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Forget soup diets. Enjoy delicious, hearty and healthy soups

Updated on September 5, 2013

We may have started off our childhoods enjoying grandma’s butternut soup, mouthwatering goulash or even a lamb, vegetable and barley soup. Fast forward a few years and somehow that positive relationship with soup seems to fade away. With all the inherent nutrients and good, wholesome and fresh ingredients that go into soup, do we really need to hold onto this boogeyman attitude toward soup? With the current age being one of awakening, information and enlightenment how about we flip the script on this so-called step sister of dishes and look for its positives instead?


But it is time to reintroduce you to an old friend, call it a soup renaissance of sorts. Soup usually gets a bad rap for ‘icky’, ‘flavorless’ and like ‘hospital food’ but if used correctly, made with the right ingredients and techniques you can achieve a meal that deserves pride of place on any kitchen table.

To be quite honest, when we think soup, we think of boring ‘soup diets’. The media has inundated us with the famed ‘cabbage soup’ diet, ‘fat flush’ soup and the ‘7 day’ soup diet. So now instead of looking at soups as hearty and healthy we laugh about the effects of fad soup diets with our friends.

Eating soup does not have to be a dire affair
Eating soup does not have to be a dire affair | Source

Know your soup! The basics of soup making

Before we get all wrapped up in how to make great soups, we need to first understand the building blocks of what constitutes a great soup. With all the terminology out there it is easy to be confused by the different constituents. Let’s first get a little soup 101, so you know exactly what you’re up against before you get started. The following are a few soup types that usually form the basis of bigger greater dishes.

Bisque- The basis of this soup is thick, creamy and usually thickened with the boiled and pulverized remnants of seafood, crayfish and other crustaceans.

Chowder-Is a chunky kind of soup that can be made with vegetables or seafood that is usually enriched with cream and served with crumbled biscuits and graham crackers on the side.

Stock- This is a flavored water preparation that usually forms the basis for any soup or sauce. This can be made at home with a combination of whole spices, off cuts and bones of meat, poultry or fish by boiling reducing and straining. Alternatively this can also be bought from grocery shops in conveniently packaged dissolvable cubes.

Bouillon-At a very basic level this is simply a broth that has some shrimp, veal and vegetables and bundle of aromatic herbs added to it.

Consomme- This is a rich flavorsome clarified type of broth that uses the presence of egg whites in it to skim off excess fats and residues left behind in it from any meat or chicken contained within it.

SOUP MAKING BONUS TIP AND SOUP RULE OF THUMB!

Improvise, improvise, improvise! With so many different types of foods out there that follow recipes distinctly, it is great to know that soup is one of those more ‘forgiving’ types. Making soup often calls for a bit of mad creativity and it often doesn't hurt to throw in a pinch of this, a dab of that and a little swirl of a mystery ingredient to keep your guests guessing. Work your magic!

Why soup is a fantastic food-

The benefits of soup

The benefits of soup are great. Think about it, soup is the perfect vehicle with which to get your nutrients down the hatch. The combination of vegetables, meat and wholesome fresh ingredients all come together to create a beautiful wholesome broth. At the most basic entry level type of chicken soup, we find that it contains nutrients that multi task in making you feel better when going through the common cold or flu.

Still not convinced? Have a look at this quick fact file on how even just the humble chicken soup is good for your wellbeing. The vapors and ingredients of the chicken soup have been scientifically proven to assist you in the following ways.


Did you know...

  • Chicken soup vapors have been known to relieve congestion of nasal passages, if eaten whilst unwell with the flu.
  • The flavorsome liquid of the soup combined with the sharp flavors and spices of garlic, ginger, herbs and whole spices in chicken soup all inhibit the inflammation of tissues.
  • A compound found in chicken soup called carnosine helps the body’s immune system fight the early stages of flu.

Aside from the incredible benefits of soup, we have decided to take a look at the wide range of soups out there narrowed down a selection of what we think are five mouthwateringly delicious soups that you simply have to try. Do enjoy!

Spring Chicken and Vegetable soup

When it comes to the soup ‘hall of fame’ this one holds pride of place! Chicken soup is the grand daddy of all soups and one of the most common ones eaten around the world. So what is the hype behind this deceptively simple looking broth, I hear you ask? Well many studies done have shown that this is the go-to soup for its cocktail of nutrients especially if you have a cold or a flu. The combination of the amino acids in the chicken, the beta carotene of the carrots and the vitamin and mineral rich broth that is created when the hot water infuses with all of the ingredients is in itself a powerful brew.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6-8 cups chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
  • A pinch saffron threads
  • 1 bunch spring onions or 2-3 leeks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • A pinch Salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon, Juice and 1 Tablespoon of zest
  • 1 bundle thin asparagus,, trimmed and thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 cup fresh shelled peas
  • 1/2 poached or rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, chicken diced or shredded (use remaining chicken another night for dinner!)
  • Thin egg noodles or fideo
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

METHOD-

  1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Heat another soup pot with the stock and saffron threads to steep.
  2. To the first soup pot add the onions, carrots and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook to tender, then add the lemon zest and stir. Add the steeped saffron stock and bring to a simmer. Add the asparagus, peas, chicken and noodles*; cook for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and herbs and serve
  3. *If making soup in advance, omit the noodles and cook separately. Reheat the soup when wanted! This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, visit www.yum-o.org.

Butternut soup

Comfort food, homey, delicious, seductive! Nothing takes you on an emotional journey faster than this warm mellow, yellow soup. Laced with hints of cinnamon, whispers of garlic, and freshly ground pepper, butternut soup is the ultimate comfort food. Being a yellow vegetable, it is packed full of vitamins A and B which are great for relieving stress and anxiety, good vision, providing a healthy immune system and cell growth. If you’re looking for a soup that’s worth its weight as comfort food, you have found it.

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 16 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
  • ½ - 1 fresh red chilli, to taste, deseeded and finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 kg butternut squash, onion squash or musque de Provence, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 2 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • For the croutons
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 slices ciabatta bread
  • 1 block Parmesan cheese, for grating

METHOD-

1. Put a very large saucepan on a medium heat and pour in a couple of lugs of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with kitchen paper – you'll use these for sprinkling over at the end. In the pan you'll be left with a beautifully flavored oil, so put it back on the heat and throw in your onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around half an hour.

2. While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, pat it in and press some grated Parmesan on to each side. Place in a non-stick pan without any oil and fry until golden on both sides.

3. When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with a hand blender or pour it into a liquidizer and pulse until you have a smooth purée (but you can leave it slightly chunky if you like). Most importantly, remember to taste and season it until it's perfect. Divide the soup between your bowls, placing 2 croutons on top of each. Sprinkle with a few of your crispy sage leaves and drizzle with a swirl of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.

Gazpacho soup

This chilled soup has its origins in Spain and goes down a treat on the hotter days. Dish up this one in summer or spring when you need a light refreshing pick me up. Traditionally served at the end of the meal, this soup can still stand tall if you decide to serve it up at the beginning of a meal as well. The simplicity of it all will leave you plenty of time to spare to entertain your guests without being rushed off your feet. This soup is largely tomato based but if you wish you can add a modern spin on the ingredients by adding avocado, watermelon and even strawberries to pick it up and highlight its piquant flavors.

INGREDIENTS

1 slice country-style bread, about 1" thick, crusts removed
2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 lbs. very ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

OPTIONAL GARNISHES
½ green pepper, seeded and finely diced
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 cup ½" croutons
½ small white onion, peeled and finely diced
1 small tomato, seeded and finely diced


METHOD

1. Soak bread for ½ hour in a small bowl in water to cover. Squeeze out moisture with your hands.

2. Purée bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and 1 cup water in a food processor until very smooth.

3. Push purée through a coarse sieve with the back of a wooden spoon. Gazpacho should be fairly thin.Season to taste with salt.

4. Chill gazpacho in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Adjust seasoning. Serve in individual glasses, or in soup bowls with garnishes on the side.

Vichyssoise

The name of this soup isn’t the only thing that is a mouthful. This creamy, substantial soup explodes with flavor from the moment that it hits your taste buds. There are mellow, silky notes of potato and leek, combined with the freshness of cream that leave you feeling light and refreshed. It is crucial to serve this soup just below room temperature so that the flavor of the soup reaches its full potential. Too cold and its flavor will not be tasted. Indulge in this as the perfect go-to soup for a pick me up in on a hot summers day.

INGREDIENTS

4 Cups of sliced leeks the white part and only a little of the light green part.
1/2 Of one white or brown onion finely diced.
4 Cups of diced potatoes. I used red potatoes but you can use Yukon golds or even baking potatoes if you wish.
6 to 7 Cups of chicken stock. The same amount of water if you want to make this in the vegetarian alternative recipe.
1 to 2 Tsp of salt or to taste. In the video I add salt and pepper in stages as I build layers of flavor.
1/2 Cup or more of heavy cream, half and half, sour cream or creme fraiche as option to build creamy texture of soup.
1 or 2 Tablespoons of sour cream for garnish.
1 or more Tablespoons of chopped chives or combination of chive spears and chopped chives for garnish.
1/4 to 1/2 Stick of butter.
1 Large saucepan at least 4 quarts or small to medium stockpot with a heavy bottom.
1 Large saute pan. A 12 inch saute pan will do best.
1 Immersion blender or a regular blender.

METHOD

1. In a large saute pan melt your butter and saute your leeks and onions until soft and translucent. Add a touch of salt and black or white pepper to build flavor layer. Don’t burn the butter and don’t let the leeks and onion caramelize.

2. Once the leeks and the onions have softened and gotten translucent put them in a large saucepan or medium/large stock/saucepot.

3. Now add your diced potatoes to the leeks and onions in the stockpot. Add just enough Chicken stock to cover the potatoes and leeks. Bring to the boil for one or two minutes and then reduce to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt and black or white pepper for the flavor layer. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

4. Now if you have aimmersion blender you can use it to puree the potatoes and leeks into your soup. If not like I did in the video I used a potato masher to “pre-puree” the potatoes and leeks so that I can use a regular blender to do the final puree of the potato soup recipe. I was able to puree all the potato soup in my pot using my blender twice. With each blender full when done pour potato soup into another pot or big bowl to be ready to be chilled before serving.

5. Once you have pureed the potato soup recipe make sure to taste it and make any corrections you want in your salt and pepper that you want to make. Allow the potato soup recipe to cool on your counter for about 30 minutes before putting the mixture in the fridge to chill.

6. Place your serving bowls in the fridge to get really cold.
7. Cut yourself some chive spears and then finely chop the rest of the chives that you wish to use as garnish.
8. Just before serving the Vichyssoise potato soup you can pour in your heavy cream, half and half, creme fraiche or sour cream to give the Vichyssoise that final creamy layer of flavor and texture and mix it in well. The Vichyssoise will take on a nice white creamy color as well.

9. When you finally put the Vichyssoise potato soup into your bowls garnish with a dollop or two of sour cream, creme fraiche, or heavy cream in the center of the bowl and then add some chive spears and chopped chives and serve!
Read more: http://www.richardblainesezcooking.com/vichyssoise-potato-soup-served-cold-the-summer-soup-of-france#ixzz2a49sw1Zy

Miso Soup

Mention Miso soup, and chances are that your soup credentials among other diners in a room, shoot up substantially. When it comes to soups that pack a nutritional punch, you really can’t go wrong with Miso soup. This traditional Japanese soup is one that certainly delivers. Don’t be fooled by its deceptively watery and thin appearance. This soup is rich, textured and filled with flavor, while being soft and subtle on the taste buds, flavorsome and nutrient rich.

Seaweed, soy bean curd, carrots, and spring onions all form part of this healthful amalgamation. The fermentation of the paste is known for assisting with the stimulation of gastric juices and strengthening the quality of your blood and lymph.

INGREDIENTS

  • 20g/¾oz instant dashi (Japanese stock) or 3 tsp good quality vegetable bouillon powder
  • 800ml/1½ pints boiling water
  • 4 asparagus spears or spring onions
  • 2 tbsp white or red miso paste
  • 1 tbspmirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 200g/7oz silken tofu, cubed

METHOD

  1. Put the dashi or bouillon powder with the boiling water in a saucepan, and stir well.
  2. Finely slice the asparagus on the diagonal and add to the pan. Simmer for three minutes.
  3. Place the miso paste in a small bowl and add a ladleful of the hot broth, whisking with a small whisk to get rid of any lumps. When smooth, slowly pour the mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly.
  4. Add the mirin, soy sauce and silken bean curd. Heat through gently, without boiling.
  5. Serve in small lacquered soup bowls.

Until now, soup may have been a long forgotten item on your menu. But with so little ingredients and preparation time required, there really is no reason as to why it doesn’t deserve a prime spot on your menu at least once or twice a week. From the warm and hearty, cold and refreshing to the new and edgy ones out there, let’s hope that you feel inspired and motivated to cook these and other delicious, hydrating and healthful soup creations out there.

Many would say that soup is earnest, unassuming and true soul food, and with that thought I leave you with these few amazing quotes that honor and celebrate food and soup.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
Julia Child

"Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite."
Auguste Escoffier

HAPPY COOKING!


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    • profile image

      Richard Jones 4 years ago

      Great article and it has giving me a craving for soup.

    • Schoolmom24 profile image

      Schoolmom24 4 years ago from Oregon

      I just made soup this evening! Very nice, informative hub and the recipes look delicious!

      I just joined this site yesterday and wrote my first hub- on the benefits of juicing, so somewhat related. Feel free to stop by!

    • Jetstream profile image
      Author

      The Jetstream 4 years ago from South Africa

      We are really glad to have a fellow Soup lover, and would love for you to recommend a few of your own soup recipes that you enjoy.

    • profile image

      ElleBee 4 years ago

      When "We think of soup we think of boring soup diets," could not be farther from the truth for me! I love a good bowl of soup on a cold day, looking forward to trying some of these recipes this fall/winter.

    • Jetstream profile image
      Author

      The Jetstream 4 years ago from South Africa

      do you have a recipe we could try out?

    • Jetstream profile image
      Author

      The Jetstream 4 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you for the comments and please do keep the soup recipes coming in; we would love to try them out.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I love soup too. I could have soup everyday (but it's too hot here ). lol

      My favorite is asopao (a thick chicken and rice soup). I also love smoked ham and noodles soup. Both Puerto Rican dishes.

      Nice hub!

    • Jetstream profile image
      Author

      The Jetstream 4 years ago from South Africa

      Keep up the great soup. If you have any recipes for your favorite soups, we would love to try them out. Post them up as a comment for others to experience.

    • raeyecarlos profile image

      raeyecarlos 4 years ago

      I love soup. It's nutritious and always makes me feel good. Here at home, some of my favorite meals are nilagang baka (boiled beef with potatoes, cabbage, and string beans) and sinigang na bangus (milkfish in tamarind broth with radish, green chillies, and kangkong leaves).