautiful Plate is perfect for anyone feeling under the weather.
While the recipe title says "winter," it can really be enjoyed any time of year.
All you have to do is chop up the veggies and add them to your slow cooker with the broth and spices: thyme, bay leaves and a touch of black pepper. Let it cook for a few hours while you're (hopefully) resting, and then enjoy.
3. Simple Butternut Squash Soup
There's nothing better than a simple recipe, and this butternut squash soup from Salt & Lavender is just that. Some butternut squash recipes include red pepper flakes or another spicy element, which would just be too irritating for a sore throat. This recipe instead uses cinnamon, nutmeg and coconut milk for a mild but rich flavor.
Plus, the puréed nature of this soup makes it really easy to swallow — perfect for when you're sick.
4. Creamy Mushroom Soup
Your appetite might be low when you have a sore throat, but luckily, cream of mushroom soup is mild in flavor and hearty enough to count as a meal.
This one by Chelsea's Messy Apron has all the same base ingredients, with a bit of a twist. It calls for farro (a healthy whole grain), celery and carrots, whole milk and Italian seasoning (if you want).
You can also freeze this one, but you may want to reheat it on the stovetop, as per the instructions.
5. Make Your Own Soup for a Sore Throat
If none of these recipes are speaking to you, you can "build your own" soup using a few key supplies and ingredients:
- Broth: You can use beef, chicken or vegetable depending on the flavor profile you're going for. If you want to get fancy, you can try making your own broth, too.
- Lean protein: Find a lean meat you enjoy, like chicken, beef or turkey, and chop it into pieces small enough for a soup. For convenience, you could try using meat from a rotisserie chicken or ground turkey.
- Starchy and/or non-starchy vegetables: If you want your soup to be thick and hearty, consider adding veggies like potato, sweet potato or beans. Or, try sautéing aromatic veggies like celery, carrots, onion and leeks to add to the pot. Anything goes, really.
- Whole grains/carbs: While not entirely necessary, sometimes adding noodles, rice or another whole grain like quinoa to a soup makes it tasty and adds texture variety.
- Spices: When you have a sore throat, you'll want to stick to spices like ginger, turmeric, garlic powder or cinnamon. You may even try Italian-inspired flavors with oregano and basil. Just try to avoid chili powder, cumin, chili flakes and other "spicier" spices until you feel better.
To simplify things, you can even use pre-chopped, frozen vegetables and pre-packaged broth. You'll have a delicious soup with little effort!
Avoid Salty or Spicy Soups
"Avoid soups that are salty, spicy or have rough-textured ingredients," Greene says. "Canned soup can be loaded with salt, and that can be dehydrating."
Dr. Chawla also says anything spicy can be very irritating, and soup with rough textures, like undercooked vegetables, will hurt your already irritated throat.
Tomato-based soups are acidic and also may irritate your throat, so tomato soup isn't the best choice for a sore throat.
Some soups Greene recommends avoiding include:
- Mexican tortilla
- Black bean
- Baked potato
- Anything with large pieces of food or rough textures
Other Good Foods for a Sore Throat
If you're not in the mood for soup, there are other good options to eat if you're battling strep throat, a cold or other sore throat causes. They include:
1. Frozen Foods
"Frozen foods like ice and popsicles can help numb your throat while also providing hydration," Dr. Chawla says.
The cold will help numb the area, relieving any pain or throat itching you may have.
Fruit popsicles can also provide essential nutrients like vitamin C, which can support you as you recover.
Smoothies are easy to swallow and are packed with vitamins and minerals from the fruit and vegetables you choose to add. Plus, the antioxidants and vitamin C will help support your immune system.
3. Herbal Tea and Honey
Chamomile, green or licorice root tea with honey is a great natural remedy. Honey also helps coat the mucous membrane at the back of the throat, which can provide relief.
"Plus, herbal teas usually don't have caffeine, which can dehydrate you," Dr. Chawla adds. "Staying hydrated is very important because it will allow your body to recover much more quickly."
4. Soft Foods
Soft foods like mashed potatoes, oatmeal or scrambled eggs are a great way to still get enough food while healing a sore throat. They are easy to swallow and will not irritate your throat as much as crunchy or hard foods.
When to See a Doctor for a Sore Throat
Sometimes, waking up with a sore throat can mean you have allergies or acid reflux, which can be treated with home remedies.
But if you've tried natural remedies for your sore throat and the pain will not go away after a few days, you may be dealing with an infection or underlying issue.
Go to your doctor to get checked out, especially if your sore throat gets worse or you're feeling other symptoms like fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches or a headache.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to help soothe your throat while you're recovering.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.