Soup A complete meal

There’s nothing quite like a bowl of hot, nourishing soup to chase away your winter blues

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Soup a complete meal

A hot bowl of soup that is nutritious, comforting and filling…. What else do you need to take the chill out of your bones on these freezing winter nights when the temperature falls below 0 degrees, breaking all previous records in Sydney!

There is evidence that soup was consumed even in the iron and bronze ages. It is quite likely that people have been enjoying some version of meat cooked in heated water since the days when prehistoric man was forced to stalk and kill his dinner before he could even think about cooking it. Portable soup was devised in the 18th century by boiling seasoned meat until a thick, resinous syrup was left, that could be dried and stored for months at a time.  Commercial soups became popular with the invention of canning in the 19th century, and today a great variety of canned and dried soups are on the market. Dr. John T. Dorrance, a chemist with the Campbell Soup Company invented condensed soup in 1897. Today the meaning of soup has changed. It can be as thick as bouillabaisse that nearly crosses the line from soup to stew, or thin clear consommés or anything between these two.

A hot bowl of soup can be prepared from various main ingredients like vegetables, grains, eggs, meats and seafood. Bisque is a heavy and smooth soup that is made from seafood like lobsters and shrimps. Another thick soup is chowder, a chunky soup generally made from seafood but also includes poultry, vegetables and other ingredients. Stock and broth are clear soups that have ingredients like meat and poultry which are cooked with vegetables and herbs. Bouillon refers to commercial products like granules and cubes. Consommés are strong meat or fish broth that have undergone clarification. Dessert soups include Ginataan, a Filipino soup made from coconut milk, milk, fruits and tapioca pearls, served hot or cold. Garnishes are used to increase the visual appeal, texture and tastes.

Soup is consumed the world over: some of the well-known varieties include New England chowder, Spanish gazpachomiso soup from Japan and bouillabaisse from Southern France. Mulligatawny soup, goulash of Hungary, Russian borscht, Italian minestrone, French onion and the Chinese won ton are other popular international varieties.

Benefits of soups

  • Soup may not necessarily be taken as an appetizer at the start of the meal but it can be planned as a complete healthy, nutritious meal in itself. It is an excellent way to add healthy beans, vegetables, legumes, grains and meat, fish and chicken to your diet, and also an inexpensive way to take in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
  • There is nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of soup for a sore throat and taking the chill out of your bones on a winter evening. It helps to soothe coughs and sore throat as the gentle heat from the soup improves the circulation of blood near the throat and the windpipe. Also, a power-packed soup with minerals and vitamins helps to boost your immunity and thus helps to relieve cold.
  • Healthy soups are filling and if you do not add high fat foods, they can be quite nutritious and a balanced meal. In China, the children are sent off to school after eating a bowl of soup made with rice grains.
  • Soup is the easiest form of food for digestion and absorption. The simmering and boiling allows the nutrients to dissolve in the broth and thus aids in digestion.
  • Bone soup or broth is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, silicon and glucosamine. Bone soup also contains proteins, collagen and natural salts, and is thus excellent for the elderly and people suffering from joint pains.
  • Soups are a great healthy substitute in winters for excessive tea and coffee.
  • Children also tend to enjoy soups more than heaps of cooked veggies to fulfill their 5 serves of vegetables every day.
  • The Japanese miso soup is one of the healthiest soups. It is made from miso – a soybean paste which is fermented with salt and rice or barley for at least ten months and dashi which is seaweed and bonito flakes. Other ingredients are frequently added and may include green onions, mushrooms, radish, clams, and   different types of tofu.

Keep a few tips in mind when planning healthy, nutritious soup meals.

  • Add many vegetables such as spinach, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, corn, peas, celery, bok choy, leeks, pumpkin and tomatoes to increase the fibre, vitamin and mineral content of the soup.
  • Add beans, lentils, whole grains, tofu, and sprouts to add more protein in a vegetarian soup.
  • Reconstituting your soup with skimmed milk or non fat milk powder increases its protein and calcium instead of adding whole milk or cream. Try to avoid adding cream as much as possible as it introduces unnecessary fat and calories.
  • Skinless chicken, lean meat, eggs and seafood added to the soups help to add on the protein. But make sure you trim off all the fat from the meat.
  • The inclusion of a little pasta or noodles helps to make it a complete meal.
  • Also avoid adding maida or corn flour as a thickening agent as it adds extra calories. Instead use potatoes or sweet potatoes, rice or even washed moong dal as an excellent thickening agent.
  • Add your favourite herbs and spices to enhance the flavors and boost up the immunity. You can experiment with fresh ground pepper, cardamom, parsley, fresh coriander, basil, oregano, lemon grass, ginger, and garlic.
  • Beware of processed or canned or commercial soups as these may be very high in sodium and carbohydrates, and are more expensive than homemade soups.
  • Try to simmer and cook the soup stock slowly so as to extract the maximum nutrition and flavors.

Soup can be as simple or as complicated and interesting a dish as you prefer. Therefore, enjoy yourself with hot soups this winter and get the best of health and nutrition.

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