With National Soup Day on February 4th, and with all of this cold weather we’re having, this is the perfect time to talk about soup. Have you had some recently? Maybe you had it more than once in the past month. And with so many varieties, it’s hard to get bored of it. Wonton, miso, matzo ball, pasta fagioli, minestrone, gumbo, chicken noodle, New England clam chowder, the list seems endless. If you haven’t had soup lately, here are two reasons to incorporate it into your meal planning rotation this month: one, soup can be a very nutritious meal, and two, you can get multiple meals out of it.
In a study from Iowa State University, they found that people who regularly eat soup have more fiber and vitamins in their diet and less fat than those who don’t eat soup—thanks to the various vegetables and beans found in most soups. The fiber, of course, also makes soup very filling. To reap the health benefits though, make sure the soup is based out of broth or tomato; soups that are heavy in cream or cheese can lead to excess fat and calorie intake.
And because it’s liquid based, it’s easy to bulk up with extra broth or water, letting it stretch into leftovers for another dinner or lunches (make sure to consume within 3-4 days or freeze) while also stretching your food budget. If you like the cost and convenience more of canned soup, make sure to choose a low-sodium option.
Not only is it healthy on a good day, but soup also provides benefits on days we’re not feeling well. A study published in Rhinology found that hot liquids ease a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, chills, and exhaustion, compared to room-temperature liquids which was only shown to help with a runny nose, cough, and sneezing. Additionally, the fluids and electrolytes in soup are important to staying hydrated. We easily dehydrate when we’re sick, due to losing fluids when sweating out a fever or even blowing our nose.
I have many soup recipes that I like to rotate throughout the colder months. One is a butternut squash soup recipe, derived from Cook Smarts. (And as a bonus: roast the seeds for a healthy protein-filled snack! Scoop out and rinse seeds, pat dry, and coat some olive oil and spices like garlic powder or cinnamon onto seeds in a bowl, then space out on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the seeds start to pop).
Butternut Squash Soup:
- 1 butternut squash, chopped
- 1 medium to large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 to 3 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 to 3 sage leaves
- 1 (14.5 oz) can white beans, drained
- 1 quart broth (veggie or chicken) or water
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- 3 cups kale or spinach, chopped (optional, added at end, not pureed)
- Wash hands.
- Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add the oil and garlic.
- Add the chopped onion, sage, and thyme leaves. Sauté for about 3 minutes, tossing with a heat-safe spatula or wooden spoon a few times.
- Add the butternut squash and drained beans, and pour enough broth /water to cover all the ingredients. Cover pot with its lid and bring to a boil. Once the soup boils, keep the lid on and lower heat to a simmer, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the stove and let the soup cool down, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
- Then place the immersion blender in the soup, tilt at about a 10 degree angle, and puree at a medium setting.
- Add kale or spinach as desired. Season to taste with nutmeg.