This was published in the Food Matters section of The Times Herald Record.
I’ve had a lot of clients asking about easy, nourishing soups as the weather hangs in the teens. Here are my 3 favorites.
Why do I call them assembly instructions? Because you just need to have the ingredients on hand (or something close to them) and put them together. No worries about measuring or being exact. My recipes are forgiving like that, which is great if you’re short on time or patience. “Good enough” will still get you a delicious nutritious meal every time. And each of these is a meal in itself: satisfying, nourishing, but not fattening.
1. Miso Soup
This is one of my favorite go-to meals when I’ve worked late and want to eat light, and fast. It is easily doubled, for two.
A cup of one coarsely chopped vegetable such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, or zucchini
Fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
Frozen filet of wild caught salmon
2 Tablespoons Miso paste: I prefer miso made from rice, as it is gluten free, soy free, and has a lovely mellow flavor.
Kelp noodles (optional) These are rich in iodine and other micro nutrients, but don’t have the carbs of other noodles. You can find them online or at the health food store.
In a saucepan, put 2 cups water and the vegetable. You can experiment to find your favorite, but keep it simple and use one at a time. Add a handful of chopped cilantro or parsley, and allow to simmer, covered, a few minutes. Rinse the kelp noodles and add. Don’t cook the veggies fully yet. Add salmon, cover and poach on low medium heat until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle a little bit of liquid into your bowl and add Miso, blending into the liquid. Then add the rest of the soup, and enjoy!
2. Creamy Chicken Soup
This soup is a bit heartier. As always, I recommend free range chicken. The high healthy fat content will fill you up and make you forget this is a low carb meal.
4 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (You know I offer the best coconut oil, right? Barely processed, simply separated by centrifuge, it is so healthy and so delicious!)
1 Tablespoon Turmeric (this spice has SO many health benefits! Use it generously and regularly!)
1 teaspoon black cumin seed powder
(If you don’t have these, you could also use a mild curry powder)
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan (or other good quality natural) salt
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth if you have it. Water if you don’t.
1-1.5 cups of chopped leftover chicken
2 cups of low carb veggies, such as celery, zucchini, bok choy, peppers
1 can full fat organic coconut milk, such as Thai Kitchen
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Melt coconut oil in a stock pot over medium low heat. Turn heat to low, and add spices and salt. Allow to simmer a few minutes so that the oil absorbs the flavors. Add water or broth, veggies, and chicken, and turn heat back to medium. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, add coconut milk, stir, bring back to hot, but not boiling. Top with chopped cilantro if you have it. Done! Serves 2 generously.
3. Red Lentil Soup
Some of my clients are off beans and legumes, as they can contribute to inflammation, and are high in carbs, with lower protein than most people assume. But lentils are about the healthiest in the category, and have the added benefit of being fast and simple to cook, without needing soaking, unlike most dried beans. A cup will give you about 2 ounces of protein (about half what most people need for a meal) and while the carbs are high, almost a third of that is beneficial fiber. I add ginger for its anti-inflammatory quality as well as its flavor, and seeds for a little additional protein. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory also. This is a soup that keeps well all week, so I make a big batch. Plus it’s my son’s favorite, and at a healthy 23, he doesn’t have to worry about carbs. Don’t be afraid of the butter! As long as it’s from pastured cows, it’s a healthy fat. Pastured butters, such as KerryGold, are available at most supermarkets.
4 Tablespoons pastured butter or ghee (clarified butter)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon each black and white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon Himalayan or other healthy natural salt
1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger, peeled and diced, or more if you like it
1 Tablespoon of turmeric powder
6 cups of water
2 cups of red lentils
1 cup tomatoes or tomato sauce (optional)
Melt butter in a stock pot. Turn heat to low, and add next 5 ingredients. Simmer andn stir for a few minutes to infuse the flavors. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and cook on low for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. Finish with an immersion blender for a smoother texture.