Nothing provides comfort like a hot bowl of soup or stew as the seasons change and a chill returns to the air. Soups and stews offer a variety of different tastes using good-for-you foods, such as vegetables, beans and lean meat, and are a healthy choice during the cooler months. Soups are a great way to combine nutrients from a wide variety of food groups in one pot. The healthiest soups, typically broth based, include combinations of fresh low-fat ingredients and a minimum of salt and extra fat. We all know the importance of getting our vegetables, but sadly few of us get the recommended amounts each day!
The American Heart Association recommends adults consume eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Soups and stews can easily contribute to that total. Vegetables mix well into a variety of soups and stews, from creamy tomato to vegetable beef or chicken vegetable soup. Vegetables in soup contain many vitamins, such as A and C. Cream soups supply calcium and vitamin D. Soups and stews can help you meet your protein needs too as those made with a variety of beans and lean meats provide lean protein. Most soups, if made with lean meat, are low in fat, making them a good choice. Use fat-free broths and lean meat to reduce the fat content of soups and skim milk for cream soups. To further reduce the fat content of your soup without sacrificing flavor, chill it and skim off the fat before reheating and serving.
Perhaps equally beneficial to the health benefits are the stress-reducing convenience benefits! You can put a variety of ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning before you leave for the day, and return home to a delicious meal in the evening. Using leftovers in a soup pot or slow cooker can create new variations of favorite recipes since soup and stews lends well to experimentation. If you prefer to purchase soups already made for you, add fresh or frozen vegetables to increase the servings of vegetables and add flavor, just be mindful of the sodium in the prepared soups!
Black Bean Soup with Veggies
Makes 8 servings
3 carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
20 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
28 ounce can low sodium vegetable broth
15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
(Beef or chicken could be added to this recipe for extra protein)
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover.
Cook on low for 9-10 hours.
Nutrition Information per serving: 120 calories, 2 grams total fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, 350 milligrams sodium, 0 milligrams cholesterol.
Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For more recipes and access to the recipe’s full nutritional profile, visit www.cdc.gov.