“Only the pure of heart can make good soup,” Beethoven is reputed to have said.
Not so fast. Beethoven knew his scales but he was wrong about soup. Soup-making is a simple skill and the purity of your heart has little to do with it. At least on the nourishment side of things.
Now that the colder months are upon us, there is nothing like homemade soup to keep us happy and healthy, and our pandemic-challenged immune systems purring along.
“Soup is a way to cash in on nature’s bounty of winter vegetables. Studies show that soup [and not just chicken noodle] can help prevent the common cold and the flu,” advises the Henry Ford Living Well Foundation.
“Produce in general is hydrating; and when you pair vegetables with broths and stocks that are a liquid, that contributes to your overall fluid intake,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Men, they suggest, should consume 15.5 cups of fluids per day and women should down 11.5 cups per day. Soup can definitely help you meet your quota– deliciously.
Here are three Super Immunity Soups (with variations) to fill you up through the chilly months ahead. These recipes utilize winter vegetables that bless us with the most immune-boosting nutrients (including virus-fighting Vitamins C and D and zinc).
The recipes below make 2-3 servings.
MISO TOFU SOUP
- Bring 4 cups of vegetable or mushroom broth to a simmer and stir in 3-4 tablespoons mild (white or yellow) miso. Mash with a fork until well combined.
- Stir in ½ cup chopped onion, leek, or scallions plus ½ cup chopped chard, or spinach
- Add ½ cup firm tofu, cubed
Optional: Top w/lightly-toasted torn nori seaweed or a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.
CHICKPEA- VEGETABLE- PESTO SOUP
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
½ frozen peas plus 1 cup canned chickpeas
¼ cup pesto
- Heat the oil, add the fresh vegetables, and cook 5-7 mins until soft. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
- Add broth, peas, and chickpeas.
- Simmer 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.
- Top each serving with pesto.
Optional: Stir in ¼ cup any favorite minced herb (parsley, dill, cilantro, thyme) 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with finely grated dairy or non-dairy cheese.
CREAMY CARROT BISQUE
16 oz vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 medium russet potato
4 medium carrots
1 small onion
1/2 cup dairy or non-dairy milk
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and white pepper to taste
- In a deep soup pot, combine broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, peel and cut potato, carrots, and onion into small pieces and add to the pot.
- Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
- Remove from heat. Using a handheld immersion blender or countertop blender, process soup until smooth. Stir in milk, ginger, and garlic powder, and adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Optional: Substitute sweet potato for white potato for increased fiber and vitamin A.
And what if you are an adamant non-cook who nevertheless loves his/her soup bowl on a chilly afternoon? Fear not. That paper box or can of store-bought soup can become significantly more immune-boosting with a few simple additions. But beware sodium. To bump up the flavor, commercial products tend to pack in much more salt than you might add to your own homemade soup. Salty soups can leave you puffy and bloated. And, over time, a diet too high in sodium may lead to hypertension. Check the label for no more than 500 mg sodium per serving.
- Stir in ½ tsp (or to taste) of sea vegetable flakes or powders, such as dulse, kelp, nori. Sea vegetables are a great source of iodine which is sorely lacking in most American diets. They can substitute for salt or pepper.
- Fold in a leftover cooked grain or legume such as brown rice or canned beans for added fiber
- Stir in a teaspoon of MCT oil. Coconut oil is good for almost everything that ails you.
- Swirl in a little plain or Greek yogurt after heating. Healthier than sour cream.
- Add a spoonful of crushed toasted seeds or nuts such as flaxseed, hemp seed, sunflower seeds, or walnuts
- Top with toasted whole-grain or gluten-free croutons
- Toss in chopped fresh parsley or cilantro and/or defrosted frozen vegetables such as peas, edamame, or spinach.