Few meals evoke thoughts of healing and warmth more than a bowl of soup—especially in a frigid winter or when fighting a cold. Soups have long been thought to be medicinal.
A big pot of soup sounds like a supper grandma used to cook on the stove all day, but we have some handy shortcuts that make healthy soup possible any night of the week!
Start with Stock: If you don’t have hours to cook down meat, bones and veggies for a rich soup base of your own, you can create a close second with store-bought stock or broth. To make it as wholesome as possible, take a close look at the label. You might want to start with organic chicken stock, for example. Or reduced-sodium could be an important attribute for your eating plan. Vegetable stock is available too, and if it’s an all-natural product in a box, you can avoid additives like artificial flavors or BPA lined cans.
Add the Veg: You could start from scratch and begin chopping an assortment of fresh vegetables to cook in your broth, but you don’t even have to go to that much trouble. One favorite trick is to use leftover salad to make your soup. It should not be dressed, of course, but almost anything else goes—salad greens cook down just as simply as spinach, and chopped or shredded cabbage, chickpeas, carrots, celery and even cucumber make interested additions to your pot. Another fast option is to use frozen vegetables and legumes—peas, edamame, broccoli, green beans and okra all work well!
Simplify Seasoning: Based on which broth and what kind of vegetables you add, you can choose a simple flavor profile for your soup. Two or three additions are all you need. If you’re adding beans and tomatoes, you might go with garlic, oregano and fresh basic for Italian flare. If you’re starting with chicken broth and frozen stir fry vegetables, try adding some ginger and lime, or even bit Sriracha if you like it hot.
Pick your Protein: The sky is the limit here, especially if you have some ready-made leftover meat on hand in the fridge or the freezer. Try any of the following for your soup pot: shrimp, scallops or cubes of mahi-mahi; the meat from a rotisserie chicken; thin pieces of raw steak which can cook for a few minutes in the hot broth; diced cooked ham, or firm tofu cubes. You can even swirl in a beaten egg or two for egg drop soup.
Grab a Grain: Your soup might not even need another ingredient at this point, but for even more fiber and heartiness, you can add a serving of grain to your bowl of soup. This is a great use for leftover brown rice or rice noodles or whole grain pasta. Other options might be corn kernels, diced potatoes, cooked farro or barley.