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.
Follow Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drpatriciafitz