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Creating Delicious Soups: Easy as A-B-C

Female Chef Making Veg StockSoup is the epitome of comfort food, but you can also think of soup as a healthful and cancer-protective appetizer, side dish or one-pot meal. A soup or stew can hold a variety of colorful vegetables and is an easy way to add an extra serving or two every day. Start your meal with a light, broth-based soup and research suggests you may eat fewer calories overall at your meal. What a tasty way to help you get to or stay a healthy weight.

Whatever your cooking ability or inclination, the beauty of soup is that you can open a can and embellish it for a super quick meal, create your own from leftovers or take more time to start with all fresh ingredients and enjoy the fragrance as it simmers for hours.

The A-B-C’s of Soup

Add-Ins: Soup in 5-10 minutes.

For a soup that's healthier and tastier than just straight from the can, start with a can of reduced-sodium soup such as vegetable, minestrone or chicken noodle. Toss in some leftover beans, cooked vegetables and maybe add some low-sodium vegetable juice or a can of no-salt added diced tomatoes. Season with dried herbs or spices, heat and serve.

Broth Starters. Almost homemade in 20-30 minutes.

Base this convenience/homemade soup on reduced-sodium canned or boxed vegetable, chicken or beef broth. Begin by sautéing a chopped onion in vegetable oil, add cooked or canned beans (kidney or garbanzo, for example) and then add broth. As broth heats, add frozen chopped vegetables, like peas, carrots or leafy greens. If you have leftover brown rice or couscous, add this in last. For an AICR favorite, try our White Bean Soup with Spinach, Leeks and Couscous.

Create Your Own.  Your unique creation: an hour or two in the warm kitchen with a delicious aroma all day.

The key to made from scratch soup is the homemade broth. Here are instructions for both meat and vegetable broths.

Meat broth: Start with meaty beef soup bones, chicken pieces (you can also use a whole chicken for extra rich broth), cover with cold water, bring to a boil and then immediately reduce heat to a simmer. (You can also brown the meat, bones and vegetables in a hot oven before simmering in water – this creates a brown broth with roasted flavors.) Skim off any foam that develops from the boil so that you end with a broth that isn't cloudy. For additional flavor in your broth, throw in medium to large chunks of vegetables like carrots, onions and celery. Add a little salt early on to help develop the flavor, but don’t overdo – you can adjust later. Simmer poultry broth for 1-5 hours and beef broth for 6-12 hours. Strain broth and it is ready to use. If using later, cool in refrigerator.

Vegetable broth: Chop into small pieces vegetables such as carrots, onions, leeks, celery, mushrooms and tomatoes. Sauté chopped vegetables in vegetable oil, add cold water and simmer 30-40 minutes. Strain.

The homemade soup: Begin by sautéing a chopped onion in vegetable oil until soft. Then add, one at a time, chopped vegetables like carrots, celery and leek and sauté each for a few minutes. Pour in your broth, bring to a boil, then turn down heat. Add in more vegetables like turnips, greens, squash or corn. Make it a heartier soup by adding cooked beans and/or meat and a whole grain like brown rice or barley in the last hour of cooking. Season the soup with herbs, black pepper and salt to taste.

Check out the soup section of the AICR Test Kitchen for more recipes.

 

Published on January 10, 2013

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