Even for us warm-blooded creatures, winter invites a certain hibernation. ‘Tis the season to stay in and snuggle up, to slow down, put your feet up by a crackling fire, sip hot (green!) tea and surrender to a good book. There’s good reason that January is National Soup Month – there’s nothing better than a hearty bowl of warm deliciousness to take the chill off while maintaining your blissful “chill” mode. And we’re not talking a can of Campbell’s. Homemade soup is both easy and much healthier.
Oh soup, why do we love thee so? Here are a few reasons:
- Reminds us of being a kid, fishing for alphabet letters with our spoon
- You can slurp and get away with it
- One pot = less kitchen clean up
- Smells heavenly and warms our hands
- And…it’s easy and economical to prepare!
To that last (but not least) bullet point, here are our top 5 tips for getting the biggest bang out of your bowl during these winter days.
- Love your leftovers: Soup is the perfect foil for using up leftover chicken, beef, veggies, pasta
or rice. Nationally, more than 40% of food grown and processed goes to waste. Go easy on your wallet and the environment by adding last night’s veggies to a stew, chicken to a gumbo or pasta/rice to most any soup. Keep broth on hand as a pantry staple to use as a starter.
- Think beans and greens: Take a can or two of white beans, add some kale or spinach, and you’ve got the makings for a healthy, satisfying supper (hint: sautéed onions, carrots and garlic always help!).
- Blend, baby, blend: Let your blender, food processor or Vitamix be your best friend. A bag of frozen butternut squash and some apples, or a bundle of carrots and hint of ginger can easily become a smooth and yummy bisque. Add leftover rice or potatoes to add body – when mixed, no one will know!
- Slow down: Here’s the thing about soup — it’s better the longer it cooks. Pull out the slow cooker or let chili simmer all day (gives you an excuse to finish that murder mystery). And take a hint to slow down yourself. It’ll do you good.
- Cheat: Yep, we admit it — occasionally we cut corners. There’s no rule against buying an off-the-shelf soup (look for low sodium) to use as a starter. Dress up a basic black bean soup with corn, carrots and other veggies, a splash of wine, or buy a ready-made tomato soup and add pasta, protein, veggies, what-have-you. Get creative!