You Should Eat More Soup: 5 Reasons Why
While we’re making our way through another long, cold winter, sipping steaming hot soups and stews can keep you and your family warm and toasty. Soup not only takes the bite out of a frosty night, it’s also a fuss-free way to get dinner on the table quickly.
Whether a you’re whipping up a broth-based creation or noshing on a bowl of hearty stew, Julie Fromm, a registered dietitian at Henry Ford Health System, says soups offers these five benefits:
1. They’re good for you.
While some soups can devastate a diet (cream-based varieties can be particularly high in fat and calories), most serve as a great vehicle to meet your daily quota for veggies. View soups as an opportunity to cash in on nature’s bounty (winter crops, including pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots and parsnips, won’t wilt or get limp when you cook them). If you have produce that’s about to pass its prime, tossing them into a soup recipe can give them new life.
“You can even drop frozen vegetables into boiling broth without compromising taste or texture,” says Fromm.
2. They’re inexpensive and easy to prepare.
Soups and stews don’t require a large amount of hands-on time. In fact, if you use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot, you can prepare a savory soup in five minutes flat, and let the cooker do the rest of the work. If you amp up the liquid and vegetables, you can use smaller amounts of expensive ingredients, such as chicken, fish and beef. Then, make it a meal with whole-grain bread on the side and a small salad if you like.
3. They freeze well.
Soup and stews are great if you want to meal prep lunches or dinners in advance. Whip up a batch on the weekend, and you can stash half in the freezer to enjoy later. A bonus: you’ll have healthy, homemade soup at the ready when you’re busy, under the weather or too tired to cook.
4. They keep you hydrated.
During the winter chill, it’s not uncommon to drink less than you need. But while you may not be hot and sweaty, you still lose fluid through daily activities. “Since soups are mostly liquid, they’re a great way to stay hydrated and full,” says Fromm.
5. They give your immune system a boost.
Soups can help you stave off cold and flu, and they’re a great antidote when you’re sick, too! Most soups are loaded with disease-fighting nutrients. In fact, studies show that chicken soup in particular can help prevent the common cold, especially if you load it up with fresh garlic, onions, celery and carrots. (They all contain powerful immune-boosting chemicals.) A bonus: the hot liquid helps soothe a sore throat.
Related Topic: Inflammation and Your Diet: What’s the Connection?
Watch the Sodium
“Whenever possible, use homemade stock or broth,” says Fromm. “Bouillon cubes, canned broth and even broth in a box are often high in sodium and can be particularly problematic for people with high blood pressure.”
Strapped for time and need a quick fix? Be sure to check the nutrition facts food label on the broth you buy to compare the sodium content of your favorites. (Don’t forget to pay attention to the serving size!) A daily value of more than 20 percent is considered a high sodium food.
Some of our Favorite Soup/Stew Recipes
Craving more creative ideas? Here are five fabulous soup recipes to keep you warm and healthy this winter:
Attend our “Simple Soups from Scratch” cooking class Thursday, Feb. 21 from 6-8 p.m. at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. The cost is $20 per person. Space is limited, so register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (248) 325-3890.
Julie Fromm, MPH, RD, is a community dietitian with Henry Ford Health System’s Generation With Promise program, which focuses on empowering youth and families in the community to increase their consumption of healthy foods and physical activity and balance caloric intake.