The aroma instantly brings a smile to your lips and your senses come alive with the anticipation of the flavors that will dance on your tongue and warm your tummy. This is the perfect weather for enjoying a steaming hot bowl of your favorite comforting soup.
Aside from some heavy cream versions that are very high in fat and calories, most soups deliver plenty of health benefits.
An easy way to eat your veggies
Do you have trouble getting enough vegetables each day? Some soups can supply you with a full serving and up to your daily recommended consumption of vegetables. If creamy is what you desire, a puree of pumpkin or butternut squash makes for a rich base to fill your bowl. We’ve extolled the benefits of fall/winter squash in a previous article, Let’s Give ‘em Pumpkin to Talk About. All squash—winter and those commonly known as summer squash, such as zucchini—hold up well in soups. Winter squash is generally higher in vitamin B1, while summer squash is richer in B2 and Vitamin C. A big difference, though, in winter versus summer squash is the amount of magnesium per serving. Winter squash contains about double the amount, and most Americans do not get enough of the mineral, which is best achieved via foods rather than supplements.
According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., Mayo Clinic: “Magnesium plays many crucial roles in the body, such as supporting muscle and nerve function and energy production. Low magnesium levels usually don’t cause symptoms. However, chronically low levels can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. Too much magnesium from foods isn’t a concern for healthy adults. However, the same can’t be said for supplements. High doses of magnesium from supplements or medications can cause nausea, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.”
That cup or bowl of piping hot goodness is hydration in a meal. People tend to consume less liquid in cold weather when they are less likely to be getting hot and sweaty, but it is always best for your health to stay hydrated regardless of weather. Soup is a healthy way to get that liquid, compared to other hot concoctions. It is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, many of which are known to fight disease. Amp up your pot au feu’s immune-boosting powers by loading it up with garlic, onions, celery, and carrots.
Filling your bowl with goodness
You can aid your digestive health by adding fiber-rich veggies, beans, and lentils to that simmering pot. The fiber is not just good for gut health, but also will help keep you satiated longer, which can be helpful in keeping your blood sugar levels stable. Take that soup to the next level by starting with a bone broth. If you don’t make your own, be careful of how much sodium is in the broth you buy—and that goes for any store-bought broth or stock. When making your own bone broth, slow-cook the whole carcass with bones, tendons, and ligaments. The result will be a delicious bone broth that is high in gelatin, collagen, and glycine that have a natural anti-inflammatory effect.
Making soup is simple to do and easy on the wallet. There are any number of gadgets you can use to make soup but for centuries a pot and a heat source were the only required tools. Once you’ve done the work of prepping the ingredients, cooking soup is fairly hands-off. Pro tip: when making soup, make a BIG pot, as it freezes beautifully. Then next time the weather has you yearning for that savory broth—or maybe you are just too tired to cook—you just need to pull it out of the freezer, reheat, and enjoy. You won’t break the bank shopping for ingredients to make a delicious and satisfyingly hearty soup. Even when adding protein, you can keep your recipe budget-friendly, as small quantities go a long way.
Now, please excuse me. I am about to enjoy a steaming bowl of savory black garlic ramen with a perfectly hard-boiled egg and fresh kale added right near the end of the cooking. So satisfying.
Contributing writer Denise Lum is a Health and Fitness Coach raising her family in Alameda. Contact her via [email protected] or FitnessByDsign.com. Her writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Denise-Lum.