Is quick and easy soup possible? Everyone knows that soup needs time to simmer; to blend the flavors to perfection. Many say they would never attempt to make homemade soup, but it can be one of the simplest healthy recipes to prepare! Definitely a healthy diet habit that should be a part of everyone’s fall and winter meal plans and even into summer, as there are many lighter or cold soups that work well.
1. Start with broth as your base! Here you have two choices. Purchase an organic low salt broth or soup. I usually use Trader Joe’s vegetable broth, chicken broth, tomato soup, or I have used their spicy black bean soup as a base for a huge pot of my black bean soup! I usually add one or two cartons of broth. The second choice is to make your own broth and freeze it. If I make a chicken meal, I will make a pot of chicken broth at the same time. Multitask! I use the parts of the chicken that have little meat or the carcass. During my meal production, I will grind extra vegetables in my blender for my broth. I usually use onions, celery, spinach, carrots, zucchini, garlic, basil, pepper, and a little salt. Later I freeze broth in 4 cup containers or bags for soup use!
2. Save leftovers for your soup: If you have vegetables, pasta, or any leftovers, save them in your freezer and keep adding to the bag. Don’t throw away any little bits that are not enough to save. On soup day you can blend them to add flavor to your broth or dump them into your actual soup. You can also re-purpose leftovers from the previous night into the base of a great soup!
3. Cook extra meat when you use meat. Chop and freeze for later use in soup meals. If you have a chicken meal, pull the remaining chicken off of the bones and save it for soup. It’s simple to bake an extra chicken breast for a later soup. My tip is to put the extras away before the meal, because someone will grab the extra meat for seconds or thirds! Been there!
4. Get into Legumes: Either purchase canned beans, which save much time, or prepare and freeze a huge pot of beans at one time. Freeze beans in 2 to 4 cup containers. Try new blends of sprouted beans too. TruRoots has an organic blend of sprouted lentils, adzuki, and mung beans that is awesome! Try all the different colors of lentils too! Orange lentils are becoming more available and they make great soup.
5. Use pre-cut vegetables or blends of frozen vegetables. There are so many prepared vegetables. I always use chopped cabbage, grated carrots, and broccoli slaw, but there are so many other fresh blends. I have also used Trader Joe’s frozen organic four vegetable blend of peas, beans, corn and carrots, or their soycatash blend. Simple dump and go easy soup!
6. Use unique pasta, rice, quinoa, or whole grains: Dried tortellini filled with basil or cheese, brown rice, and small pasta shapes, go well with chicken soup. I love whole grains like barley, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, or cracked wheat with vegetable soup. My new love is Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend, which is a combo of Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. I recently paired it with acorn squash, kale, spinach, and sausage and it was amazing. Look for interesting blends of rice and grains or check out stores that have bins of whole grains.
7. Use great spices and herbs: I always add tons of spices to soup, except salt. I check out existing recipes to see what spices are used. From there I experiment and taste. I always use fresh herbs. If you leave them out, your soup won’t be nearly as good. Over time you will know what you love. I always use fresh basil with chicken soup and cumin, cilantro, and lemon, with most of my bean soups and chili. The key is to add way more spice than you think is necessary for very tasty soup. My pet peeve is that most easy soup is so bland!
Following these easy soup tips will help you to develop a large collection of healthy soup recipes! I recommend making a huge pot of soup each week and freezing part for healthy lunch meals, or a later dinner meal when you arrive home late. Follow these cheats and you will never again reach for canned soup!