It’s been cold and rainy the past couple days which means I can officially swap my salads with soups. Unfortunately, many soups can be diet-busters thanks to featuring pasta, meat or cream as the key ingredients. Those choices can be expensive, not too healthy and a calorie budget buster. Canned varieties often rely on salt for “flavor” which can quickly skyrocket one’s sodium intake.
The first time I made my friend’s butternut squash soup recipe, I misread the directions and pureed it, changing a yummy chunky soup into a yummier, creamy puree that really seemed to pull all the flavors together–especially when eaten a few days later. Now, the main “ingredient” in my soups is my stick blender. And, of course, a load of veggies.
One of the simplest and tasty ways to sneak in veggies is through soups. Several years ago, I bought a stick blender that allows me to puree these soups to give them a rich and creamy consistency that tastes more decadent than the calories suggest. It’s also an unfussy, mostly hands-off method of cooking that can be done while you’re making something else. For example, I chopped up the cauliflower, parsley and onion for the following recipe while I was making Saturday night’s cauliflower with mushrooms and bacon. I cooked it while I made another meal. The other reason why this is simple is because you don’t really need a recipe. I know… some of you fear trying new things without a specific recipe in hand, but trust me on this. All you need is:
- fresh veggies that you love
- some beans for extra fiber, bulk, creaminess and protein
- a fresh herb or some spices
- salt and pepper
- some kind of stock (chicken, veggie… whatever floats your boat–I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s organic, free range chicken broth which comes in 32oz cartons and is low in sodium)
- a stick blender (or a regular blender or food processor but that just makes more dishes in my opinion)
- a spoon for tasting
Here’s a recipe that will help you get your soup-making legs under you:
Puree of Cauliflower, Carrot and Parsley
- 1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut into florets (no need to be neat and tidy with this)
- 1/2 a pound of baby carrots
- 1/2 an onion, cubed
- 1 small jalapeno, cubed (seeded if you’re not a fan of the hot stuff)
- 1 medium white potato, cubed (This adds a little more heft and thickens the soup. You can also use beans. In fact, I often use cannelini beans, but had this potato laying around and decided to use it before it went bad.)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2-4 cups of low-sodium, low-fat stock (I used chicken)
- 1/2 a cup of fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Simmer the veggies, potato and garlic in 2 cups of the broth until fork tender. If too much broth evaporates, add more.
- Add in roughly chopped parsley and puree.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
This stores in the fridge and freezes well. I like making a batch on Sunday or Monday night and eating it for lunches, snacks or dinners the rest of the week. In fact, the flavors seem to blend better after they’ve sat and hung out together for a bit.
Other flavor combos:
- tomato, black bean, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro (maybe even add corn)
- broccoli, cauliflower, cannelini beans
- spinach, mushroom and nutmeg
- sweet potato, carrot and cinnamon
- chickpeas, cumin and lemon
Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments!