For Better Living: January is National Soup Month
Sandra Cain Bladen County Cooperative Extension
Nothing warms you up like a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day. Soup can be healthy and can be very inexpensive to prepare. In addition to preparing it on the stovetop, you can use a slow cooker, oven or kettle.
Soup is a satisfying choice for lunch or supper this time of year as it is a hot food that is quick and easy to prepare. It can be made quickly in large quantities so extras can be frozen or used for another meal, which definitely puts the time-saving practice of cook once and eat twice in practice. In fact, most soups taste better on the second day or for the second meal as the flavors have time to intensify.
What’s nice about soup is that you can utilize leftovers in the refrigerator such as meat, poultry or fish; dried beans; vegetables; and rice or pasta. Or if you prefer to follow a recipe, you’ll find an abundance of soup recipes on-line and in cookbooks. Or make your family favorites.
Check out the wide variety of canned soups available at your local market. You can heat up canned soups, adding more ingredients if you want, for a healthy meal in no time.
Be sure to read the “Nutrition Facts” on the food labels as canned soups are generally very high in sodium although most also are now available in a lower-sodium variety. Before preparing, check to see if the canned soup is condensed and meant to have liquid added. To increase the nutritional value of canned soups, add low-fat milk instead of water.
Soup as the center of a meal can be simple, quick and filling on a cold, winter day. A hearty soup that contains meat, fish, poultry or dried beans and plenty of vegetables is good to go with the addition of wholegrain bread or crackers and fruit for dessert. Depending on the contents of your soup, including protein sources and vegetables, you might serve fresh vegetables and dip, hummus or cottage cheese to complete the meal.
When making soup that will not be served immediately, remember to follow basic food safety principles. The first principle is NEVER put the large pot of hot soup directly into the refrigerator to cool. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that it takes an eight-inch diameter pot of chicken soup 24 hours to cool to a safe temperature (40 degrees F) in your refrigerator.
Before refrigerating soup, transfer it to shallow containers (no more than two-inches deep). The soup can be loosely covered while still warm in the refrigerator. Once the soup has cooled, cover it tightly.
If soup is not going to be eaten within two days, label the container with the name of its contents, date the package and put into freezer. Be sure to leave some headroom so as the soup freezes, it does not pop the lid off the container.
Soup should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F are considered the danger zone, an ideal temperature range for rapid growth of bacteria and pathogens that could result in food-borne illness. Heat soup to 165 degrees F before serving.
Sources: University of Vermont, University of Nevada
10 Minute Veggie Soup
4 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth, low salt variety
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup macaroni, dry
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1. Combine chicken broth, diced tomatoes, basil, and onion and garlic powders.
2. Bring to a simmer and add pasta and frozen vegetable mix. The broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot mix works well in this recipe.
3. Cook for 6 minutes and remove from heat.
Note: Pasta will not be cooked all the way through. Let soup sit for 5 minutes, and pasta will become soft. Soup will then be ready to serve.
Split Pea Soup
1 large onion
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 ½ cup dry split peas
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1. Chop onion. Cook in margarine in a large sauce pan until tender.
2. Wash and drain split peas.
3. Add water, split peas and salt to onion. Bring to boiling.
4. Lower heat to simmer and cover pan with lid. Simmer about 2 hours, until thickened. Add hot water as needed during cooking.
Option: Cook a ham bone or pieces of ham in the soup. Remove bone and serve meat in soup.
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
2 cups cooked noodles
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
2 cups shredded American cheese
Salt to taste
5 cups skim milk
1. Combine all ingredients in a crockpot.
2. Stir well.
3. Cook on low for 2 1/2 to 4 hours. If soup is too thick, add a little more milk.
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