First up some of my favorite ingredients for making soups and their benefits. There are lots of reasons for having soups. While soups don’t release mood boosting endorphins like chocolate, still these are a perfect remedy for sore moods.
This delicious winter meal is warming and satisfying, plus it is an ideal comfort food. And who doesn’t need some TLC when the weather starts to get nasty?
Also, it is easily the best way to score our nutrient quota easily. We all know that we need to have more of nutrient dense and fibre heavy foods - whole grains, veggies, and beans. And it is super easy to sneak them in via a soup.
Plus they are perfect for everyone, across geography and age groups, as they are light and easy to digest, help rehydrate us by replenishing the fluids we lose daily and fill us up on essential nutrients.
And contrary to popular thinking, soups actually travel well!
First up some of my favorite ingredients for making soups and their benefits:
Tomatoes: The Lycopene in it helps strengthen the bones and reduces the risk of cancer, and chromium in it helps to regulate blood sugar.
These are very low in calories, high in fibre and deliver a whooping amount of beta-carotene (Vitamin A). Plus, they are naturally low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol.
Cucumber: This cooling, water filled vegetable is amazingly alkaline and also works as a diuretic besides helping boost immunity.
Asparagus: A good source of vitamin K, it is also loaded with B vitamins that can help keep lethargy away and also help calm us.
Mint: is a great appetizer, promotes digestion, soothes cramps, and prevents acidity and inflammation in the stomach, all of which are common problems in winter.
Ginger and garlic: For that extra zing and lots of antioxidants.
Lentils: A great way to get in some extra protein our diet.
Leafy vegetables: Add a lot of fibre along with nutrients.
Carrots: Carrots because of their high soluble fibre content, largely pectin, have been found to help cut down cholesterol in the body. And as they are a rich source of potassium, which is a vasodilator they help relax the tension in the blood vessels and arteries and boost blood flow and circulation.
Avocado: Loaded with good fat MUFA, potassium, and the elusive folate, it also has other disease-fighting compounds like lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E.
Take it to the office, but be sure to use a container with a top that seals well. You can even carry soup broths in the car in a travel mug.
But still, most of us begin giving them a skip as this warm cup often does not seem palatable to many of us. That's why we must get innovative with soup recipes and make them exciting.
Broccoli: loaded with phytochemicals, broccoli boost enzymes that detoxify the body and helps prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and high BP.
Mushrooms: helps strengthen the body from inside by upping our natural resistance to diseases. They are high in zinc too, which adds power to the disease fighters - white blood cells.
5 Drinks for a Healthy Liver
Try Your Hand At These Recipes!
1. Broccoli Soup
Heat butter, add chopped garlic, onion and broccoli, sauté for 2-3 min.
Add water, soaked almonds, salt, bay leaf, cover and boil for 10 min in sim. Cool a bit, remove the bay leaf and grind. In a pan heat a little butter add the ground broccoli, season with pepper and cinnamon powder.
2. Cucumber Pea and Lettuce Soup
Heat 1 tsp oil, cook a few sliced spring onions until softened. Add one sliced cucumber, 1 lettuce and 250 gm peas and 1 liter boiled water.
Stir in the 4 tsp veg stock, cover and simmer for 10 mins or until the vegetables are soft. Blitz the mixture with a hand blender. Serve hot or cold, with rye bread alongside.
3. Pumpkin soup
Peel 250 gm pumpkin cut into cubes. In a medium saucepan combine the pumpkin, few garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 1 and a half cup water (or vegetable stock) and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
Add half chopped red pepper and simmer further 1- minutes. In a food processor or blender puree the mixture in batches and return to the pan.
Stir in the a dash of cream, a bit of cooked pasta (optional). season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper reheat soup over low heat, stirring for a few minutes.
4. Easy mushroom soup
Chop 200 gm mushrooms finely, boil in 2.5 cups water for about 10 min. Add chopped a few green onions, half a capsicum and 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed in water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add salt, pepper, a dash of coriander stalk and leaves and a squeeze of lemon.
And in the end some soaked slivered almonds.
5. Carrot and Ginger Soup
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan, add one onion, 2 inch ginger and few cloves of garlic, and fry for 5 mins until starting to soften. Stir in the a pinch of nutmeg and cook for 1 min more. Pour in 1 liter veg stock, add 200 gm carrots, 100 gm canned beans, then cover and simmer for 20-25 mins until the carrots are tender.
Scoop a third of the mixture into a bowl and blitz the remainder with a hand blender. Return every-thing to the pan and heat until bubbling. Serve topped with 4 tbsp al-monds and dash of nutmeg.
6. Minestrone with a twist
Heat 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan, add 1/2 small finely chopped onion, 1/2 chopped carrot and 1 chopped celery stick. Cook for 8-10 minutes until softened, add 1 small piece of chicken, boiled and cubed (skip it if you're vegetarian), 1 crushed garlic clove and 1 tablespoons chopped basil.
Fry for another 2-3 minutes.
Add 250 ml hot chicken or vegetable stock, 1 chopped tomato and 50 gm steamed french beans. Mash 50 gm beans, stir into the soup and simmer for 30 minutes, adding a handful of minestrone pasta (or noodles) and 50 gm shredded cabbage for the last 10 minutes.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)