Winter is officially here. It's the season of long nights and short days, of reflection and looking inward, and of thinking of ways to keep warm: scarves, gloves, fireplaces, cuddling... and soup. Ahh, soup.
When I want to remedy that "cold to the bone" wintertime feeling, a delicious steaming bowl of soup often comes to mind. Here are four great reasons to eat more soup this season, followed by some easy and delicious recipes:
1. Unlike some other comfort food (especially holiday comfort food), soup is generally good for you.
Soup can be part of a comprehensive plan to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Research suggests that soup can help to increase satiety and reduce caloric intake when consumed before a meal. Soup can help you feel full and satisfied but not heavy and weighed down.
2. Soups are a great way to follow your New Year's resolution to increase vegetable consumption.
Still trying to figure out a simple way to eat more kale, Swiss chard or spinach? You may want to consider adding your favorite greens to soup recipes as well as experimenting with other veggies.
3. Making soup lets you be creative in the kitchen, no matter how "culinarily challenged" you are.
Soups are relatively easy to make, so unlike with some dishes, where it wouldn't be advised for an amateur to alter the recipe too much, when it comes to soup, even a novice can enjoy some culinary creativity. It's fun to experiment with a favorite soup recipe and add your own twist, such as varying the types of vegetables or herbs used.
4. You can put ingredients in your soup to support a healthy immune system, which is especially helpful during the cold and flu season.
In traditional Chinese medicine, soups are sometimes part of the treatment plan, and there are so lots of "food as medicine" ingredients that can be added to soups. "Medicinal" mushrooms such as shiitake and maitake can provide substantial support to the immune system; ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is beneficial for the digestive system; thyme can be beneficial to respiratory health; and garlic has numerous health benefits -- it is known for its antimicrobial activity and can help to prevent infection. And those are just a few examples.
It is recommended to use organic ingredients when possible. Enjoy!
Do you have a delicious soup recipe to share? Please share your favorites with our HuffPost Healthy Living community in the comments section below. Being served a warm bowl of soup is such a treat. Sharing tips and recipes is a close second and are warmly received with gratitude.
Ingredients: 2 tbsp. organic sesame oil ¼ cup shallots, finely chopped ¼ cup green onion, finely chopped 1 heaping tbsp. chopped ginger 1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic 1 celery stalk, chopped 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced 6 cups vegetable broth 2 cups purified water 1 bok choy, chopped 6 tbsp miso, light yellow or white 8 oz tofu, diced 16 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots, green onion, ginger, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add broth, water, bok choy and miso. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Add tofu and mushrooms and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 8.
Ingredients: 2 tbsp. olive oil 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic 1 onion, diced 2 celery stalks, diced 2 carrots, diced 8 cups vegetable broth 1 cup lentils, rinsed 1 cup quinoa 1 yam, peeled and diced 1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes 2 tsp turmeric 1 tsp fresh thyme 1 tsp basil sea salt and pepper to taste Optional: Lemon and/or yogurt for finish In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add broth, lentils, quinoa, yam, tomatoes, turmeric, thyme and basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to and simmer 45 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8. Optional: Squeeze fresh lemon juice and/or place a dollop of plain yogurt on soup just before serving.
Fortunately for our family, my Italian grandmother loved to cook from scratch. One of my favorite dishes that she made was "Pasta Fagioli," a traditional Italian meatless dish, which inspired this soup. Ingredients: 2 tbsp olive oil 2 cloves minced garlic ¼ cup shallots, diced ½ cup carrots, diced ½ cup celery, diced 1 tsp each sage, thyme, rosemary 1 ½ cups kale, chopped 2 15 oz cans of cannellini beans (do not drain) 2 cups water 1 ½ cups quinoa pasta shells ½ tsp sea salt Parmesan cheese for topping In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, shallots, carrots, celery for 5 minutes. Add sage, thyme and rosemary, kale, beans, water and sea salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add pasta and simmer for 15 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle Parmesan cheese to taste. Serves 6.
Ingredients: 3 tbsp butter or ghee 2 celery stalks, diced 2 medium carrots, diced 1 yellow onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 tbsp ginger, minced 6 cups vegetable broth 6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed 1 medium yam, peeled and diced 1 tsp. fresh thyme ¼ tsp cinnamon ¼ tsp nutmeg ¼ tsp allspice 1 cup unsweetened applesauce salt and pepper to taste In saucepan, sauté butter or ghee with celery, carrots, onion, garlic and ginger for 5-10 minutes. Add broth, squash, yam, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add applesauce and use immersion blender to blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8.
This recipe is a version of the soup made famous by Henry Bieler, M.D. in his book "Food is Your Best Medicine," written in 1965. Dr. Bieler prescribed a healing broth to his patients to help alkalinize and detoxify the body. This soup is a great way to cleanse from the holiday overindulgence. Ingredients: 6 zucchini, chopped 1 lb fresh string beans, ends removed, chopped 2 celery stalks, chopped 1 qt purified water 1 bunch of parsley, chopped Place zucchini, string beans, celery, and water into a stockpot. Bring to boil and simmer approx 10 minutes. Add parsley. Blend until liquefied, either using by immersion blender or by pouring entire contents into blender. Serves 6. Optional: You may add sea salt and/or lemon to taste. You may also add fresh herbs such as thyme, basil or cilantro.
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