Soup an easy way of increasing your daily vegetable intake.
I really love soup and vegetable-based soups in particular.
Pumpkin, carrot, minestrone, broccoli, mushroom, Borsch (beetroot), leek and potato, tomato, and basil, corn the list is endless.
I love just vegetable soups but also make those with some added animal protein such as chicken and vegetable, Beef and vegetable, pea and ham. The addition of the meat makes them much richer and more filling. Just ideal for a main meal or during the colder months when sitting down to a warm hearty bowl of soup seems the thing to do.
According to Nutrition Australia just a single bowl of their hearty lentil soup contains 4 serves of vegetables per bowl https://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/recipe/hearty-chicken-and-lentil-soup
And their Moroccan pumpkin soup contain a whopping 4.5 serves of vegetables per bowl. https://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/recipe/moroccan-pumpkin-soup
It is generally accepted that a serving size in 250 ml.
If I am having soup as a meal, say at lunchtime, I would usually consume 500 ml or 2 cups.
Which means I could be getting up to 8 serves of vegetables in one meal.
This just demonstrates how easy it is to up your vegetable intake by eating vegetable soups regularly.
I cook soup in big batches and freeze it in serving sizes. This is such as an easy and convenient way to have on hand a lunch time meal, afternoon snack or for easy entrée before dinner.
Here are a few of my tips on making your own vegetable-based soups.
- Start with a Great stock– a good stock not only adds flavour by also add nutrients to your soup. I make my own Bone Broth to use in soups. Mostly chicken but also beef and lamb.
It adds a depth of flavour not achieved with just stock and it adds an increased level of nutrition to my soups.
But if you are not into making bone broth then a simple stock either homemade or shop bought will suffice. If buying, use either liquid, gelatinous pods, powdered or cubed, the options are endless.
Use what is easiest and convenient for you, after all, it is about getting those serves of vegetables that is important.
- Either one or two main vegetables or an everything in.
If I am making a specific vegetable-based soup such as pumpkin, then I tend to limit the other vegetables I add. In this case just onion garlic and potato. Whereas when doing either a mixed vegetable soup or a chicken and vegetable soup I will add a range of vegetables. Often it is what is in the garden at the time or what I have in the crisper at the end of the week. With these all-in soups they can contain onion, garlic, leeks, carrot celery, potato, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, silver beet, peas, beans etc
Add herbs and spices to enhance the flavours
I do not mean adding lots of different herbs and spices to every soup. Instead, I find it best to add specific herbs and spices that will enhance the natural flavours of the vegetables. For example, thyme pairs beautifully with winter root vegetables, as does sage. Basil adds a fresh, liquorice-like taste to summery tomato-based soups, and in my Italian chicken and vegetable soup and minestrone I like to add a range of Italian herbs such as rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley and thyme.
Chop the Veggies into small Pieces.
Some of my soups I will puree to form a creamy soup but with others I like to take the time to cut my vegetables into smaller even sized pieces. I like the look of it and with every spoon full there are a variety of colours and textures that you can not get with larger pieces of vegetable.
Do not overcook them.
Once a upon a time, when fuel stoves were the norm in a kitchen, there was usually a pot of soup simmering away ready to eat. I however do not like to overcook my soups. With most vegetable-based soups everything is well and truly cooked within the hour, but it can be as quick as 20 mins.
Over cooking leads to mushy vegetables and then you might as well just puree the mix.
No dairy products added.
I do not add cream or other dairy products, if required in the recipe, if I am going to freeze the soup. I add it after heating a serving size portion. The freezing and re heating process will often split the dairy product and make the soup look unappetising.
Go easy on the salt.
If you are using commercially produces stock, either liquid, powders or cubes, this will give you plenty of salt. I however make my bone both without salt so do add a bit during cooking then taste before eating to see if it needs more.
I hope this inspires you to start making and eating delicious soups packed with vegetables. This will go a long way towards increasing your overall vegetable intake, increasing your general nutrient levels and being happy and healthy all round.
This is an extract from my soon to be released “Growing your own super food garden” E book. If you would like to be notified when it is available send me your email address and I will send you the link when it is ready.