Hot soup on a cold winter day can warm the soul as well as the body. Soup can be the center of a healthy easy meal. Once you master the basics, you can experiment endlessly with your favorite vegetables, beans, and meats to make tasty meals in no time. Cooking homemade soup can be easy and makes wonderfully satisfying meals.
Incorporate the following tips to boost nutrition, trim the fat or salt, and to save time when preparing your family’s favorite soups.
To Boost Nutrition:
- Use barley, brown rice, or other whole grains in soups to add fiber.
- Add extra vegetables such as carrots, peas, turnips, onions, spinach, and peppers for vitamins, minerals, fiber, and flavor.
- Add dried beans and peas such as kidney beans, lentils, split peas, or black beans to soups to boost fiber. Keep in mind that most dried beans take a lot of time to cook.
- For pureed soups adding a small amount of brown rice to the soup gives it a creamy, thick, satisfying consistency.
To Trim Fat and Salt:
- Use lean meats such as lean ham, round steak, turkey or chicken breast in place of fattier alternatives such as a ham bone.
- Cool soups after cooking and remove the layer of fat that rises to the surface before reheating and serving the soup.
- Potatoes, especially floury ones like russets, pureed into soups make them thick and creamy without the saturated fat.
- Use non-fat, evaporated skim milk in place of cream when preparing cream soups.
- Use just a touch of cream or butter for flavor.
- Stir reduced-fat sour cream into a soup at the end to add the perfect creamy richness it needs.
- Choose low-salt canned broth or canned soups or make a homemade broth.
- Season soups with herbs such as garlic and onion powders, thyme, oregano, and red pepper. Then omit or reduce the salt called for in the recipe.
A Few Tips for Saving Time:
- Use canned beans or peas in place of beans or peas that need to be pre-soaked or cooked for a long time.
- Cook a large batch of dried beans when you have the time. Then freeze small portions of these beans in freezer bags and use the smaller portions to add fiber to soups you make in the future.
- Use frozen or canned pre-cut vegetables in place of fresh vegetables that need to be cleaned and chopped.
- Use canned tomatoes seasoned with onions, garlic, or chili peppers in place of chopping fresh tomatoes and onions, garlic, or peppers.
- Use low-sodium canned broth instead of preparing broth from scratch.
- On a day when you have time to do other things while the soup is simmering, prepare a slow-cooking soup that can be used for at least two meals. Then refrigerate or freeze leftover soup in small, shallow containers and reheat on a busy day. Store soup in the refrigerator if you will be eating it within three days. Frozen soup can usually be stored safely in the freezer for two to three months.
Add Something Cool
A hit of something un-cooked and un-simmered will highlight the deep, delicious, melded flavors in the rest of the soup. Add fresh herbs, fresh citrus juice, a dollop or two of cream or yogurt.
Stay Warm and Healthy
A piping hot bowl of soup is the ultimate comfort food during the winter months. Soup can be one of the most nourishing and satisfying, yet relatively low-calorie dishes, provided you keep the fat and salt to a minimum. Serving soup can be one of the most healthful things you can do for yourself and your family plus it will help you stay warm this winter.