Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Make a Healthy Soup

This time of year, there is nothing quite as soothing as a steaming bowl of delicious soup. Unfortunately, canned soups contain an insane amount of sodium (even low sodium soups have way more than you really should eat in a single meal). Plus, the pre-made stuff is full of preservatives and simply does not taste as satisfying as the homemade stuff.

So, how can you make a bowl of soup simply and easily without filling a huge stock pot? It's simple. Just follow these steps and you'll have your own, custom soup recipe cooked up in no time.

1. Choose a base: Making your own stock requires a large pot, lots of water, and, inevitably, a lot of left overs. You only really need about two cups of liquid for a large portion of soup. So, try picking up low-sodium canned broth (Campell's makes a really good low-sodium chicken broth). You can also use diced tomatoes in juices or plain water (best if slow cooking). Like cream soups? You can add a little milk to any choice above for a light creamy texture. **Tip: to reduce the sodium in canned broth, mix one part broth with one part water.

2. Add some vegetables: Pretty much any vegetables will work in your soup. So, just pick the varieties you like the best. I love spinach, broccoli, celery, and zucchini! Keep in ind that some vegetables cook best if you saute them in the bottom of the pot first (ex. onions). Try to add only about a cup or two of veggies or you may need to add more liquid.

3. Pick a protein: You can keep your soup veggie-only if you want, but for a heartier meal you'll want to add a protein. If you choose a meat or seafood protein, you want it to be pre-cooked. You can also use beans, tofu, or tempeh for a vegetarian option. For every two cups of liquid, you probably only need half a cup of protein (depending on how thick your soup is).

4. Season it: This is the fun part! Add any seasonings you like. Also, add a bay leaf! They are great in almost any soup. Just keep in mind, the longer your soup cooks, the more pugnent your spices will become. Looking for some good combinations? Try these:
  • Italian: garlic, oregano, basil, parsley
  • Earthy: thyme, rosemary, sage, black pepper
  • Southwestern: cumin, chili powder, garlic, cayenne
5. Get cooking: For the actual cooking, you have two choices. You can either cook it on the stove or in a slow cooker. In either case, the longer you let it simmer, the better. If cooking on the stove, bring your soup to a boil. Then, lower the head, put on a lid, and let it sit. If you have a slow cooker, simply cook it on low or medium (depending how long you have). Remember, in a slow cooker you'll want to give the soup at least 4 hours for best flavor.

No comments:

Post a Comment