January is National Soup Month. This is great for those of us who are trying to eat healthier this year, especially those of us who live where January is typically cold and snowy.
Soup is a good way to start on the path to healthier eating. But remember not all soups are created equal. Some are healthier than others. I believe the healthiest way to be sure I am eating a healthy soup is to make it myself. That way I know exactly what is going in the pot and don’t have to worry about something not so good for me slipping by me.
So what are a few ingredients I want to include to make my soup healthier?
Start with a low sodium broth — check the label or make your own. Don’t forget vegetable broth. You can also use water.
Add lots of veggies. Try to include some dark green leafy veggies such as broccoli, spinach or kale. An easy way to include veggies is to use a bag of a frozen blend such as a California blend or stir fry vegetables. And don’t forget cabbage soup — just don’t overcook the cabbage.
Add whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats or barley (barley is not gluten free).
Add beans and lentils for extra fiber.
Make cream soups without cream by adding some pureed pumpkin, squash or carrots.
Watch the garnishes. Try to slow down on the croutons, sour cream and cheese or replace them with healthier options.
Spice it up. Herbs and spices are always a good way to add flavor to anything. If you use packaged blends be sure to read the label for added sugar, salt, gluten, etc.
Start on your path to a healthier way of like with a bowl of nice hot, healthy soup for an easy way to work in those much needed vegetables.
Bob and I always celebrate the first pot of chili of the season. A soup supper is fairly easy to set up and host. Using slow cookers you can set up your soup on your island, kitchen counter or table. You may serve the soup or allow the guests to serve themselves. Provide any garnishes you wish such as cheese, croutons, sour cream, etc. and bread or crackers if you wish.
Add your favorite people, beverages and dessert and you have a party. You could make this a pot luck dinner and invite guests to bring soup or dessert to share if you desire.
Soup is something I love to make, but I seldom use a recipe. For me soup is a make it up as you go sort of thing. For the soup in the picture I used the broth and meat scraps from boiling the carcass from the Thanksgiving turkey. I added onions, carrots and celery and let it cook. Then at the end I added kale torn in small pieces and cooked noodles. For my noodles I used brown rice spaghetti broken into smaller pieces to look like the noodles in the canned soup my mom “made” when I was sick. I cooked this and added to the individual bowls of soup at serving time because gluten free noodles don’t stand up to reheating. It took a couple of times having noodles dissolve into a pot of soup for me to learn this. 🙂
With Fall weather setting in my thoughts are turning to soup. I have a good way of making up a simple soup that also helps make sure leftovers get used up.
Whenever you have leftovers that aren’t enough for a full serving put them in a freezer container and put them in the freezer. Keep adding as you have leftovers. When the container is full it is time to make soup.
So what kinds of leftovers make good soup? Veggies and the cooking liquid, potatoes or sweet potatoes (even mashed will work), meat or fish, grains such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat, etc., leftover salad greens such as spinach or kale, leftover main course dishes such as red beans and rice, stir fry or fried rice. Some types of casseroles will also work and you can even use a bit of leftover soup if you have it.
Combine all your ingredients and heat. You may add more liquid if needed. Taste your soup before adding seasoning since the leftovers were probably already seasoned.