Savoring the Season for Soup – Soupology 101

Optimum Wellness Presented by King Soopers Sponsored by Imagine Soups & Broths

Author- Dr. James Rouse

There’s little that says fall and winter like a big pot of yummy soup or stew. Though every season may be deemed ‘soup worthy,’ when temperatures drop and cold starts creeping in, soup just makes everything better. The warmth and aromatic qualities of a hearty soup can soothe the soul on a gloomy day. And perhaps the best part is that soup is super easy – or at least it can be. It all starts with a good base, whether that is a stock or broth.

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By all means, if you have the time and desire to make homemade stock or broth from scratch, go for it. The difference between the two is that generally stock is made from simmering bones (commonly chicken, turkey or beef), whereas broth is made more from the meat (unless it’s vegetable broth of course). Most good stock or broth also contain what we’d call “the basics” - onion, garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaf, a little salt and pepper.

If you’ve got at minimum those ingredients, you may be well on your way to creating a liquid masterpiece. If, however, you are like most home chefs, a ready-made broth is a must have, year-round staple. With a few quarts on hand at all times, spontaneous soup making becomes that much easier. Side note – ready-made broths are available in a tremendous array of “flavors” and “types” now – from chicken and turkey broth to beef and vegetarian broth, bone broth, low sodium broth, organic, Kosher …. the choices are impressive.

Besides soup making, another reason to keep a quart or two of broth on hand is that it can be used as the cooking liquid for grains like rice, risotto, and barley, and also for legumes and beans. Broth can enliven sauces and gravies, stir-fries, and can be used as a base for casseroles. This may be stating the obvious since of course there are endless uses for stock or broth.

Beyond ready-made broth and stock is actual ready-made soup. Canned soup became available at the end of the 19th century. The process has come a long way since then. Aseptic packaging (cartons) has increased the nutrient value of soups and allows for easy shelf-storage. Whether creamy or chunky, dairy-free, gluten-free or vegan, organic, non-GMO or low-sodium, we’re covered when it comes to finding a soup or stew that fits our taste and lifestyle.

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For us, we just feel better having soup available in the pantry for those days when either no one feels like cooking or weather has us snowed in or just not wanting to leave the house in general. It’s like being prepared for the unexpected. And we know that even if the power goes out, we can always heat some soup up on the outdoor grill or camper stove. And speaking of camping, those aseptic soup cartons travel really well and are much lighter than their canned counterparts for packing in and out.

Now to speak briefly on the benefits of enjoying soup – it mostly depends on the type of soup – for example, broth-based soups are going to be generally more beneficial to our health compared to heavy cream-based soups. Chicken soup has long been regarded as a home remedy for the common cold or upper respiratory infection. Research shows a mild anti-inflammatory and medicinal quality in chicken soup, especially when the soup includes vegetables. Preliminary research supports a relationship between frequent soup consumption and weight management. Bean-, legume-, and vegetable-based soups add fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to the diet, which supports cardiovascular health. Soup is filling, so we tend to take in fewer calories throughout the day when soup is part of our diet (again, basing this assumption on broth-based, rather than dairy-based soups).

Finally, soup is affordable. Making soup or buying soup generally does not cost a lot of money. Consuming soup is not just good for your health; it’s good for your budget. A little can go a long way. Savor the season for soup!