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Winter Soup Recipes that Warm and Nourish

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The winter months have descended upon us again. For a lot of us, this means succumbing to gloominess, depression and over-eating on comforting foods. Intake of fresh fruits and vegetables tends to decline and starchy and fatty meals take precedence. The result are not always favourable though, and include weight gain and increased risk of winter illnesses, like colds and flu as well as an increased risk for chronic disease. One great way to keep vegetable intake high is by indulging in some warm and hearty vegetable-rich soups. There are many soups on the market that come in packets and tins, but sometimes these are not the best choice, as they could be unduly high in fats and preservatives. Its best therefore to go the home-made route whenever possible.

What you put into your soup is what you get out of it; so add the freshest and healthiest veggies to your pot for best results. Here are some of my favourite winter soup vegetables:

 

Beetroot

 

Beets are a good source of B vitamins, especially folate and are also rich in the electrolyte minerals magnesium and potassium. They are also rich in iron and copper. Beets also contain a good dose of vitamin C.

Broccoli

Broccoli is a rich source of the fat-soluble vitamins, A, E and K, as well as vitamins C, folate and B6. It also contains high doses of the minerals iron, calcium potassium, magnesium and phosphorous. Broccoli also contains additional antioxidant compounds, known as indoles and sulphoraphane and is a good source of lutein. Green plants also contain chlorophyll, which is similar to haemoglobin in humans.

Butternut

Butternut a very good source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. They are also a source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. Sweet potato and pumpkin can also be used in the same way as butternut and has similar health benefits.

Cabbage

Cabbage contains the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin. It also contains the minerals magnesium, calcium and potassium and some vitamin A and vitamin C. Cabbage, like broccoli, contains indoles and sulphoraphane.

Celery

Celery contains vitamin C, and is a good source of folate, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin B6 as well as copper and magnesium.

Green Peas and Split peas

Green peas are an exceptional source of vitamin C and vitamin K, with 1 cup supplying nearly half of the Daily Value for vitamin C and over half for Vitamin K. They also contain a reasonable amount of carbohydrate energy, in the low glycemic index form. Green peas also contain vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, folate and iron as well as a reasonable concentration of B vitamins.

Onions

Onions are a good source of vitamin C. They also contain magnesium, chromium, vitamin B6, folate, and potassium. Onions contain allicin, allyl propyl and other sulphur-containing antioxidants.

Potatoes

Potatoes contain complex carbohydrates, making them a good source of energy. Potatoes are surprisingly a very good source of vitamin C, with one medium potato containing up to 25% of the Daily Value. They are also a good source of vitamin B6 (one potato gives you 20% of the daily value), copper, potassium and manganese.

Spinach

 

Spinach is particularly rich in vitamin K (nearly 200% of the daily value per cup). It also contains vitamin A and is a good source of magnesium, folate and iron. Spinach is also a good source of alpha-lipoic acid, lutein, zeaxanthin, polyphenols and betaine.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C with one cup supplying over 50% of the Daily Value. They are also a source of vitamin A, vitamin K and the mineral potassium. Tomatoes contain a special antioxidant carotenoid called lycopene, which is responsible for most of its health benefits.

Legumes

Legumes contain up to 50g of protein per cup. They are also a good source of folate, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium. Examples of legumes are lentils (black, green and red), chickpeas, red kidney beans, sugar beans and black beans.

 

Choosing a Soup Stock

 

Most commercial soup stocks contain some potentially unhealthy ingredients. For one thing, they are very high in sodium, which could contribute to high blood pressure in excess. Most stocks also contain a hefty dose of the flavour enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate), which has been linked to sensitivities in some people. Stock also contains a small amount of fat, typically in the form on hydrogenated oil, also known as trans fat, which has been linked to increased heart disease and cancer risk. However, the small amount of trans fat found in stock is unlikely to have any major health effects. There are “healthier” stocks on the market, but these can be quite hard to come by and you would probably need to visit your local health food shop to find these. To reduce the risks associated with stocks, use less then you would normally use, and flavour soups with lots of herbs instead. It is also possible to make a delicious soup with no stock at all, as the soup will absorb the flavour of the vegetables.

 

Other Additions

 

A healthy winter soup should be vegetable based, but it is also customary to sometimes add meat to a soup. For example beef, lamb, chicken or fish can be added to a soup to add variety and also some protein, making it a complete meal. Remember that legumes also provide sufficient protein. Creamy soups are high in saturated fat but for most recipes you can use fat free plain yogurt instead of cream for flavour.

Winter Soup Recipes

Chunky Lentil Winter Soup Recipe (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

¼-cup olive oil

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 can crushed tomatoes

2 cups dry lentils

8 cups water

½-cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced

salt to taste

ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Green Soup (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1-cup broccoli florets

1 cup baby marrow, sliced

3 cups spinach

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 cup green peas

2.5-cups vegetable broth

1/2-cup olive oil

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried sage

Directions

Place broccoli, baby marrow, spinach, bell pepper and green peas in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Pour puree into a large pot. Stir in broth and olive oil. Heat soup over medium-high heat. Stir in pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and sage. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve the soup with a dollop of fat free plain yogurt over each bowl.

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