Tricks For A Healthier Bowl Of Soup

I feel a chill in the air that feels like fall and this morning I noticed some leaves turning. Time to start thinking about those wonderful soups we love to eat when it is cold outside. Although I enjoy eating soup year round for some reason we think more about preparing soups when it is chilly out. I actually already have a stash of chili and chicken vegetable soup in the freezer.

Of course one of the best tricks is to make your own soup as can soup has lots of sodium and let’s face it, canned soup just doesn’t often stand up to our own thick hearty soups. Actually soups can help our goal of heathy eating if we pack it with vegetables and even whole grains; a hearty soup can easily be a complete meal. Another trick if you want to start with can soup is to add more nutrient rich vegetables or beans and more low sodium stock or water.

For our homemade soups, start with a lower sodium stock, look for brands with 400mg of sodium or less and even dilute them more with water. The great ingredients we will add will boost the flavor to the stock. Try a variety of vegetables like parsnips, squash, artichoke hearts, chopped leafy greens, fennel, celery root or cabbage along with the usual carrots, green beans or potatoes. Stewed tomatoes are awesome in almost any soup. Be sure to go to the farmer’s Markets for nice fresh, local produce.

For a creamier soup without adding high fat creams use cauliflower, broccoli, or winter squash, start by sauteing onion, garlic and then add your stock and simmer until vegetables are nice and soft and then blend them. You can also add white beans or potatoes as well.

Another trick is to experiment with whole grains. Barley thickens soup as well. Or you can use faro, wild rice, bulgur or quinoa. By adding beans or lentils you bump up the protein for an excellent plant-protein rich whole meal. Yum. You can cook dry beans in the stock or use canned rinsed product.

You can also use soups to stretch meats. A half-pound of meat is generally enough to flavor an entire pot. Make a big batch and share or put in serving containers and freeze for a quick healthy meal anytime.

The best thing about making our own soup is that you can use whatever you have left over or in the pantry. You should get in the habit of saving even small amounts of veggies, meats etc. in the freezer to throw into the pot when you’re ready for some soup. Definitely experiment with new vegetables and grains.

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup

Cook half-pound Italian sausage in 2 tbsp. olive oil

Remove meat from pan leaving drippings and add ¢ small onion, 1 medium carrot and 1 rib of celery diced along with 5 cloves of garlic or to your taste … and 6 cups of low sodium chicken stock. Add a can of cannellini beans (my personal favorite) rinsed and drained 1 pound kale with stems removed and torn into small pieces and lastly add 1 tsp. lemon juice. Stew until done. As with any soup recipe you can switch out ingredients according to tastes and ingredients on hand. You could also add some crushed red pepper flakes for some spicy heat and I personally love thyme and bay leaves in almost all my soups.