Homemade soup is one of my favorite dishes to prepare, but many uninitiated cooks are intimidated at the thought of making it. In truth, most recipes are extremely easy to master.

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Yesterday’s recipe for Turkey Italian Wedding Soup (right) is a perfect example. Reduced-sodium chicken broth serves as the base, to which you add seasonings, vegetables, pasta, and lean, homemade meatballs.

If I don’t have homemade stock in my freezer, I buy Swanson Certified Organic Chicken Broth or Pacific Natural Foods’ Low-Sodium, Free-Range Chicken Broth (also organic).

Green Things Up

Adding fresh leafy greens to any soup boosts its nutritional value.

Yesterday’s recipe called for spinach, which supplies vitamins A, C and K, plus the B vitamin folate, which has been linked to a reduced risk of some cancers. Also included were 4 cups of chopped escarole, a cousin of red-leafed radicchio.

If you can’t find escarole at your local natural and organic food store, you can substitute the more widely available kale.

Build a Better Meatball

When making meatballs for a soup, always buy lean meats.

In yesterday’s recipe, combining ground turkey breast and lean ground beef ensures the meatballs stay moist, while eliminating excess fat. The turkey helps you control your family’s red meat intake, which reduces the risk of colon cancer.

Meatballs always need to be seasoned, and yesterday’s recipe is deliciously savory, courtesy of the added breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, onion and garlic.

When making meatballs, avoid overmixing the ingredients. Otherwise, they’ll lose their tenderness.

Beat the Cold-Weather Blues

While I make homemade soups year-round, fall and winter are my favorite seasons. Hot soup is a wonderful antidote for cold weather—nutritious, lower in calories than a standard entree and easy on your wallet.

Take the homemade soup plunge in the new year! Here are some additional recipes to get you started—and be sure to let us know your favorites.

Homemade Soup Recipe Archive

Photo courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research