It’s that time of year again when the days get shorter and sitting by a warm fire replaces evenings on the back porch. Soup can be a perfect meal or snack this time of year as we seek to stay warm and avoid the outside grill. However, before you reach for canned soups which are high in sodium and full of processed ingredients, let me walk you through how easy it can be to make your own homemade soups without spending a lot of money or time in the kitchen.
First you will need a good stock for any clean eating soup. I prefer Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken, vegetable or beef stock. It’s not only delicious but allows you to have your soup without all the sodium found in even the lowest sodium soups that make you feel like a blow fish after you eat them! This can be found at Publix on the top shelf and is in a carton not a can.
Second, always keep some Pomi chopped and Pomi crushed tomatoes handy for recipes. These tomatoes are also found in a carton and are low in sodium and just plain tomatoes without any citric acid or sugars. Compare some cans of stewed and regular tomatoes to a box of Pomi tomatoes and you will be shocked at what you find in a can of tomatoes – high fructose corn syrup among other nastiness!
I prefer to start most of my soups and chili’s with sweet onion and garlic. I always make sure to keep plenty in the house. If I’m making a vegetable soup or even a chili with a bunch of vegetables I want to saute the crunchier vegetables like onion, celery, peppers and carrots first with crushed garlic. The secret here is to only use 1 tsp of coconut or olive oil. I prefer virgin, organic coconut oil over any processed oil even olive but the key here is only a teaspoon. If you use too much oil the vegetables become slimy and they lose their natural flavors. If you use the coconut oil you will quickly find that you don’t have issues at a higher heat that you would have with olive oil because coconut oil can tolerate the highest levels of heat without smoking. If you find that the vegetables begin to stick to the pan simply add a little bit of your Kitchen Basics broth to finish the sauteing process.
At this point you have a great base of sauteed vegetables that you can use in any type of soup or chili. If using poultry or beef, now would be the time to add it and saute it until browned. No additional oil is necessary even for the leanest ground turkey.
Next add the rest of your vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, green beans, squash, tomatoes and beans. It will depend on what you are making what you decide to add. If I’m making a chili I will add a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes and beans at this time but if I’m making a vegetable soup I might add whatever greens I have in the refrigerator (including lettuce) and the tomatoes. If you are making chili but plan to use a crushed tomato you may want to add them after the spices but either way will work just fine.
Now is the time to add your seasonings. Add plenty of seasoning and use as many fresh herbs and spices as you have available. Cook for 1-2 minutes so the spices stick to the meat and vegetables and really allow the flavors to blend.
If you are making a chili and have not added tomatoes you can add them now and simmer for 15-20 minutes to blend the flavors. If you are making a soup now is the time to add your Kitchen Stock broth – enough to cover your ingredients. If you want your soup thicker then you will use less broth then if you want it thinner. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender as desired.
The soup pictured above was created from whatever vegetables I had in my refrigerator at the time. I sauteed some hot peppers, sweet onion, carrots and garlic then added chopped iceberg lettuce, chopped beet greens and a can of white navy beans. The soup took me no time at all to prepare and was delicious! I also made a large enough pot to freeze half of it for a later time.
The cold weather is right around the corner so start cooking up some soups and chili’s to keep your family warm this winter.
Are you looking to change your diet? Mary works with clients all over the country developing personalized nutrition and exercise plans for weight loss and health. If you're ready to get started on your journey to health and wellness contact her today!
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