It’s that time of year when we begin trading heartier meals for lighter fare.
But soup is actually great year-round and is what I refer to as a “one-dish wonder.” Not only is it fairly easy to make (especially in a blender), it’s also highly nutritious. Soups are often chock-full of nutrient-dense vegetables, legumes, and other fiber-filled ingredients that combine to deliver appealing textures and great flavors. You can get your entire daily vegetable requirement in just one pot and continue enjoying while the seasonings permeate each day. Thrice as nice, which makes it very economical, too.
Some people turn to soup as a weight-loss tool. Eating soup can slow your rate of calorie consumption, because it takes a relatively long time to consume and that gives your brain some time to register fullness. So, soup may be a component of a successful weight-loss program, not because of some magical fat-burning properties, but simply because it may help you limit the amount of food you consume.
The most healthful, nutrient-dense soups are those that use a basic broth/stock, a lean protein source (lean meat, fish, or beans/legumes), and a variety of vegetables. While cream-based soups are rich and tasty, they are also higher in calories so a little goes a long way. As an alternative to dairy, I add a potato to the stock when I want the silky texture without using cream.
There’s also the belief that soup helps cure what ails you, from chicken soup to bone broth. Chicken soup does more than feed your soul, it helps provide essential nutrients. And while bone broths seem to be the latest “trend,” they have been a staple in diets for centuries, well documented for their health benefits.
They are a good source of protein and minerals, and are said to help with arthritis, leaky gut and skin conditions. We’ll go in depth on this hot topic in a future column. Meantime, if you’d like a recipe for your bone broth foundation, visit my website at KarenSchuppert.com.
Today, I offer a soup recipe that rivals a shamrock in color. It’s heavy on flavor yet light on calories.
Turnip Soup with Greens
adapted from “Fresh From the Farmers’ Market” (Chronicle Books) by Janet Fletcher
Most often, turnips are sold in stores without the greens attached. Therefore, the best option is to buy them from your farmers market. If you store them for any length of time, detach the greens from the root and keep in a separate bag until you plan to use them. Because our farmers market is only open May-October, I originally bought the roots detached from the greens. For my first batch, I substituted watercress for color and added flavor (you could use spinach, too). Watercress is super high in antioxidants, which help fight cancers and detoxify the liver. I also added miso in place of salt for an extra dose of B vitamins along with enzymes that aid digestion.
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ pounds turnips, peeled and diced
1/2 cup arborio rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 pound turnip green leaves (no stems), or other greens like watercress, lightly chopped
1½ Tbsp. chopped fresh dill, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 Tbsp. organic white miso (my favorite brand is SouthRiver)
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over moderately low heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute to release its fragrance. Add turnips and rice, lightly season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat with seasonings. Add 3 cups broth, bring to a simmer, then cover and adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Cook 15 minutes. Stir in turnip greens, cover and simmer until turnips, greens and rice are soft, about 5 more minutes. Stir in dill. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth, in batches if necessary.
Return to pot and stir in remaining broth to achieve a soup-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning (this is when I add the miso).
Reheat to serve. Serve in warm bowls, garnishing each portion with a drizzle of olive oil and sprig of dill.
Janet Fletcher’s original recipe can be found in her book “Fresh From the Farmers’ Market,” which has an abundance of additional seasonal offerings.