I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I make soup like a “Little Ol’ Nova Scotian Grandma.” I’m really more of a “Rule Follower,” than a “Recipe Follower.” Total Aside, I secretly love following the Rules, although I do opt for the occasional marginal rule break…that’s how I build unexpected joy into my day. I can be a bit sneaky. Sneaky/fun; sneaky/harmless; not sneaky/malicious. It’s a glass of wine at lunch, Breakfast for dinner, a Naughty Message on a mug, something that makes me giggle; even better, something that makes my friends giggle.
Back to Soup Making…I posted a photo of my Chicken Cabbage Soup this week and was asked for a Recipe. Hmmmm….how can I explain his one…I make a soup every week in the Winter. It’s truly the best way to get your veggies in during the cold months and a simple “go-to” lunch for the week.
When it’s cold outside, consuming vegetables that are partially cooked eases up on digestion. Soup is simple way to add many vegetables to your diet, and to use up all of those nutritious frozen veggies from your freezer. I blanch and freeze many vegetables in the peak of the season, during the Summer months. When vegetables are frozen, they lose 30% of their nutritional value. Vegetables picked at the peak of nutrition, likely have significantly higher nutrient density than those picked in far off countries and shipped via ocean or highway; especially when they are local vegetables frozen in their healthiest and freshest state. I also explore my fridge for vegetables that I purchased, that didn’t make it into my recipes. Soup is quite simply one of the best ways save money and avoid throwing out quality food.
This week, I had leftover Cabbage. Cabbage is an incredible detoxifying vegetable. It is a hearty and delicious vegetable, loaded with important nutrients that support your immune system. Cabbage is high in vitamin C, folate and loaded with antioxidants. One such antioxidant, commonly found in cruciferous vegetables is sulforphane, which is known to decrease inflammation in the body and help to cleanse the liver. Cabbage possesses both soluble and insoluble fibre which promotes gut health and healthy bowel movements and can assist in lowering LDL Cholesterol. In my Gluten Free Life, it is also a wonderful Noodle Replacement.
Now for the Soup Rules…
RULE NUMBER ONE: START WITH A DELICIOUS BROTH
I use Bone Broth, but an Organic Pre-packaged Broth works well too. A Little Ol’ Nova Scotian Grandma would have used Bone Broth.
RULE TWO: SALT AND HERBY FLAVOURS
I love me a Bay Leaf! If I’m making a soup, or a spaghetti sauce, I’m adding a Bay Leaf, or two. When I start my soup, I add salt and dried herbs. My most commonly used soup herbs include Herbs de Provence, sometimes oregano and often with the chicken soup, sage or poultry seasoning (which is mainly sage). I don’t use just any salt, I want a sea salt, even better a Himalayan sea salt. The iodized version that we buy on the market shelf, has been refined, sure it has iodine, but any of the minerals that would help you deplete sodium from your system have been removed, and they’re being sold back to you in your Multi-mineral supplements. Use a good quality salt that’s loaded with minerals. You can tell salt has minerals by its colour; pure white means it’s been refined, you don’t want that. Look for grey or pink. There are so many affordable options for purchasing sea salt, check the shelves of your local Dollar Store, or hit the food section at Winners! Or find a local spice provider, you won’t regret making a local connection and helping to support a small business.
RULE THREE: ADD VEGETABLES ACCORDING TO THEIR COOK TIME
No one likes squishy carrots or mashed up zucchini. Add your vegetables one at a time, according their cook time. I typically start with potatoes, squash, carrots and celery. The hard vegetables. In my cabbage soup, I added carrots only, cooked for five minutes, and then added my sliced cabbage. My soup cooked for approximately 10 more minutes, before I followed Rule Four.
RULE FOUR: ADD COOKED MEAT TOWARD THE END OF THE SOUP MAKING
If you’re adding meat to the soup, no need to boil it beyond the point of cooked. Boiling depletes nutrients, texture and flavour. I add my delicious roasted meat, close to the end of my cooking. I add it along with vegetables that need very little time to cook. I add meat, vegetables like zucchini and cook for one more minute before I turn off the burner. In my cabbage soup, I added chicken and spiralized sweet potato; because it was spiralized, it required very little cooking time. I purchased my spiralized sweet potato at the grocery store to make salads; when I surveyed the fridge, this was among the veggies that needed to be used up and Wow! Was it ever great in soup.
RULE FIVE: ADD YOUR FROZEN PEAS, FRESH HERBS AND ACIDITY
I always add my frozen peas or corn at this stage. They’re already blanched, they’ll cook a bit more in the soup but will also help to bring the soup down to a cooler temperature for serving. I also add my fresh herbs. Herbs that spend too much time in a soup become flavourless, this is the perfect time to add them. Finally, a splash of acidity, I love Apple Cider Vinegar in soup. Apple Cider Vinegar primes your stomach for digestion. Plus it tastes delicious. Another option would be a white vinegar or the juice of a lemon.
RULE SIX: NOODLES DON’T BELONG IN SOUP
Don’t get me wrong, I love a noodle soup, just don’t leave them in your soup, they’ll break down in the fridge or soak up your Broth. I keep my cooked noodles in a separate container and add them directly to my bowl before serving. I typically use a gluten free noodle, so the whole family can enjoy the same lunch. If its just me eating, I often use precooked quinoa in my Cabbage Soup.
RULE SEVEN: SOUP IS A DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR GOODNESS
I don’t like eating the same thing everyday, this is where my soup gets really creative. I top it with fresh spinach, sauerkraut, quinoa, or last night’s beans. If you are one those lucky people that can handle dairy, some parmesan cheese goes a long way! You can also squeeze the juice of a lime into your bowl, maybe some hot sauce, add cilantro and serve with some nacho chips. Pictured below is the same soup featured in the top image…looks totally different, right? Served with spinach, quinoa, black beans and sauerkraut.