From the Battlefield to Your Bowl: Captain Soup’s Healing Journey
Discover How Military Veteran Turned Entrepreneur, Captain Soup, Revolutionized His Health and Created a Nutrient-Dense Soup Line to Support Healing Journeys
Join me in an exclusive interview with Brian Gaudette, the visionary behind Captain Soup. Uncover the remarkable journey of how he battled health challenges as an army pilot and triumphed over autoimmune symptoms, leveraging the healing power of food.
Captain Soup’s therapeutic diet soups, born out of necessity, encapsulate a tale of resilience and innovation. At the heart of his story lies a commitment to health and well-being, transforming personal struggle into a thriving venture.
Brian’s deployment experiences, from Korea to Europe, inspired the creation of gourmet, nutrient-packed soups tailored to support various dietary protocols. Using bone broth as a base infused with organ meats and vegetables, Captain Soup crafted delicious flavors that cater to different health-focused diets.
Captain Soup is a Wahls Protocol® Sponsor. Save $25 off your first order using code DRTERRYWAHLS when you shop here.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. As an Army officer and employee of the United States Military Academy at West Point, it is important to note that all views expressed by Brian are his own and do not represent the views of the United States Army or the United States Military Academy at West Point. His comments do not constitute an endorsement by the US Army or United States government
Read the transcript here:
Dr. Wahls: Welcome, everyone. It’s Dr. Wahls. I’m here with Brian from Captain Soup, and we’re going to have a really wonderful interview. Now, I have to tell everyone that Brian is an active duty Army officer, a former Instructor of Leadership at West Point. So all views expressed by Brian are his own and do not represent the views of the United States Army or the United States Military Academy at West Point. He’s also a sponsor of the Wahls Protocol®, so I very much appreciate what he’s doing. He has a really wonderful story, and I’m going to let Brian tell you that because I think you’ll find it incredibly inspiring.
Brian Gaudette: Oh, thanks, Dr. Wahls. It’s so great to see you again. Yeah, I came to using food as medicine out of just necessity to try and save my career as an army pilot. Back in 2013, I was serving in the Republic of Korea, and I was starting to gain weight. I was getting lethargic, I was having cognitive issues. Then one day in the aircraft, it felt like the world was spinning on me, and I was getting spatially disoriented, so I was grounded from flying. Eight months of going to every specialist, chasing down every symptom, and got to the end of that rabbit hole. They said, “You know what, Brian? Sometimes stress does weird stuff to the body. You might need to go talk to mental health about what’s going on with you,” so that’s when my wife and I as a Hail Mary had to figure it out on our own.
We discovered that my symptoms very closely correlated with autoimmune symptoms, so we started treating it with the Autoimmune Protocol diet, and my life changed. So, I got my brain back, my body back, my energy back. I was able to get back up on flight status. In the Republic of Korea, that in itself is a deployment, so you’re not really at risk of going anywhere else overseas. You’re just there, so I had my house, and I could make my food, but then at my next assignment, I was in command.
We’d go to the desert for a few weeks at a time. We did an appointment over to Europe, and I had to figure out how do I keep eating this way, paleo autoimmune. I was doing keto, low carb, high fat, nutrient dense. How do you continue eating this way in an austere environment, so that’s where I started tin canning these soups. We don’t sell them tin can. They come frozen, but I started just for myself, I canned hundreds of pounds of soup with my wife in my garage. So, whenever I went on deployments or training, I just had a Jetboil camp stove and soup, and I was good to go, and I can maintain my health by doing that.
Dr. Wahls: Okay, so let’s take a moment. So where were you shipping your soups?
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, so I would take them with me to the Mojave Desert where we did training at the national training exercise. Then when Russia annexed Crimea, my unit was sent over to Germany to reassure our NATO allies, so we were staged over there in Europe for a few months.
Dr. Wahls: Okay, so I bet your colleagues thought this was pretty interesting, that you’re shipping all of this food and you’re not eating with them. You’re eating your own food, so tell us about that. What are these soups like that you’ve put together?
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, they’re pretty much, they have a bone broth base. Our bone broth has organ meat in it, so the idea is to just get as much nutrients packed into a smaller container as possible. So, it has bone broth, meat and vegetables. They’re cooked gourmet, so they’re super delicious. I was eating these for every meal for every day for about three months or so, so I wanted them to taste really, really good. They’re made gourmet.
Yeah, you can imagine the razing from my military friends. Everybody’s going through the chow line, and I’m over there with my soup. To be perfectly honest, it was something I was quite shy about. It felt like a weakness, like I needed special food for me to be okay. If you think about the military, and it’s like, “Ah, we eat gunpowder and climb in the dirt,” but I need my special organic grass-fed special foods. Yeah, I was a captain at the time. My roommates in Germany would walk in like, “Oh, what’s going on in the soup kitchen tonight? Let me guess. We got some more lamb soup?” That’s where the nickname Captain Soup came from.
Dr. Wahls: Captain Soup came from.
Brian Gaudette: It was more of a razing than a term of endearment, but I liked it.
Dr. Wahls: But it’s good to embrace. It’s wonderful to embrace. So let’s talk about the varieties of soups that you’ve made, and everyone is listening. I want you to know I’ve had these soups. They are delicious. What’s in the lineup currently?
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, so we have some lamb soups, some classic and Dijon as well as beef. Then we have one vegan soup. We have our first full GAPS soup.
Dr. Wahls: Hang on. People may not be familiar with GAPS, so can we bring everyone up to speed with what GAPS is.
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, Dr. Natasha McBride’s GAPS protocol, gut and psychology syndrome. So the big key there is it’s a bit more restrictive, and it doesn’t use a bone broth. It uses a meat broth, which the histamines are lower. Then it tends to be easier on the stomach, and that’s why I believe in that.
Dr. Wahls: For everyone who’s listening, I believe Dr. Campbell had a son with severe autism and developmental delay, which she has managed very well with her GAPS program, so there are many, many followers in the autism community that are very familiar with her work.
Brian Gaudette: Indeed. Yeah, it’s pretty incredible. I know you spoke to a colleague of mine, our Director of Nutrition, Mary, a few weeks ago at a practitioner meeting. Mary found Dr. Natasha and then was on an all-soup GAP soup diet. This chicken soup that we make is the soup that Mary ate every day for two years to reverse all her autoimmunity and get her health back. I use Mary. She’s a practitioner and working and coaching people, so I listened to her in what would be helpful for people in adhering to various diets. We’ve expanded our line in terms of low histamine, antihistamine, low lectin soups, and then we maintain currently all of our soups have ketogenic macros to them.
Dr. Wahls: Okay, that is perfect. Now, how do people get these soups?
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, they can just go online to captainsoup.com. It’s a really simple ordering process. There’s no subscriptions. The soup shows up frozen, and it stays in your freezer. You can eat it at your will, grab and go. It stays fresh and delicious for about a year in the freezer.
Dr. Wahls: So if I have my Captain Soups in my freezer, I take them out. Do I just let them sit on the counter to thaw? Do I put them in the refrigerator to thaw? What do you advise me to do there?
Brian Gaudette: Yeah. Some people, my wife likes to put it in the refrigerator. That way it’s a little bit more thawed. She’s a nurse, and she grabs it in the middle of her shift and throws it in the microwave, which I ask her not to do, but she does it anyway. We recommend cooking on the stove top and just throwing it in frozen, and it’s going to taste like fresh-made soup. A comment we always get is people are like, “I can’t believe this is frozen.” That really has to do with where we’re at in the Willamette Valley. We’re so close to our suppliers that our meat, our lamb and our beef are actually butchered to our order. Then so they’re processed, we pick up the next day. We make our soup, we freeze it, so everything is very fresh and very delicious and nutritious.
Dr. Wahls: So when I’m buying this, am I getting just a pint of soup? Do I get a quart of soup? Do I get a gallon of soup? Do I have all of those options?
Brian Gaudette: We currently have one option, and the idea is that they’re grab and go meals, so they’re all about 16 ounces. If you think about a pint of ice cream, it looks about like that.
Dr. Wahls: But this is really good for you, folks.
Brian Gaudette: Yes.
Dr. Wahls: This is really, really good for you.
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, this is not ice cream.
Dr. Wahls: Okay, so they arrive frozen. I can put them on my stove top.
Brian Gaudette: You can put them in the microwave.
Dr. Wahls: Or in the microwave, warm them up and have them. I’m curious. Do you have any soups that are intended to be consumed cold?
Brian Gaudette: We don’t. That’s interesting. I’ve eaten them cold.
Dr. Wahls: Well, I have too, but it’s interesting. It’s a challenge I’ll put out for you, Brian, that it might be interesting for you to explore. Most of my cold soups are more vegetable based. They aren’t meat based, and they’re not going to be ketogenic. So, I might have to think through if that really is realistic, but I do sometimes have your soup cold because I was too lazy. I didn’t want to heat it up, and it was still delicious.
Brian Gaudette: That’s good. That’s good. I prefer it a little on the warm side, but we might have a Dr. Wahls cold soup coming out next year. We’ll see.
Dr. Wahls: Well, that would be fun because I know during the summer in particular that it can be really very nice and refreshing to have cold soups.
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, I like it. We have to talk more about this.
Dr. Wahls: I will confess. I do this just a couple weeks during the summer when my tomatoes are all coming in. We have lots of fresh tomatoes, fresh peppers, and I’ll make cold gazpacho with lots and lots of olive oil. With the tomatoes, it is probably taking me out of ketosis, but I will do that for a couple weeks during the summer. So let’s talk about organ meats. I think everyone knows that I’m a huge fan of organ meat. It has so many great nutrition. Really, it is a powerhouse for minerals, Coenzyme Q, the B vitamins. Can you tell us about your liver pate?
Brian Gaudette: Yeah. Well, as I mentioned before, too, organ meat is a big part of our bone broth base that finds its way into most of our soups as a back door to get that organ meat into our soups. Then also, for our customers who are looking for a little bit more, we make a delicious beef liver pate. It’s tenderized. It’s creamy. People really like that. That you do eat cold. It’s best cold.
Dr. Wahls: That we do eat cold. Okay, so that comes frozen?
Brian Gaudette: It does. Yeah.
Dr. Wahls: Tell us. Is that in the pint containers as well, or is that in a smaller container?
Brian Gaudette: It’s in a slightly smaller container. It’s like two four-ounce scoops of it, so they’re split. You can pull one out and thaw one out at a time, and then it’s good in the fridge for about five days after that.
Dr. Wahls: This is super, super nutrition. Do you have any tips on how people should try your liver pate?
I like it just by itself. Lots of folks prefer with crackers or using it as a dip accessory, but I can personally eat about one four-ounce in a sitting.
Four-ounce scoop, yeah. Here’s a tip how we love our pate. I’ll get a cabbage leaf or a kale leaf, a collard leaf. Put a smear of pate on it, put a smear of guacamole on it, and then we’ll put hot sauce on it and roll it up and eat that. My kids would love feeding that to their friends. They wouldn’t tell their friends that they were just eating liver pate because they knew if their friends knew that they’d just eaten liver pate, they wouldn’t be exclaiming like, “Oh, my gosh. That is really delicious.” Again, if you add some guacamole, and then if you like hot sauce, you can put a little hot sauce on it. If you are avoiding nightshades, you could put a little ginger sauce on it, and that works out really well. Okay, so are there any plastics in this process?
No plastics. We try to make decisions that are best for optimal human health, so we have a rule of nothing hot is allowed to touch plastic. We do have some plastic bins in our refrigerators, but everything else is stainless steel or wood, just to protect the health and endocrine system of our customers.
That is so marvelous, so things are coming in glass? They’re coming in cardboard? How are they coming?
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, they’re coming in a cardboard cup. We’re out of Eugene, Oregon. For our local customers, we do a pickup with a reusable glass jar, but for most of our customers who are around the country, we ship in paper cups, much like you would see an ice cream pint.
Dr. Wahls: Again, this is perfect, and we can easily store that in our deep freezer. When I travel, it can be very anxiety-producing to eat food that someone else has produced because I have gone to conferences where people have assured me that the food is going to be good and that my dietary needs would be taken care of. For me, the problem is if I’m exposed to gluten, dairy or eggs, my face pain will trigger, so trigeminal neuralgia, and that is just really awful. So Brian, can we have these kinds of soups shipped to the hotels that we’re going to, to stay at a conference?
Brian Gaudette: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Dr. Wahls: So the thing I would do then would be to call the hotel, say we’re going to be getting an order of Captain’s Soups delivery, so we’d have to have a little coordination to do there.
Brian Gaudette: Yeah. What I like to do is I actually just bring it in my checked baggage because if it’s frozen all the way, I mean, it’s just a solid block, so you can take it through frozen. Sometimes if I have the benefit of being at an airport lounge or the USO, I’ll ask them to heat it up-
Dr. Wahls: Oh, my gosh. This would be way easier.
Brian Gaudette: … for the plane flight. Yeah.
Dr. Wahls: Okay, but I probably can’t take it in my carry-on.
Brian Gaudette: Not your carry-on. Well, maybe. It stays pretty cold down there, I think.
Dr. Wahls: Okay. Well, this is just such a phenomenal product. Again, our nutrition is so important, having food that is safe, nutrient dense. I think Captain Brian has been telling us again and again that we can do this as a ketogenic eater, that we can do this if we have a low histamine diet. We can do this if we’re doing the AIP diet or the Wahls diet or the GAPS diet. If you’re doing the Mediterranean diet, you could probably still consume these diets because it’s filled with vegetables, and lamb is certainly part of the Mediterranean diet.
Brian Gaudette: We have a Tom Kha soup that we release seasonally with Pacific Cod as well.
Dr. Wahls: Oh, that is lovely.
Brian Gaudette: It’s a little fish and coconut milk, and it’s quite delightful.
Dr. Wahls: Okay. Now, I think you also have some interesting aspects to your health journey with mold and heavy metals, which I know is a problem for many in the autoimmune world. I wonder. I think we have a few minutes. Could you tell us a bit about that, Brian?
Brian Gaudette: Sure. Yeah, so reversing the autoimmune symptoms with food and lifestyle was the first step. I was struggling with Hashimoto’s, so you mark that by TPO antibodies. I got to a point where I’m still at now where I don’t have any TPO antibodies, so it appears as though the autoimmunity is reversed, but I got sick again two years ago while I was teaching at West Point. My entire nervous system started to fail me, and it was worse than the first time, so we looked back at the autoimmune condition. It’s still not there. Looked at my thyroid. Thyroid’s fine, so it was very confusing.
I was very fortunate to be involved with a functional medicine working group across the DOD. One of those individuals had a non-profit and created a pipeline. His name is Geoff Dardia. His non-profit is called Task Force Dagger. It’s amazing, but he’s been finding a way to get functional medicine solutions to war fighters for the last decade. So, what he did is with his charity sent me to the Cleveland Clinic center for organization because what the Army said was, “Oh, your nervous system’s failing. You’re a combat soldier. You have PTSD,” because it looks a lot like. The symptoms manifest a lot like that, so the limbic system is just freaking out. I’m sensitive. I became sensitive to everything, noise, light, sound, EMF, which is wild, but I went to the Cleveland Clinic.
They knew exactly what was going on. They did a clinical diagnosis for mold and heavy metal. They tested for it and confirmed that, so now I’m currently doing a mold detox being run by the Cleveland Clinic, and the Army doctors are letting them take lead at a Soldier Recovery Unit in Fort Lewis. Now, my job is to heal. It felt like a setback because it was like, “Hey, I’m Captain Soup. I have this hero arc journey. How is it that I’m sick again?”
Dr. Wahls: Yeah.
But it’s much like layers of the onion. We’re getting to the root cause of what caused the immunity to begin with, so I’m going through that detox process. It’s a little rough using soup to support my immune system, and a lot of stress reduction and lifestyle modification. A lot more time in nature, gardening, working with animals, being outside, and it’s a pretty good life.
So everyone who’s listening, we have our healing journeys. Things can get bumpy. Go back to your medical team. Go back to your primary care team. Go back to your functional medicine team because we may have to investigate again and find what the new issues are so we can address them.
Well, Brian, this has been really marvelous. I want to thank you so much for being a Wahls Protocol sponsor. I want to thank you for all of your wonderful work. Again, for anyone who has been watching this interview, please tell us what were the key things that you learned, what action you’re going to take to support your healing journey. Brian, one more time, your website?
Brian Gaudette: captainsoup.com.
Dr. Wahls: Okay. Thank you so much.
Brian Gaudette: Thank you so much, Dr. Wahls.
Captain Soup is a Wahls Protocol® Sponsor. Save $25 off your first order using code DRTERRYWAHLS when you shop here.