What says winter more than a big bowl of warm, hearty soup? A perfect lunch or dinner to heat you up and satisfy your winter hunger. Not only are they a delicious winter warmer, but also a convenient, cost-effective meal which can be enjoyed by the family or made in bulk and frozen when cooking for one. But does your favourite soup get the dietitian tick of approval? How can you make a nutritious AND delicious soup? Well, Fuel Your Life is here to unpack just that!
What Makes a Soup Nutritious?
Soup can be a great way to increase your intake of veggies and grains, providing a great source of fibre to promote a healthy gut and keep you fuller for longer. Most soups are a good source of key nutrients including Vitamin A for eye health, Potassium for heart health and Magnesium which assists in muscle contractions and energy production. In saying this, the health benefits from soup are obviously dependent on the composition of the soup itself.
So, how can we make a healthy soup?
Top Tips for a Healthy Soup
Choose a Base
When selecting a base, choose one of the following options:
- Salt-reduced stock or broth
- Homemade stock, with little or no added salt – use herbs and spices instead
- Tinned tomatoes (no added salt).
These options are both low in saturated fat AND low in salt. Why is that important? Well, cream-based soups are typically high in saturated fat which may have negative impacts on your cholesterol levels, heart health and are higher in energy (kilojoules). While salt (or sodium), can contribute to elevated blood pressure, which puts extra pressure on our heart and kidneys.
Add Plenty of Veggies
The beauty about soups is that they are SO versatile, meaning you can add pretty much any vegetable you have lying around in your fridge, freezer or bench, and it will more than likely taste delicious! This makes the soup a great way to use up some ‘sad’ looking veggies from your fridge, which ultimately saves you some dollars and is a great way to reduce food waste.
What seasonal winter veggies go well in soups?
- Cauliflower and broccoli, grated or chopped
- Onion and garlic
- Leafy greens such as silverbeet, kale and spinach
The greater variety of veg, the better; More veggies = greater variety of nutrients in your soup, such as Fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Potassium.
Don’t Forget the Protein!
Protein is an important element, which is sometimes overlooked when creating soup. Adding protein to your soup will keep you fuller for longer while assisting in ensuring your protein needs are met to promote growth and repair in the body and enhance our immune health.
So, what kind of protein can you add?
- Lentils, beans and other legumes
- Pulled roasted skinless chicken
- Lean beef/pork/turkey mince
- Lean diced beef or lamb
For an extra protein ‘kick’, garnish your soup with nuts, seeds, reduced-fat cheese and/or reduced-fat Greek Yoghurt. If you are looking to gain weight, you may even stir in some milk powder.
What About Grains?
Grains are another way to boost the fibre content of your soup. Why not try adding:
When it comes to serving, pair with a piece of wholegrain bread or toast to soak up all that yummy soup!
Healthy Soup ‘Swaps’
Looking to improve a well-loved recipe? Why not try swapping:
- Regular stock or broth for salt-reduced versions
- Cream for reduced-fat milk
- Sour cream for low-fat Greek Yoghurt
- Fatty cuts of meat and processed meats (e.g. ham) for lean meat with fat-trimmed and/or legumes
- Butter for Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt for herbs, spices and flavourings e.g. garlic, onion, chives, chilli, pepper, thyme and parsley.
Soup is a cost-effective, nourishing option to warm you and your family up this winter. With ways to create a soup, packed with nutrient-rich ingredients, there is no reason it can’t become a regular addition to your weekly menu! Share your favourite soups with us by tagging #CookingWithFYL on Facebook and Instagram.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your nutrition this winter? Head to our website and get in contact with one of our brilliant Dietitian’s today!