What Are You Craving these Days?

Even in my part of the country (southern California), January brings cold weather.  And like many baby boomers and older adults, this is when I think a lot about homemade comfort foods.  Which leads me to this question:  Who doesn’t love a hearty bowl of protein, fiber, and phytochemicals (that’s dietitian talk for beans and veggies).  Guess I’m not the only one enjoying a cup of soup these days–did you know that January is National Soup Month?

Soup throughout History

Most historians agree that soup dates back to around 20,000 BC.  The word itself derives from the French word “soupe,” meaning soup or broth.  About the 16th century, it referred to a highly concentrated, inexpensive food sold by street vendors in France, advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion.  In the 1700s, soup recipes first appeared in American colonial cookbooks.  Then in 1897, Dr. John T. Dorrance invented Campbell’s condensed soup, and the rest–as they say–is history.

Why this Dietitian Loves Soups

There’s one for every taste and season!

While I now prefer the vegan versions, I have fond memories of my mother’s homemade beef and chicken noodle soups.  And for a change from savory dishes, several sweet possibilities abound, such as butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, or even some Asian soup varieties. Cold soups are a refreshing dish in the summer (gazpacho, cucumber or avocado soup, fruit soups).

They are packed with nutrition.

Beans (cannellini, garbanzo, pinto, black, white) are great sources of protein and healthful fiber.  Vegetables contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and tiny micronutrients (phytochemicals that provide anti-inflamatory protection).

Note:  Processed foods can be very high in sodium.  A dry concentrated soup we bought for our pandemic pantry has a whopping 790 mg of sodium per cup.  (As a comparison, the recommendation is less than 2,300 mg per day).  Beware and read labels carefully–a “heart-healthy” soup has closer to 400 mg per serving.

Two meals/One preparation.

A large pot of soup is good for another meal or two.  Most soups hold in the refrigerator for several days, and in the freezer for up to 4 to 6 months.  Huge timesaver!

The World’s Easiest Homemade Soup

One of the issues I have with making soup is all the chopping and simmering.  I solved this problem with a very simple soup this fall, an idea that came to me while scanning the leftovers in my freezer.  So here’s my gift to you, the easiest version of minestrone soup ever:

Easy “Minestrone” Soup

Ingredients

  • Leftover homemade spaghetti sauce (not out of a jar, but something you put together with tomato sauce, spices–a foil packet mix is ok–maybe meat and veggies)
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables (zucchini, onion, carrots, spinach, green beans)
  • 1 can beans, not drained (cannellini, garbanzo, pinto, black…your favorite)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Instructions

  • Add ingredients to a pan, cover, and simmer until vegetables reach desired tenderness.
  • Add any seasonings or more liquid as needed.
  • To thicken soup–just before serving, remove about a quarter of the volume and blitz with an immersion blender, then add back to the pot.
  • Enjoy!

For more ideas to bring about healthy eating habits, please reach out to me.

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