Let’s talk about soup. It’s winter time – soup is warm and delicious and can potentially be a packed powerhouse of nutrition.
Soup is fantastic. It’s a hot, satisfying dish in a bowl that we can make at home. You can make a lot, several servings, and use your freezer to store it so you can plan ahead and have a healthy, nutritious food option for the whole week.
Let’s talk about a metabolic aspect of soup and how to keep it nutritious and to keep macronutrients portioned well to create positive body composition. Here’s how we do that with soup.
Don’t order soup at the restaurant
Most soups you get when your order from a restaurant or a chain place will use ingredients to improve the consistency including starches. These soups won’t be as healthy as they appear. Some people want to try a cup of what looks like a healthy soup. A cup may not be a lot and you may want to try it, but for the most part, it’s better to make your soup at home.
Collagen and Broth
3 Major components of soup. The liquid part of the soup can be broth or stock. Broth is a liquid made from boiling meat and bones, veggies and spices. This liquid can be strained or not and can even be something we drink on it’s own. Broth is often created as the soup is cooking and the ingredients in the soup make up the goodness of the broth.
What’s the difference between broth and stock? Stock takes a long time to cook and is made apart from the rest of the soup. Stock is usually made by simmering bones in water for at least 6 hours. Stock can be made more quickly in the instant pot or other kind of pressure cooker which speeds up the time but still delivers the benefits of cooking the bones low and slow.
Stock becomes more thick and contains collagen from the bones. It will be more gelatinous as it cools. It’s used for thick gravies. As it cools it will solidify and that gelatin is good for you.
Collegin is different. They remove the gelatenous portion and dehydrate it into a powder. A lot of the scoops contain up to 20 grams of protein. You can add this powder to a soup and it doesn’t affect the taste and you can make a vegetable soup and know that you got your vegetables and your protein.
It has anti-inflammatory properties, it’s good for your gut, and these things aren’t even the main reason why many people seek out collagen as a supplement. They often use it to make their joints feel better and to make their skin better. It does all of those things.
Collagen is a nice product that works and is good for us – and I love good things in place of bad things.
The next component of your soup is the most important one, vegetables.
When I ask my patients what’s for dinner, my patients tell me chicken… steak… no. That’s not what I’m looking for. I want to know what vegetable you are having. I want to know that you are having broccoli or squash. The vegetables should be the bigger part of the fraction when it comes to the ingredients in your soup. A mirepoix is a combination of vegetables used in French cooking to create the base flavors of a soup. Chopped celery, carrot and onion brings nutrition and flavor to your soup. Root vegetables can be added too. Create your own flavors based on your personal tastes. The holy trinity is the Cajun and Louisiana Creole variation of mirepoix where green bell pepper replaces the carrot.
Remember to add the green leafy vegetables to your soup as well. The goal is to create volume in the soup and to make it a meal. Kale and spinach are good options. Spinach has a strong flavor so be careful about which soups you put it in. Kale takes a little longer to cook so consider blanching or steaming it first to make it tender before you add it in. Escarole is my favorite green to add to soup because it cooks up easy, it’s available and it’s a little on the sweet side.
Then next ingredient of your soup to add is Protein.
Roasted tempeh is a healthy form of soy that’s extremely available. This can be added to soup as protein. It melds well with veggies. Chicken and steak are obvious choices. Chop meat can be used and is great for giving soup a thickened quality. Stracciatella soup is one of my favorites with chicken and meatballs and then at the end we crack and egg and mix it in. When the soup is hot and you stir in the egg, you create like an egg drop kind of soup.
A nice way to finish a bowl of soup to make it even more delicious and satisfying is to top it with cheese. Vegan cheese is an option for those who are avoiding animal products.
Let’s make a chili! You are going to start off with stock. The trick to chili is to get that spice that makes your dish taste like chili. Many people are going to use either ground turkey or ground beef. But what else goes in? Traditionally, chili has a lot of beans which have a lot of carbs. You can replace beans in chili if you buy very big chunk tomato product. Add cut up green pepper as well. With the broth, tomato, green pepper, chili spice and meat, you are not missing out on anything. Chili is a soup-like meal that you can have and it’s really quick to make.
Remember when you are making these meals, don’t just cook one serving. Cook many so that you can have it for the rest of the week.
When it comes to soup, keep in mind the three main components that make up the dish – broth, vegetables and protein.