COOKING: A good day for soup

"Souping" is the new "juicing" — piggy-backing on the smoothie and bone broth revolutions, it’s another way to put that expensive high-speed blender to work for healthy, vegetable forward lunches and zero waste meals.




By CINDA CHAVICH


In case you haven’t heard – souping is the new juicing.

If that’s not a verb in your vocabulary, here’s a translation – combine vegetables and herbs in your blender and puree, then drink, all goodness intact. It’s the latest trend in the diet world, with companies like Splendid Spoon in Brooklyn or Soupure in LA offering their plant-based “soup cleanse” selections delivered daily to your door.

And making soup is a great way to reduce food waste and boost your immune system with natural antioxidants at the same time.

Here in BC, Kits Kitchen makes soups with locally-sourced organic ingredients and sells them in returnable glass jars or freezable pouches in more than 30 stores from Whistler to Victoria. Kits Kitchen offers weekly home delivery in Vancouver, and has designed a $90 “48-hour Soup Reset” – a kind of quickie cleanse to “heal and recharge” your digestive system featuring eight soups and four broths, from butternut squash and ginger to sweet beet and cabbage, garlic and kale, cremini mushroom, and hearty chicken and curry stew.

“The gut is the doorway to the health of our brain and immune system,” says the online pitch, “so by supporting it, ultimately we are supporting the health of our body.

You can buy Kits Kitchen soups at Lifestyle Markets in Victoria, find homemade bone broths in the freezer at Ottavio, Vancouver’s SoupEtc soups at Whole Foods Market, or check out Dad’s Soups and Sangys café, where the monthly “soup calendar” announces three new homemade soups to try every day.


But it’s not hard to add “souping” to your home cooking routine. Piggy-backing on the smoothie and bone broth revolutions, it’s another way to put that expensive high-speed blender to work without over-dosing on fruity carbs, and adding the nourishment of nutrient-dense vegetables to the equation.

Soups are super nourishing, and loaded with vitamins and minerals that are easily digestible, so its not surprising that “souping” is the latest health food trend. The very act of simmering ingredients in water releases soluable nutrients, an extremely simple, convenient and delicious way to get the most from whole foods, whether you’re six or 60.

While today’s cleansing soup diets may seem innovative, the idea that soup contributes to a healthy, low-calorie diet plan is not new.

Dieters first embraced ideas like The Cabbage Soup Diet in the 1950s, and soup diets have long been prescribed to cure everything from cancer to the common cold.

Whether it’s chicken soup (a.k.a. Jewish penicillin), the “Toronto hospital” 7-Day Soup Diet, or a beefy barley soup, you can literally live on good, home-style soups.

And, as all French women know, starting every meal with a soup course helps control you appetite and your calorie intake.

But with today’s focus on functional “super foods”, a regular bowl or bottle of vegetable soup gets even more credit for maintaining good health. According to acolytes, a soup diet can help heal your digestive system, reduce inflammation, increase circulation and support your liver. A typical day on a California soup cleanse might include a soothing chicken broth, a chunky lentil and chickpea soup for healthy fibre, a zucchini basil soup and a calming lemongrass consommé. Fresh, low-calorie and conveniently gulpable, these cleansing soups are designed to provide about 800 calories daily, and be augmented by one healthy 400-calorie meal of lean protein and veggies.

Even if you’re not aiming for a complete cleanse, adding fresh soups to your daily routine is an easy way to improve your diet.

But unlike that fresh fruit smoothie, making a truly a great soup requires more than a blender. It’s always best to start with an aromatic mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery, sautéed until tender, then simmered together with water or broth, chunky vegetables, tomatoes, beans or lean protein, herbs and spices.

All goodness remains intact, and you’ll draw deep, delicious, homey flavours from your ingredients, too.

Smooth, pureed soups are easy to make and consume, and a great way to use up leftover vegetables. In fact, making soup is always a great way to creatively use up leftovers of all kinds, and reduce food waste at home.


The basic formula for creamed soup is quite simple – start by sautéing a chopped onion and a clove of minced garlic, add four cups of chicken or vegetable broth for the base, and puree with anything you like (think canned white beans and rosemary; a tin of tomatoes with fresh basil and cream; a bunch of sautéed mushrooms with evaporated milk; sautéed greens like spinach or kale with herbs). Heat everything together to meld the flavours and serve.

It only takes a little chopping and some simmering on the stove, to make a chunky soup or a silky puree that can be chilled or frozen for quick, convenient and healthy lunches or suppers.

Make soup on Sunday, then portion and refrigerate for lunches all week, or freeze for longer storage.

To kickstart a healthy soup diet, the experts recommend recipes that are big in vegetables and broths, low in fats and cream. Vegetable purees offer richness without added fat. Clear soups made with bone broths or savoury mushroom bases – think classic Hot and Sour soup or a healthy potage of leeks, garlic, onions and kale – are loaded with detoxifying nutrients. Bean and lentil soups help digestion with a dose of healthy fibre.

Soup is healing and comforting, so make soup and share it with someone who’s sick or living alone. Volunteer for a group like The Rainbow Kitchen or Soup Sisters to make soup for people who need a hot meal.

Always save bones and vegetable trimmings in the freezer so you can make your own healthy stocks for soups from scratch. Clean out the fridge and repurpose your leftovers in creative soups.

And think about sipping soup every day as a new healthy habit.




RECIPES:

Here are some of my own simple and super healthy soups to get you started – colourful pink beet soup, a rich coconut and ginger butternut squash soup, spicy thai tomato soup, red pepper soup and golden carrot and coriander soup. And for a hearty soup supper, try this Tuscan white bean and greens soup or chunky Southwestern turkey and corn chowder.

It’s always a good day for soup!



COOL PINK SIP

Sour cream turns cold beet broth pure pink – fun to sip cold from a cup or a bowl. From The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook by Cinda Chavich.


2 pounds (900 g) beets, scrubbed

2 red onions, quartered

1/4 cup (50 ml) EVO (extra virgin olive oil)

1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt

white pepper

4 cups (1 L) water

2 tablespoons (30 mL) red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon (15 mL) sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream

chopped fresh dill


Arrange beets and onions in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425º F for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beets and onions are tender. Cool.

Peel the beets and grate using a box grater (or the food processor). Chop the onions and combine with the beets in a saucepan. Add the water, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool. Puree with an immersion blender (or in a blender or food processor).

Whisk in the sour cream and chill for several hours or overnight. Adjust the seasoning and serve topped with dill. Serves 4.


CARROT AND CORIANDER SOUP

This is the perfect way to start a dinner party or just make for its healthy dose of beta-carotene, fibre and Vitamin A. A smooth colourful soup, creamy yet low in calories, with curative cumin and cleansing ginger, too. From The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook by Cinda Chavich.

¼ cup (50 mL) butter

½ cup (125 ml) chopped celery

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced ginger

1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground coriander

½ teaspoon (2 mL) curry powder

¼ cup (50 mL) chopped cilantro stems (save the leaves for garnish)

1 ½ pounds (700 g) carrots, peeled and chopped or shredded

5 cups (1.25 L) chicken broth

1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon juice

sea salt

1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped cilantro leaves


In a large saucpan, heat the butter and sauté the celery, onion, garlic and ginger over medium heat for 5 minutes, until tender and fragrant. Add the ground ground coriander, curry powder, cilantro stems and carrots, and cook together for another 5 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, partially cover the pan and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Cool the soup slightly, then transfer to a blender or food processor to puree. Return the soup to the pot and reheat. Thin with a little extra broth or water if necessary. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve 4-6.


CREAMY COCONUT SQUASH SOUP

Here’s a rich, colourful soup to serve to start a special dinner or simply serve it in a big bowl for lunch. Squash is packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fibre and B vitamins, and this is a great way to make this healthy and inexpensive vegetable both exotic and addictive. From The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook by Cinda Chavich.


1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive or coconut oil

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

2 large shallots, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon (15 ml) minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon (5 ml) Asian fish sauce

2 teaspoons (10 ml) sugar

3 cups (750 ml) chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) Asian chili paste (sambal olek)

pinch of white pepper

3 cups (750 ml) cubed butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed

1 2/3 cups (400 ml) light coconut milk (1 14-oz./400 ml can)

2 teaspoons (10 ml) lime juice

chopped cilantro


Lime ginger cream (optional):

1/3 cup (75 ml) sour cream

1 teaspoon (5 ml) fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon (5 ml) finely grated fresh lime zest

1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) finely minced fresh ginger (use a garlic press to release the juice)


To save time, combine the pepper, shallot, garlic and ginger in the food processor and pulse to mince.

In a soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the minced red peppers, shallots, garlic and ginger for 3 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the fish sauce, sugar, chicken broth, chili paste and white pepper, and bring to a boil.

Peel the squash, removed and discard the seeds, and cut it into cubes. Add the squash to the pot, cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the solids to a food processor and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the liquid in the pot and add the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Season to taste with salt the pepper.

For the garnish, in a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lime juice, zest and minced ginger.

Serve the soup with a dollop of the lime ginger cream and garnish with a little chopped cilantro. Serves 6.


CREAMY CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Diner en Blanc? Start with a creamy cauliflower soup, served hot in shot glasses to sip, or chilled with chive blossom garnish as an elegant appetizer.


1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil

1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter

½ cup (125 mL) chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

6 cups (1.5 L) cauliflower florets (used orange, purple or green cauliflower for colourful starters, or stick with pure white)

3 cups (750 mL) chicken stock

1 cup (250 mL) half-and-half cream or evaporated milk

salt and white pepper


In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onions are soft and translucent.


Add the cauliflower and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, until cauliflower in soft.


Remove from heat and cool slightly. Puree in a blender or using a hand blender until smooth. Add the cream, return the pan to medium heat and heat to boiling.

Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Serves 6.


EASY TOMATO SOUP

Open the pantry to find the ingredients for this simple and healthy tomato soup.


2 tablespoons (25 mL) olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 28-oz cans tomatoes

1 ½ cups (375 mL) water or stock

a splash (1/2 teaspoon/2 ml) Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon (15 mL) finely chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

optional garnish: sour cream


In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic together for 5 minutes until soft (don’t brown). Add the tomatoes and water or stock. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.

Stir in the Worcestershire and fresh basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve soup in individual bowls with an artful swirl of sour cream on top. Serves 6.



CORN CHOWDER

Cream makes this colourful chowder decadent but evaporated milk makes a creamy soup that is far lower in fat and calories.


1/4 cup (50 mL) butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

3 cups (750 mL) corn kernels (fresh or frozen), divided in half

1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt

1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon (2 mL) oregano

dash of chili powder

dash of cumin

4 cups (1 L) chicken stock

1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream or evaporated milk (not sweetened)

1 large potato, diced

dash of Tabasco

1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped


In a large pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onion, celery, half the corn, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes, until tender.

Cool the mixture slightly then puree in a food processor and return to the pot. Stir in the oregano, chili powder cumin and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, just until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in the cream or milk, Tabasco and red pepper and remaining corn kernels. Return the soup to a boil and cook together for 5 minutes, just until the corn is tender. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary and serve immediately.


TUSCAN GREENS AND BEANS SOUP

Too many greens in the garden? Make a pot of this rustic Italian soup. In Italy, home cooks never waste the rinds of expensive Parmesan cheese — add them to the soup at the beginning of cooking for flavour, and discard before serving.

You can also use two small cans of white beans for this soup. Rinse and drain them well before adding to the soup, reduce the liquid to 6 cups and simmering time to 20 minutes.


2 cups (500 mL) dried white beans

3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only)

¼ cup (50 mL) extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 ripe Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

8 cups (2L) low-salt chicken broth or water

1 bay leaf

3 cups (750 mL) fresh kale, chard, spinach, or beet greens, washed well and chopped

2 teaspoons (10mL) minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon (15 mL) balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon (5 mL) Asian chili paste

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Garnish:

1 tablespoon (15 mL) basil pesto

shavings of Parmesan cheese


Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover (or quick soak in a pressure cooker – bring beans and water to full pressure then remove from heat and let stand until pressure drops naturally.) Drain.

Halve the leeks lengthwise, wash thoroughly, and slice thinly. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the leeks and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and chopped tomatoes, and cook together for 2 minutes. Add the drained beans and bay leaf to the pot with the broth or water.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes, until the beans are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Remove a cup of the soup and puree in the blender until smooth then return to the pot. Add the chopped greens to the hot soup and heat through, stirring just until the greens wilt.

Stir in the fresh rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Season the soup to taste with chili paste, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Top each serving with a little basil pesto and some shavings of Parmesan (use a vegetable peeler to create them).

Makes 8 cups – 6-8 servings.


SCOTCH BROTH

A great way to use the last bits of roast lamb and squeeze more flavour from the bones.


1 teaspoon (5 mL) olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

leftover roast lamb bones

4 cups (1 L) chicken broth

4 cups (1 L) water

2 cups (500 mL) diced rutabaga

1 cup (250 mL) diced carrots

1 cup (250 mL) pearl barley

1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced garlic

1/2 pound (250 g) leftover roast lamb, chopped into small cubes

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon/ 2 ml dried thyme )

salt to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley


In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil and over medium high heat and sauté the onion and celery until beginning to brown.

Add the lamb bones to the pot and brown the bones for 10 minutes before adding the broth, water, rutabaga and carrots. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the barley, garlic, pepper and thyme leaves and continue to simmer for 45 minutes, until the barley is tender and the soup is thickened.

Remove the lamb bones and discard.

Stir in the leftover roast lamb and heat through. If the soup is too thick, thin with a little more water or stock. Season to taste with salt and serve each bowl topped with a little chopped parsley.

Makes 8 main dish servings (and keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.)


TURKEY AND CORN CHOWDER

You’ll never recognize the leftover turkey in this spicy soup – a meal in a bowl garnished with crushed tortilla chips or curly strips of corn tortillas that have been fried until crisp.


1 tablespoon (15 ml) canola oil

1 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, minced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

2 carrots, finely diced

2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried oregano

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin

1 teaspoon (5 ml) chili paste

4 cups (1 L) chicken stock

1 can (7.5 oz./220 ml) tomato sauce

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 cups (500 ml) canned or frozen corn

2 cups (500 ml) chopped roasted turkey (or chicken)

2 tablespoons (25 ml) lime juice

salt, freshly ground black pepper and chili paste, to taste

crushed tortilla chips (or fried corn tortilla strips) to garnish


Heat the oil in a large soup pot and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the celery, pepper and carrots and cook for 5 minutes more.

Stir in the oregano, cumin and chili paste and heat for 1 minute, then add the stock, tomato sauce and jalapeno. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the corn and chopped turkey and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender. Stir in the lime juice and season the soup to taste with salt, pepper and extra chili paste.

Serve in shallow bowls, with a few corn tortilla chips crushed on top.

Serves 4-6.


HAM AND WHITE BEAN, SPLIT PEA OR LENTIL SOUP

This is a versatile soup recipe that utilizes the leftover ham bone. Feel free to add more vegetables – a cup of frozen green peas or shredded cabbage is a nice addition at the end – or use some fresh chopped herbs like parsley. I like to add some leftover cooked rice or barley to this soup for added texture, too.


2 tablespoons (25 mL) olive oil

2 cups (500 mL) chopped onion

2 tablespoons (25 mL) chopped garlic

½ cup (125 mL) each, chopped celery and carrot

1 medium potato, peeled and chopped or shredded

4 cups (1 L) chicken stock

1 cup (250 mL) white wine

2 cups (500 mL) water

1 meaty ham bone or chunk of ham

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) dried thyme

1 bay leaf

pinch of cayenne

2 cups (500 mL) small white beans, soaked overnight (or use 2 cups of split peas or brown lentils, no soaking necessary)

1 tomato seeded and chopped

½ cup (125 mL) cooked rice or barley (optional)

1 cup (250 mL) frozen green peas, thawed (optional)

salt and pepper to taste


In a deep stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until tender and starting to colour.

Add the potato, chicken stock, wine, water and ham bone. Stir in the thyme, bay leaf, cayenne and soaked beans or lentils.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the ham bone. Remove any cooked ham from the bone, chop and stir back into the soup along with the tomatoes. Adjust seasoning and add cooked rice, frozen peas, finely slivered cabbage or fresh herbs, if desired. You can crush some of the potatoes against the side of the pot, to help thicken the mixture, or partially puree the soup with a hand blender to make it smoother, if desired. Serves 6-8.


Copyright Cinda Chavich


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