It's that time of the year again when winter is setting in and there's nothing more delicious than a steaming hot bowl or cup of homemade soup to warm you from the inside out.
I love soup! It can be a one bowl meal. It can be your veg with lunch (e.g. soup and sandwich). It can be a starter to dinner any night of the week. It can be a great snack if you're feeling peckish and can't wait till your next meal. It's nutritious, versatile, full of flavour and can be made in batches. And the bonus? Homemade soup is amazing value for money.
In wintertime I make soup three times per week - approx every second day, enough to last two days for our family of four. (well we have one non-soup fan so I'm usually feeding three with it but I'm patiently waiting for the day that he will convert.....).
I suggest homemade for so many reasons:
1) you can make a large batch for a fraction of the cost of buying packaged soup
2) you can choose fresh, local, seasonal and organic vegetables for your soup
3) you know exactly what goes into your pot and can cook at the right temperature for the right length of time to avoid destroying the nutrients.
4) you avoid the packaging waste of shop bought soups
5) a large bowl of vegetable soup could be counted as two portions of veg
6) If you're not into cooking, soup is definitely one of the easiest things to make and hard to get wrong!
7) if the kids can't wait until dinner is ready, soup is a great way of keeping hunger at bay without filling them up too much. Or perfect when they come in from school.
8) Its a great way of using up vegetables in the fridge if you've over purchased.
Regarding recipes, there are so many options out there as most cookery books will have a soups section. Try to avoid the ones with meat in them and opt for vegetables, grains and beans. The reason I say that is that there are enough opportunities to eat meat already and ideally we should be reducing our meat consumption instead of increasing it.
So why is soup a superfood? Vegetables are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories. Increasing vegetable intake (especially non-starchy vegetables) can contribute to better weight management, lower the bad cholesterol (LDL), reduced heart disease risks, reduce the risk of diabetes, the control of blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reduced risk of certain cancers and improved mood. Now that's a superfood!
(see World Health Organisation website for more detail on the health benefits of increasing your vegetable intake)
Aim for 5-7 portions of vegetables per day including at least one green vegetable. And Enjoy!.