There's no question: As temperatures plummet, a warm bowl of soup is absolutely food for the soul. But as Rebecca Katz - chef, nutritionist, and author of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen - says: "With all the different antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals, eating a bowl of soup is like giving your body an internal spa treatment." Here are some ways to make your soups extra healthy this winter, keeping you energized and vital through these dark, cold months - nourishing to the mind, body and soul.
1. If you generally saute your onions and garlic (or the popular onion-carrot-celery soup base) in oil at the onset of your recipe, consider switching to a healthy saute in vegetable broth. Cooking with oils is increasingly being found to be detrimental to your health. Check out our Cooking with Oils: The Manifesto here.
2. Most foods lose nutrients once cooked, and all foods will suffer nutritionally once overcooked. But research has shown that some veggies actually increase in antioxidant content upon cooking. You can reap the most health benefits from these in your cooked soups: carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, red cabbage, green and red peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. But keep in mind two things: Don't overcook and don't get anything out of a can.
3. To get the most from all the nutrient-dense foods your adding to your healthy soup, try simmering slowly on your stove top on low heat, avoiding boiling. High heats will destroy your soups nourishing potential.
4. Always include these ingredients in your soups for their phytonutrients that will keep your immune system burgeoning through these more susceptible times: Garlic, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and dark leafy greens like kale. Want a few more? Here are 10 Nutrient-Rich Foods that Fight Disease.
Here's an easy delicious soup recipe that we love from the World's Healthiest Foods to get you started:
Super Energy Kale Soup
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 medium carrot, diced into ¼-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 red potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes
- 3 cups kale, rinsed, stems removed and chopped very fine
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp dried sage
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop garlic and onions and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out their hidden health benefits.
- Heat 1 TBS broth in a medium soup pot.
- Healthy Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring frequently.
- Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.
- Add broth, carrots, and celery and bring to a boil on high heat.
- Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and kale and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 more minutes.
- Add rest of ingredients and cook another 5 minutes. If you want to simmer for a longer time for extra flavor and richness, you may need to add a little more broth.
image: Rob Ireton