Soup tidbits- how to make them in a flash while boosting your nutrition

© Pixbilder | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Pixbilder | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

While making soup from scratch used to be nothing out of the ordinary for most cooks, nowadays the thought of it can be very intimidating to many. In reality, though, cooking up a pot of soup doesn’t require much in the way of culinary skills.  But the real deal does require some good ingredients and time for a soup to simmer to achieve maximum flavours.

There are shortcuts, though.

If you’re a soup-making newbie or are in a time crunch, check out many of the convenience products that you can either use as a base for your own creation or enjoy straight from the package. A low-sodium or no added salt broth combined with frozen vegetables and a scant spoon full of ginger from the jar, then topped off with a splash of a flavor packed sesame oil  can be prepared in a flash.

When selecting prepared broths and soups, be aware that sodium-reduced on a label does not mean low sodium.
According to labelling laws, there is 25 per cent less sodium contained compared to the reference or original product. If the original is sodium-laden, the sodium-reduced one could still provide a hefty dose of sodium.

To keep sodium levels from soaring past recommended totals, read the Nutrition Facts box and compare numbers and serving sizes. Even though many companies are now offering products with much lower sodium counts, there are still plenty of sodium-laden selections on store shelves.  If you have a large bowl of a chicken noodle soup mix with sodium count of 750 milligrams per cup, you’ll surpass the recommended amount of sodium for the day in just one sitting.

Besides taming appetites, soups are also great way to boost your nutritional  ratings.  For instance, some nutrients are better absorbed when the food is cooked instead of raw.  When you have cooked carrots, for example,  you will absorb more beta carotene, the orange pigment or carotenoid, than when carrots are consumed  raw.  The same goes for the lycopene, the red pigment, in tomatoes.

Another nutritious perk of cooking your vegetables in soup rather than in water –is that you don’t spill out the cooking liquid.   So add baby spinach to a bowl of broth to retain more of the water soluble vitamins such as the B vitamin, folate, instead of steaming the spinach and tossing out the cooking liquid.  Another speedy way to prepare a veggie-packed soup and up your vegetable intake is to add some pre-cut cole slaw mix- shredded cabbage and  carrots to some broth mixed with canned-diced tomatoes.

Or consider adding some other leafy greens to a prepared vegetable soup to  meet your veggie quota.  Are you seeking ways to  eat more pulses – split peas, lentils or beans – or whole grains like barley? A spicy lentil or bean and barley soup can offer a satisfying way to do so.

A recent study involving children showed that serving large portions of  vegetable soup at the start of the meal offered a number of advantages. For one, in the three to five year old subjects, the soup improved the youngsters’ vegetable intake. And that’s almost always a bonus.

The research also showed that having a large portion of a low calorie vegetable soup led to fewer calories being consumed at that meal. But for kids with small appetites, it’s a warning to keep portion sizes in check.

Put together your own combos of  prepared broths and frozen or fresh vegetables for a speedy potage. When making larger amounts, be sure to freeze some in labelled containers for quick use.

Next up, I will have a fast, low-calorie soup recipe.

Do you have any fast soup making tips to share?


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Categories: Superfoods, Tips and Tricks

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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