Hot or cold, soups are fantastic. Beware supermarket soups; read the labels carefully. It’s easy enough to make soup at home that buying manufactured, dead soup shouldn’t be necessary. Some store-bought soup is okay; lentil and bean soups combine good nutrition with convenience, but long-dead vegetables in preservatives have dubious nutritional value. Homemade soup can be wonderfully tasty, satisfying, and infinitely variable; it can be extended, re-heated or frozen. Caloric density can be controlled. Soups are a great way to offer maximum nutrition with minimum calories. Think of them as a tasty low-calorie delivery system for micronutrients!
Hot soup usually consists of a broth of some sort plus other elements. The broth can consist of water and stock of any sort, usually savory. Stocks can be:
Chicken, beef, fish, pork, lamb, turkey, duck etc stock…reduced by simmering leftover bones and vegetables in various combinations
Bouillon cubes or powder
Soybean paste (miso paste)
Store-bought sauces of infinite kinds such as black bean sauce, or Adobo paste (we like Vietnamese fish paste)—read the ingredients!
Sautéed right in the pan; think caramelized onion, celery, mushroom. garlic, shallots, etc with spices and seeds with a little oil, butter or fat, then add water. Our favorite is a little bacon and onion…it makes a great soup base; we might add a little miso or fish paste to it.
Add any number of different things to the broth. Pouring hot broth over cold raw vegetables is a great winter substitute for a salad! Experiment.
Heat up frozen raw peeled shrimp in the broth and serve just as they turn pink and curl. Add leftover meat scraps. Cook meat into the broth. For extra protein, break an egg into the broth and poach it before pouring it over the vegetables. Improvise! A sliced hard-boiled egg is a nice addition. A little tahini or peanut butter adds “heartiness” (and calories).
Pour the broth over raw cut-up greens such as chard, collards, beet or kale for a fantastic micronutrient blast. Raw cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi have fantastic nutrient benefits as well, and are made very palatable in this presentation.
Add flavor with seeds and spices. You’ll find that almost anything from the vegetable world goes with almost anything else, and the combinations are endless and delightful. Tomatoes with caraway. Beets with cumin and dill. Avocado with curry and celery seed. Endless! Black sesame is a favorite garnish in our kitchen.
Other options for adding vegetables include using a food processor to puree, chop or julienne them. Another option is a “spiralizer.”
With vegetables, the less heat and cooking the better for most kinds. Exceptions are squashes, rhubarb and nightshades such as eggplant, and tubers such as yams and sweet potatoes—these should be cooked. For greens and cruciferous vegetables, raw is better.
Eating soups like this reduces cravings, is very satisfying, will reduce inflammation, and will lead to optimum body composition (read: reduce body fat!). Given the variety of ingredients possible, it’s not really necessary to eat anything else! One could live on these soups, and end up very healthy and slim with no cravings or binge eating. Remember to watch caloric density; keep dense foods, including legumes, fats, proteins, and grains, to very limited quantities. Raw cruciferous vegetables are very filling—if you can find a palatable way to consume them. This is it! The “holy grail” for the healthy eater —optimum nutrition, optimum taste, controlled caloric density, high water content.