January is National Soup Month, time to fill the tummy with something warm and yummy.
During the winter months, just the thought of curling up by a blazing fire with a bowl of homemade soup and a hunk of crusty bread, brings warmth and comfort to mind.
Soups invite you to be innovative and experimental, stirring-up something nutritious and fabulous with items you’ve purchase and from what you’ve already have on your shelves at home.
When following a recipe, you can substitute, increase, decrease, exclude, and include ingredients to your heart’s content without fear of disaster. And soup can be hearty, healthy, and filling without being fattening. For example: when preparing your soup, if the recipe calls for chicken or beef broth, you can choose a low sodium broth base. If the recipe lists milk, you can use low fat or skim milk. There are plenty of ways to pack in the flavor while you unpack the fat. Try adding different spices; curry, oregano, thyme, bay leaves to name a few. A hearty soup made with veggies*, meat, poultry, fish, beans, pasta and dairy can be a stick-to-your-ribs meal with mouth watering flavors and nutrients from every food group.
So whether it’s the starter to a fabulous meal or you chose to make it the main course by adding a tossed green salad, crackers, bread sticks, a loaf of crusty bread and a dessert, soup can be part of a well balanced meal.
If you’re itching to move above and beyond canned soup, and you want to add some extra flavor to your family’s meals give these recipes a try:
Black Bean Soup
4 cans (15oz) black beans
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp chipotle chile powder
2 celery stocks, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
6 cups chicken broth
cilantro for garnish
In a stock pot or large sauce pot over med-high heat place oil; when heated add celery, onion and garlic. Cook until translucent about 4 minutes.
Add spices, cumin, chipotle 1 min
Add beans- 2 cans with juice 2 strained, and 3 cup broth, bring to simmer.
In batches, place in blender, blend for about 45 seconds. Return to pan add remaining broth and bring to simmer.
Place in bowls and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup – featured in Janet Jackson’s NY Times #1 best seller list, True You. get this book >
4 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp. tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. dried cilantro
Salt and ground black pepper
Cilantro leaves to garnish
In a large saucepan, cook peppers and onion gently in the oil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the garlic, dried cilantro and tomato paste. Add in half the stock, then bring to a boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. Return to the pan, then add the rest of the stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring the soup back to a boil, and then serve at once with cilantro leaves placed on top of each serving.
Thai Coconut Curry Soup
½ (15oz. can) of cream of coconut
2 cups chicken broth
1/8 tsp curry powder
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup light cream
lemon grass for garnish
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan, mix well. Heat until soup comes to a boil, stirring frequently.
Lower heat and let simmer about 5 minutes. Serve immediately or if you prefer, chill soup and serve cold.
Places chopped lemon grass on top for garnish.
Makes about 4 servings
* To help your vegetables reach their full flavor potential, you should sauté or roast them before you add them to your soup pot. This process caramelizes the naturally occurring sugars in the vegetables, giving them a much richer, deeper flavor. To caramelize your vegetables; chop them into the size you desire for your soup. Then in a sauteepan, over a medium-high heat, place the vegetables in a single layer (this is important-your vegetables will steam instead of caramelize if they’re stacked on top of each other), pour in a small amount of olive oil or butter, and add your vegetables. Stir or toss them often enough to keep them from burning, but be patient. really good browning can take some time.