January is National Soup Month and we can’t think of a better way to feed ourselves on a cold winter day! So far, it looks like Mother Nature is doubling down on cool weather across the country to help us get in the mood for a big, steaming pot of soup!
These one pot wonders are not only a full meal in a bowl, but generally include ingredients from multiple food groups like proteins, veggies and grains. The ingredient combinations are unlimited and appeal to a variety of palettes by tailoring the amount of spicy, sweet and savory ingredients added.
Raise a spoon and fill your bowl with delicious soup this month and all through the year! Here are a few simple soup tips for healthier eating, saving time and adding more deliciousness to each bowl:
MAKE HEALTHIER SOUPS
Easily adapt soup recipes to make them healthier by substituting with healthier ingredients.
Stocks and broths can be very high in sodium, especially those that are concentrates. Look for lower sodium options or make your own to control the sodium levels if needed. Try out Chef Rusty Bowers’ CHICKEN BROTH recipe.
Add more veggies! Soups are pretty forgiving if you don’t follow measurements exactly, so add more veggies to bump up your daily dose of healthiness. Add more chopped veggies for additional chunkiness (may need to add additional liquid to keep the soup consistency), or for a thinner soup, add a pureed vegetable or vegetable juice.
Creamy soups usually call for heavy cream, which is fairly high in fat. There are alternatives like milk with cornstarch, silken tofu and soy milk, evaporated skim milk, Greek yogurt mixed with milk, or even cottage cheese and milk (remove curds/lump by blending with an immersion blender or food processor) that can all be used in place of heavy cream to add creaminess to a soup without the added fat content. Our recipe for SLOW COOKER CREAMY GREEN CHILI CHICKEN ENCHILADA SOUP uses low fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt to add creaminess.
TIME SAVING SOUPS
The slow cooker is your soup friend! Most soups can be converted to the slow cooker method fairly easily and can often help eliminate a few steps! Try our SLOW COOKER CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
The modern pressure cookers like the Instant Pots have taken the process of making stocks and broths to a whole new level. Instead of 3-6 hours to simmer a pot of chicken stock, you can make a batch in under an hour! Here’s a great recipe for INSTANT POT CHICKEN BROTH
Make a big batch of soup and freeze it for future meals! Broth based soups freeze very well, especially ingredients like beans, meat, rice and most non-starchy vegetables. Potato based soups don’t usually freeze well nor do ones that are thickened with cornstarch. If you want to freeze a soup that has pasta or noodles in it, freeze without that item added and just add when the soup base is reheated. Creamy soups can be frozen, but tend to thicken even more after being in the freezer. A slow thaw and slow reheating is the key to keeping the proper texture of reheated creamy soups. [SAFETY TIP: The safest way to cool your soup and help prevent food-borne bacteria is to use an ice bath to rapidly cool the soup. Place your soup pot in an ice bath in your sink, adding more ice as the pan warms the water, and stir the soup occasionally for even cooling.] This FIRE ROASTED CHICKEN SOUP would freeze beautifully!
Since there are no hard and fast rules, the possibilities could be endless. Experiment, explore and enjoy!