Nina’s Tips & Techniques: New Year, Fresh Start – Soup

Is soup a meal? I never feel full after eating soup – how do I convert myself into a soup lover?

Soup can absolutely be a meal! And soup is a great way to combine heaps of fresh, restorative ingredients into one dish that is comforting and nourishing. I have a few secrets to making soups filling and hearty:

  1. Incorporate protein – Protein helps you stay fuller longer. Making sure your soup or stew has some protein element will leave you feeling full and nourished after your meal. This can be as simple as using a rich chicken stock instead of a vegetable stock. If you want to make your soup vegetarian, consider adding beans, legumes, chickpeas, etc to your soup. For example, when you’re making a blended root vegetable soup, add a cup of chickpeas while blending – you’ll never know they are there, but it really helps fill you up. 
  2. Think about the thickness/texture – Sometimes fullness is really a perception thing. If you are eating a watery, thin soup it just doesn’t feel filling, even if it is packed with nutrients. If the soup you are making is broth based, make sure it is chock full of stuff – lots of veggies, grains, and meat. Try thickening the broth just a little with a flour roux or a bit of corn starch. Giving the broth a thicker mouth feel will really make the whole dish taste more complete. When I make a lentil soup, I sometimes take ¼ of the finished soup and blend it super smooth in the blender and then add it back in to the original batch. This also improves the texture. If your soup is a puree, make sure you are not blending too much liquid into it, as this will make your soup runny and loose. A pureed soup should be thick and smooth. To make sure you don’t end up with too much liquid, only add enough stock to your soup to barely cover the ingredients while cooking. This usually results in just the right balance for a blended soup.
  3. Use great ingredients and treat them with care – Your final dish is only as good as the ingredients you start with. Use high quality meat, home made or high quality stock, and fresh veggies. Take time to develop the flavors of each ingredient – soften your onions, roast the veggies, simmer ingredients for a long time – these little steps will all contribute to a wonderful final product!

Is soup a decent way to get more vegetables into my family?

Soup is a great vehicle for vegetable consumption! I try to add lots of extra vegetables to all the soups I make. For example, I sometimes double the amount of veggies a recipe calls for to make it really flavorful and veggie- heavy. I often add additional vegetables to my soup that are not called for – like I added parsnips to my beef stew the other day and they made it super sweet and amazing! I’ll chop braising greens and wilt them down in soups – kale, chard, collard greens, spinach, etc. If certain members of your family are timid about trying new veggies, try hiding them in a pureed soup and after they’ve devoured their share,  tell them “Surprise!! You just ate two new kinds of winter squash!”

 

Featured Recipe: Tomato-Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Saffron Yogurt