I don’t know about you but, I am loving the fall weather and one of my favorite things to do as the weather get cooler is to make soup, specifically vegetable soup. I mean, it ticks two boxes for me. First, it warms me up when I’m cold and, best of all, it helps me to ensure that I get plenty of vegetables in my diet. So, win-win. Next to salads, soups are bar none the easiest way to get your veggies.
Veggie and bean soups and stews are chock full of nutrients, delicious, and so easy to prepare. And they are so versatile because they can be served as a complement to a meal or as the main dish. Life, for most us is quite busy, so I think it’s great that soups can easily be cooked in bulk to provide several days’ worth of leftovers. You can make your soups from a variety of fresh, frozen or, my favorite, leftover ingredients. It’s typically my “empty the fridge” exercise at the end of the week. And I have come up with some fantastic combinations that way. One time I made a black bean and rice chipotle-lime soup. Yum!
Since soups are cooked slowly and in a liquid base, the nutrients are retained and even better, some are made more absorbable. And since nutrients like B vitamins and some minerals are water soluble, water-based cooking, like boiling, can cause water-soluble nutrients to be leached into the cooking water and discarded. But with soups, you consume the liquid and therefore the water-soluble nutrients. I love that!
When you cook soup, the vegetables and beans are moisturized and softened, which exponentially increases the digestibility and absorption of the nutrients contained within them. And studies have shown that the body absorbs more of the powerful anti-cancer compounds and carotenoids, especially lutein and lycopene, from cooked vegetables than from raw vegetables. Love it! Did you know that cooking vegetables in soups breaks down the cellulose within them and make them even more digestible? Fantastic!
I did say that they are easy to make and thank heaven, because I love that I can be lazy and dump everything into my slow cooker. The ingredients I like to concentrate on are greens, beans, onions, and mushrooms, which are some of the most powerfully nutritious foods you can eat.
To make your easy-peasy soup you want to start with a base of water with fresh vegetable juice, like carrot, celery, tomato or, use no-salt or low salt vegetable broth with less than 200 mg of sodium per cup. Then, this is where you dump in the rest of your ingredients. Be creative, there is no wrong combination! But, if creating soups is not your thing, check out Eat to Live: The Cookbook by Dr. Joel Fuhrman for some inspiration for great soups. To your good health!