Build Your Own Nourishing Soup Guide
Stay nourished this fall with a heart-warming bowl of soup made with your choice of ingredients!
My ideal fall evening includes a cozy blanket, lit up fireplace, and a bowl of warm soup. Homemade soup can be the ultimate quick and comforting fall dinner option especially for those busy evenings. To turn a simple side soup into more of meal, combining different food groups can yield a filling and satisfying soup bowl. Check out my steps to create a nutrient-dense soup that you can also batch cook, portion out and freeze to enjoy later in the week!
Step 1: Choose A Liquid Base
A liquid base can bring all the ingredients together and add flavor to your bowl of soup. Homemade or store-bought vegetable broth or chicken stock can be great base options that pair well with just about any protein and vegetable choice. When selecting a convenient store-bought stock or broth, opting for a low-sodium or unsalted option can help you cut back on salt intake.
If you prefer a creamy soup, including a splash of coconut milk, dairy milk, yogurt, or pureed vegetables can help create that consistency. Pureed vegetables like tomato, squash, carrots, and zucchini can create a thick, smooth and flavorful soup base on their own or combined with broth. If your base flavor seems strong, you can always add water to adjust the taste.
Step 2: Pick Your Protein
Protein can be a key nutrient to add into soups to make them both filling and satisfying. Lean animal protein like skinless, boneless chicken can be a great quick option to add into soups.
It can really soak in the flavors from the the broth, spices and herbs as the soup cooks. Other animal protein options can include fish, ground turkey, and lean cuts of red meat. Having pre-cooked meat on hand can be a plus since it helps shorten the cook time. You can toss it in when the soup is almost done cooking.
Plant proteins like canned beans or lentils can be a convenient and affordable ingredient that also provides a dose of fiber. You can also combine these plant protein sources with animal protein in your soup bowl. Choosing a protein source that compliments your liquid base can be key to creating a delicious bowl of soup
Step 3: Toss in Veggies
Vegetables can bring color, texture and fiber to your soup. They also provide nutrients like vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, and potassium. I suggest including at least 1-2 vibrant vegetables like bell peppers, spinach, purple cabbage, or squash. To cut back on prep time, choosing frozen vegetables can be a great choice.
It can be important to note that quick-cooking vegetables like fresh spinach, thinly sliced vegetables and small florets should be added in towards the end of cooking while cabbage and root vegetables like potatoes can be added towards the beginning. For vegetables that take a bit longer to cook, I like to sauté them first with onion, garlic and oil before adding the liquid base to enhance their flavor.
Step 4: Flavor it Up
Spices and herbs not only give your soup a flavor boost, it can also give any soup an ethnic touch. For example, I love to sprinkle in coriander powder, turmeric, chili powder and cumin seeds in my chicken noodle soup for a hint of South Asian flavor. You can also add Italian flavors with basil, garlic and oregano or Mexican flavors with lime juice, cilantro and chipotle powder. Some other common spices and herbs include bay leaves, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cilantro, and chives. You can experiment with different seasonings and herb combos that pair well with your soup of choice!
Step 5: Last-Minute Adds
Last-minute adds can include, pre-cooked ingredients, quick cooking vegetables or toppings for your soup. Tossing in pre-cooked or under-cooked whole grain pasta, brown rice and ancient grains like quinoa or barley can be added into soups towards the end since they tend to get soggy or over-cooked if added too early. They can provide heartiness, texture, nutrients like B vitamins and fiber to soups. To add on, soup toppings like fresh cilantro, chives, scallions, cheese, croutons, roasted pumpkin seeds can be sprinkled on right before serving.
To get started with a recipe, check out my coziest Black Bean Soup recipe here!
Mexican Bean soup:
Liquid Base: Chicken stock & pureed tomatoes
Protein: Black Beans
Vegetables: Frozen corn, onions, and bell peppers
Flavor: Fresh cilantro, chipotle powder, lime juice
Toppings: Grated cheese, whole wheat tortilla croutons
Mediterranean Lentil Soup:
Liquid Base: Vegetable broth
Vegetables: Carrots and zucchini
Flavor: Ground cumin, coriander powder, lemon juice, garlic
Toppings: Red pepper flakes and whole wheat pita bread croutons
Chicken Noodle Soup (with South Asian Flavors)
Liquid Base: Chicken broth
Protein: Skinless, boneless diced pre-cooked chicken breast
Vegetables: Carrots and celery
Flavor: Garlic, chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, cumin seeds
Last-minute add: Egg noodles and spinach
Hungry for more information ? Check out my previous posts below!