Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Soups of the Season

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Soups of the Season

Article excerpt

Soups of the Season

Between May and October, my stove just takes up space. Around the time of the first frost, though, my culinary thinking shifts from fruits and salads to the hearty staples of winter: breads, casseroles, and most of all soup. Nothing is as comforting on a cold day as an aromatic mug of soup, and with choices ranging from light broths to thick chowders, there's a soup for every appetite and occasion.

Although soups can't claim the vitamin-packed freshness and enzyme nutrition of summer's crudites, they are healthful choices. The classically favored ingredients are among nature's best -- vegetables, beans, noodles -- and because you consume the liquid in which the vegetables are cooked, all the vitamins that withstand the heating process are available for you. Of course, the body benefits of any soup can be mitigated with unnecessary extras -- pork in bean soup, for example, or too much salt in French onion. Most canned soups are both overly salted and overly cooked, so it's wise to start from scratch, especially since leftovers are often tastier than the first pot was.

Any chef will tell you that the secret to a good crock of soup is in the base -- the broth or stock you start with. Now, most of those chefs will go on to insist that that stock be chicken or beef, but that simply isn't so. The leftover water from cooking vegetables makes a fine broth, and since you're cooking vegetables to make soup, you're creating a broth in the process even if your base is simply water.

A variety of seasoning can boost a broth's "taste quotient" admirably. My favorite is Bernard Jensen's Broth & Seasoning, a salt-free powder of dehydrated vegetables available at health food stores. Miso is another excellent flavor enhancer. It is a fermented soybean product often used in Oriental cuisine. There are several varieties of miso paste to try, but all are savory, somewhat salty, and offer a richness to soups and sauces. (An easy way to experiment with miso is to use instant Miso-Cup from the natural food store. It's in convenient powder form and can be used alone as broth or as a soup starter.) And don't forget the elegant effect of herbs: basil is good for minestrone, lentil, pea and tomato soups, and any soup with olive oil; dill is best in creamy leek and potato soups, both now and when these are chilled in summer; marjoram is lovely in potato, pea and tomato soup; nutmeg perks up any soup containing spinach, carrots, or squash; oregano is a natural in minestrone and other tomato-based vegetable soups; and thyme accents clear broths nicely.

MEXI-VEGIE SOUPLE

6 cups water 3 oz. tomato paste 3 oz. salsa or spaghetti sauce 1/2 cup each: turnips, rutabagas,

onions, celery, carrots, all chopped 1/4 cup chopped green pepper 2/3 cup chopped zucchini 2 cups cut green beans (frozen o. …

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