Ahhhhh, Soup!

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While we were talking about healthy stuff yesterday, my mind immediately went to soup. Is there anything more calming, warming, satisfying and healthy than a good bowl of soup?

And by good bowl of soup I don’t mean Campbell’s, or Knorr or Progresso or any of the brands that start with “Healthy” and or any other soup that come in cans or frozen bags or tetra-paks. Why? Because they have astronomical sodium contents – some over 1,000 mg of sodium per cup! And most restaurant soups are the same — heated up, ready-made packages. Blech.

So your best option, of course, is to make your own soup. Anybody can make soup. You can’t mess up soup. There are no soup rules. You can literally throw anything into a pot with some water and call it soup.

And you don’t have to watch and tend soup like you do with other meals. You chuck the stuff into a slow cooker or put it on the stove on simmer and go do whatever until you feel like eating it.

Soup is great because it’s got lots of water which will fills you up without having to consume a lot of calories and fat and starch.  You have to eat soup slowly because it’s really hot and eating slowly is good. It helps you savour and enjoy the flavours.

 If you like creamy soups but don’t want the richness of creamy soups, do this: roughly chop up some onion, potato and whatever vegetable you like – fresh or frozen, (some good options are broccoli or asparagus or carrots/parsnips) add a few herbs, a little salt & pepper and a couple of spoonfuls of canned and rinsed navy or butter beans, (maybe some ginger if you’re making carrot soup) and enough water to cover everything. Let it simmer just until the potato is done. Then get out the hand-blender and blend everything into a creamy consistency. If you like chunks of stuff in your creamy soup, take out a few of the vegetables and beans before blending. Voila – your protein, veg and carbs all in one rich, luscious bowl of deliciousness.

This soup doesn’t freeze well because of the potato, but with most other soups you should always make a huge batch and then freeze what you don’t eat in individual serving-sized containers. (those Ziplock containers are excellent and stack nicely).

You never know when you might want soup. Really, there is no excuse for not having a good variety of soups in your freezer at all times. Right now, in my freezer (and it’s pretty tiny) I have:

  • Minestrone;
  • Split pea soup with fresh peas;
  • Red lentil, carrot ginger soup;
  • Soup au Pistou;
  • French onion soup;
  • Chick pea curry; and,
  • Stock.

 Stock is also a good thing to have on hand and to make yourself because again, store bought stock is all salt. I don’t even put salt in my stock. Whenever I end up with a collection of bits and pieces of vegetables that are getting a tad old I boil them up with a lot of water for about 30 minutes. I almost always make sure I add some celery and parsley to the mix because they make tasty and attractive stock. Also, any water left over from boiling vegetables can be saved up and frozen and added to stock. There’s lots of good stuff in that vegetable water.

 So, all of you who are looking to eat better, go make some soup.

*****

And, if I may paraphrase Conor who commented on yesterday’s post: getting fit and healthy is always referred to as a “battle” or “fight” against your body, when really you should think of it as a way of supporting yourself and your quality of life in feeling good and fit and getting the most out of each day.

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33 responses to “Ahhhhh, Soup!

  1. Soup is definitely a comfort food. My mom’s homemade tomato macaroni soup was the absolute best.
    A few months after Mom died, my sister and I were talking about that soup. My sister asked whether I had the recipe. Recipe? There was no such thing. But she agreed that she had watched Mom make it so often, she could probably duplicate it. She did — the first time. Now she just can’t get it right, and thinks Mom helped out the first time, and then said “You’re on your own, Kid.”

    Grandpa McIntyre was also a great soup maker. I think I’ve discussed this either here or on my own blog. He made fantastic pea soup, and considered “garbage can soup” his specialty. It was made with all the leftover vegetables that were in the fridge that the end of the week. He would serve soup with one of his trademarked peanut butter and tomato sandwiches, with the tomato slices coated with pepper.

  2. I’m a bit of a soup convert. Growing up I always found soup a bit lacking….I think maybe because I mainly had either smooth soups (usually of the Campbell’s variety) or broth soups with very little in them. They just seemed to lack substance.

    Now that I know there are lots of other types of soups out there, they’ve totally grown on me. My fave soup to make: Fry up some diced up pancetta, then throw in a bunch of chopped up onions, carrots, celery. Add soup stock and a jar of good tomato sauce. Heat to boil then let it simmer. Add white beans (I’m never remember to do them up ahead of time so I use the canned kind), and a whole lot of chopped fresh kale. Salt and pepper to taste. Yummy and substantial.

  3. When I was growing up I hated soup, too. I just didn’t like the liquid texture — I never wanted to eat foods that required a spoon. About five years ago I was at my mom’s house and she had made a lentil soup that totally won me over. Now I’m a total soup addict — I make my family have soup for dinner once a week (with biscuits and cheese on the side) and I don’t care if I’m the only one who eats it!

    I am intrigued at the idea of making my own stock — I don’t like store bought stock either, so I usually just use water, which isn’t as flavourful. When you are making the vegetable stock, do you leave the cooked veggies in there? Do you blend them up to make a smooth stock? Or do you lift them out, and only keep the water?

  4. A&J – Oh ya, it tastes even better when you haven’t just cooked it. You don’t even need to thaw it first, just pop the whole frozen block into a saucepan and let it melt/cook slowly

    Bob – Mmmm macaroni tomato. I want some now — with grilled cheese toast. Mmmm peanut butter tomato sandwiches. Garbage can soup is kind of like stone soup, except without the stone.

    Mary Lynn – That sounds good. I’m always looking for things to make with kale. Of course I’d make a vegetarian version. Really it just takes one new ingredient to make a whole new soup taste sensation. This recipe is vegetable soup — but add the pancetta and kale and it’s something completely new and intriguing. Thanks

    Lynn – I would eat all my meals with a spoon if I could. I loved soups when I was a kid, too. My mum made one at least once a week — a cheap feed for a big family. May favorite was the sauerkraut-potato with smoked sausage wedges floating in it. I love lentil soup, too — you can make it so many different ways. Oh and the stock, I strain it after it’s simmered for about 30 minutes, so it’s just broth — you can squeeze and squish the veggies a bit to get the marrowy stuff… the broth ends up cloudy but with no solids.

  5. jeepers XUP! i’m jealous. love minestrone! hey, is that lentil soup in your freezer the recipe i sent you? if so, then i think i at least desserve a bowl, no?

  6. All of these ideas sound so good! I’m going to make some this weekend. I can’t believe you can use your old vegetables to make soup broth. I’m a soup ignoramus.

  7. I think I’m getting sick so soup sounds wonderful. Thanks for all the ideas – if I can rouse my aching limbs enough to get something simmering on the stove.

  8. Jobthingy – Poor you. I have some in my freezer. I’ll just hop on the bus and bring it over to you. Oh wait….

    Raino – Sure, come on over. Hey, maybe we should do a soup exchange party like they do a Christmas with cookies. Everyone make their favourite soup, pack it up in individual server containers along with the recipe and bring it to the party. We sit around drink some wine and contemplate soup and then everyone goes home with half a dozen or so new soups and recipes!

    Laura – Hey glad this blog could further your soup knowledge somewhat. Don’t every throw old vegetables out – use them for stock. Except potatos. And don’t use produce that’s actually started to rot, of course. That would make for yucky stock.

    Pinklea – See, that’s why you should have a freezer well-stocked with soups. Poor you. Get better soon.

  9. that is an awsome idea! i would WAY prefer soup than cookies too. but don’t you think i really need to meet you guys before you start giving me soup?!lol

  10. Mmmmm, soup.

    I love making soup. I even think it says that in my Blogger profile. I just peeked in my freezer to check, and right now I have 2 containers of turkey vegetable noodle soup (frozen after Thanksgiving), 2 containers of broccoli cheddar soup (I often buy more broccoli than we end up eating, and after it goes a bit rubbery, it’s pretty well only good for soup, but it’s GOOD soup), and a container of beef barley soup (made from leftover pot roast and gravy).

    They are healthy, nutritious, and a great way to avoid throwing out perfectly good food. I even got soup as a Christmas gift this year! A friend layered spices, red lentils, barley, wild rice, dehydrated veggies (carrots, onions) tiny bowtie pasta and split peas in a small mason jar. It comes with instructions of how much water to add, and how long to cook. How cool is that? I think I’m going to make it this weekend.

    My other faves to make: minestrone, clam chowder, creamy tomato bacon, and bean and ham. I think I want some soup for lunch.

  11. Wow, I am really really impressed. Soup makers are like magicians to me.

    But, actually, now that I think about it, *I* made soup last week, too — the only one I know how to make: turkey soup, from a big ol’ turkey carcass that I absconded with from my friend’s New Year’s Day party. And a big container of *that* is in my freezer as we speak.

    *Smug*.

  12. Oh how I love soup. I could eat soup every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    As I’m not a vegetarian, my stock is usually chicken based. Just simmer a chicken carcass in water with onions and celery (if you have it) for an hour or so once you’ve brought it to a boil.

    When strained add your veggies and legumes and herbs and you’ve got a great soup with no salt. Lovely with grated parmesan and fresh bread.

    I often freeze the broth in ice cube trays (usually one tray = about 2 cups), which is really useful if you don’t need a quart of broth. Great, for instance for making rice, rather than using plain water.

    Oh, and try substituting curry for ginger in a carrot soup. It’s great.

  13. Raino – What better way to meet than at a soup swap?

    Alison – A woman after my own heart (except for the turkey and beef part). I’ve gotten some of those soup things for gifts before, too. One thing about pasta in soups though — I don’t like how they get all mushy, so I usually make the soup without the pasta and cook the pasta separately and just put in in the bowl as I go. Oh and bean soup– I haven’t made that for a long time..like baked beans, right, except soupy?

    Ellie – Soup is magic all on its own. We’re just the assistants. We bring all the bits and pieces and soup does it’s thing. If you can make turkey soup you can make any kind of soup. It’s all the same principel – water and some stuff.

    Jazz – I was going to mention the broth in the ice cube tray thing. Thanks I’ve done that before. It’s nice for stir frys, too when you want to stir fry without fat. Curried carrot sounds good. I’ll have to try that. My mum used to make plain carrot soup with a ham hock and it always made me gag because it had an overcooked carrot flavour to it, so I didn’t make carrot soup for a long time until I had a carrot ginger soup at a restaurant once. I haven’t ventured from that carrot combo yet, but curry should work nicely. Thanks again

  14. Blogging about soup brings to mind a quote from one of my favorite Christopher Guest films:

    “Leslie and I have an amazing relationship and it’s very physical, he still pushes all my buttons. People say ‘oh but he’s so much older than you’ and you know what, I’m the one having to push him away. We have so much in common, we both love soup and snow peas, we love the outdoors, and talking and not talking. We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.”

  15. Raino – I’ll leave you to organize it – ha ha.

    Dave – Now I have to weep. Very romantic. You gotta love someone who loves soup.

  16. Yeah, I use dried navy beans (baked beans beans) to make my bean and ham soup. It’s really hearty and just the thing to have after an afternoon of toboganning.

  17. Oh, how could I have missed this post. Soup is my most favourite meal to make. I even thought, at one time in an aberrant domestic moment, of posting a monthly soup recipe on my blog.

    Today all my chicken soup is gone as is the curried parsnip, and now I’m on to Mulligatawny.

  18. Alison – I’d love some of that right now, but without the ham. I think I’ll make some on the weekend.

    Violetsky – You didn’t miss it — look, here you are! I posted this late yesterday afternoon, that’s probably why. I once dreamed of opening my own soup restaurant (before Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi thing). It was going to be called The Soup Witch. It would only be open at lunch and pretty much just take-out with a few stools around the windows. I’d have maybe a dozen different soups every day — 9 staples and 3 unique daily. You’d get a bowl of soup and a slab of hearty homebaked bread which I’d commission some hearty baker to make for me fresh every day. I have a huge collection of soup cookbooks that I collected in preparation for this venture. I may still do it one day though I’ve kind of lost interest in spending the majority of my life chopping vegetables.

  19. I’ve been a soup lover since childhood, but for some reason I just don’t make it enough. I think I’m gonna have to learn more from you so I can become a real soup gal. Can I come over, sample each of your soups, and then watch as you prepare more soups for, say, the next month or so? I promise to only eat soup, and I do windows!

  20. dguzman – It’s a deal. Do you vacuum? Because I really need someone to vacuum regularly. I hate doing that. And could you clean the kitty litter twice a day also. I shall pay you in soup.

  21. I adore soup……….. Sooooooooo yummy and sooooooooooo warm. In fact, considering I spent nearly 3 hours outside in freezing Montreal weather today (another Gaza protest – least I can do is freeze my toes off and chant my voice hoarse), I could go for a bowl right now… Maybe I’ll have to go cook…

  22. Noha – Soup is the best. I made some more on the weekend. Sunday afternoons is soup-making time, I fill the slow-cooker with stuff and by evening I have soup for supper and more soup to stash away in the freezer. Did you make some this weekend?

    Nat – What kind did you make?

    Lesley – Did you make soup this weekend, too? Do they eat soup in California or just gazpacho?

  23. i love making soups, especially when it’s cold. i have one recipe that’s easy peasy, v8 juice, frozen mixed vegetables, fresh vegetables, and spices for hours in the crock pot.

    thanks for helping me remember that i need to get some soup going!

  24. DP – I hope you’re using the low sodium V8. Because the regular stuff will kill you it has so much salt. And you need some protein in that soup, woman. How about some kidney beans? Then it’s almost minestrone.

  25. I took all of my veggies (and as usual at the end of the week I had a ton of them) and made a broth, added rice and more vegetables and spices and oh my. It is greeeeeeat. I’ve never made soup, so I’m especially pleased with the results. My kitchen looked like a bomb went off in it, but it was all worth it. I made enough to take to my mom, my brother, and my father and stepmother.

    Thanks!

    So XUP, got any chili recipes!

  26. Laura – Excellent! One of the best things about soup is that you can pass it along! Chili, eh? I like to make a 3-bean chili using a can of white kidney beans, a can of red kidney beans and a can of black beans (rinse them well to get all the slime and salt off). Start by sauteeing a big onion, chopped up in some olive oil, add cumen, ground chilis, some thyme and whatever other herbs you might like. If you’re using hamburger or shredded stew meat add it when the onions start getting soft (I used TVP in my chili). Once all that’s brown, add the beans, a can of tomato paste and some chopped tomatoes or tomato juice, a bit of water and let it simmer for a long time (2 hours or all day in the crock pot). Near the end I’ll add some salt and maybe a bit of honey if the tomato paste is too tart.

  27. Or today I’m making pasta fagioli – sautee onions, fresh basil, salt, pepper and a touch of oregano, a smidgen of anchovy,add a can of rinsed white beans, some chopped tomato and some stock, simmer for a while – throw in some spinach at the end and serve in a bowl over pasta (macaroni or penne type). It should be a thick soupy consistency. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and add a side salad.