Soups On!...For Meatless Monday
by Donna Ames RN
Zing! Program Coordinator
Pen Bay Healthcare
When I hear the phrase “comfort food,” what immediately comes to my mind is a warm, flavorful, bowl of soup.
The history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. Combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested and simple-to make food was inevitable. Soup became the perfect choice for both sedentary and travelling cultures, rich and poor, healthy people and invalids. Soup (and stews, pottages, porridges, gruels, etc.) evolved according to local ingredients and tastes. New England chowder, Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht, Italian minestrone, French onion, Chinese wonton and Campbell’s tomato are all variations on the same theme.
The word “soup” comes from the French “soupe” which has Latin (suppa) and Germanic origins from the word “sop” which means "bread that is soaked in broth."
Soups are easily digested and have been prescribed for health purposes since ancient times. The word restaurant from the French word “ restoratifs” that means something restoring, was first used in France in the 16th century and referred to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup sold by street vendors. This soup was advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word “restaurant” for such shops.
Something called “pocket soup” was carried by colonial travelers, as it could easily be reconstituted by adding hot water. Canned and dehydrated soups became available in the 19th century. These supplied the military, covered wagon trains, cowboy chuck wagons and home pantries. The first American cooking pamphlet dedicated to soup was written in 1882 by Emma Ewing called “Soups and Soup Making.”
Here’s another great fact about soup: it can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that people who eat more soup, ingest less overall calories. Because soup contains less calories than most solid foods and takes a relatively long while to consume, you’re likely to eat less! Eating soup gives your brain time to register a feeling of fullness before you’ve overconsumed calories.
There are so many delicious soup recipes! When making homemade soup it is important to watch the sodium content of the broth that you use. I recommend finding a lower sodium broth and then using only half of the amount that is called for and use water for the rest of the liquid. Making homemade broth is probably the healthiest, but it can be time consuming. Canned soups are handy in a pinch, but the sodium content of most canned soups is way too high.
The following 2 recipes are adapted this great vegetarian recipe website: www.highinfatuation.com.
So now that the days are shorter, and the temps are falling, have fun creating and enjoying these tasty, low-fat, health promoting soups.
Remember, go meatless on Mondays! It’s good for you and the planet!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (6-8 servings)
1 butternut squash, medium size
1 yam/sweet potato
1 onion, medium size
4 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
6 cups vegetable broth (decrease whatever type of broth you use by half. If you use canned or boxed broth, use 3 cups of the broth liquid to 3 cups water)
1 cup skim milk, 1% milk or plain soy milk, (if you prefer dairy free)
Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Poke holes in the yam with a fork. Place them both on a pan and roast them in the oven until they are soft when you stick a fork in them (about one hour). You may also wish to take advantage of the hot oven to make some biscuits or cornbread. Cut the squash in slabs and pull the skins off. This step can be done ahead of time. Keep the cooked squash and sweet potato in the fridge for a day or so before making the rest of the soup.
- Coarsely chop the onion, garlic and carrot. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot and sauté the veggies until soft.
- Add the 6 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Add the squash and yam. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.
- Blend well with a stick blender or alternately, with a countertop blender. Blend the soup in small batches, then return it to the pot.
- Add the milk. Heat on low, do not boil. Add more milk or water to adjust soup to your desired consistency. Add salt and fresh pepper to taste.
- Add a sprinkle of toasted pumpkins seeds to each bowl and serve.
Potato Leek Soup
6 tennis ball sized white potatoes (or any equivalent in size and color), washed but not peeled, and diced.
2 large leeks, include the white and most of the green parts
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp rosemary
4 cups vegetable broth (I use a condensed, reduced sodium version that comes in a jar and only use 1 tsp per 2 cups of water. Whatever type of broth you use, if you half the broth-to-water ratio, you’ll still get the flavor with half the sodium. Typically, all broths contain way too much sodium.
2 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup skim, 1% milk or plain soy milk (if you prefer dairy free)
- Rinse the leeks and slice them thinly.
- Dice the potatoes.
- Heat the oil in a large stockpot and sauté the leeks for a few minutes.
- Add the onion and garlic. Sauté, stirring for several minutes on medium-high heat.
- Add the potatoes and sauté a few more minutes, taking care that the potatoes don’t stick.
- Add the broth, water and herbs.
- Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes.
- Blend the soup with a stick blender, if you have one (I highly recommend adding one to your kitchen tools if you don’t. I have a Braun, which I love). A countertop blender can be used as well, just add the soup in batches, then return to the stockpot. Obviously, this creates more of a clean up job.
- Stir in the milk. You can adjust the thickness by adding more or less milk at this point. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat on low heat, do not boil.
Enjoy with a hearty salad (perhaps with beans or boiled eggs for added protein) and a crusty whole grain bread! Find more great recipes to try on Meatless Monday or any day at www.meatlessmonday.com!
Donna Ames, RN, coordinates Zing! — a program of Pen Bay Healthcare and its community partners designed to encourage children to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits. Online: pbmc.org/zing.