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Soothing Soups

Chilly weather calls for hot soup simmering on the stove, filling the house with enticing aromas. Soup nourishes the body as well as the senses, providing plenty of nutrition as a main dish or served on the side.

Homemade soup presents opportunities for improvisation. While broth-based soups can be lower in calories, sometimes circumstances or a celebratory mood call for a rich, creamy soup. Served with warm whole-grain bread or rolls, hot soup of any sort pleases diners of all ages.

The nutritional value of soup has long been acknowledged. In 16th century France, street vendors sold a highly concentrated soup as an energy booster for anyone suffering from exhaustion. When a Parisian man opened a shop in 1765 that specialized in soup, his business was dubbed a “restaurant,” a spinoff of the word “restorative.”

Today, there’s no need to head to a restaurant when you’re craving a bowl of nutritious soup. When prepared with meat, soups provide essential amino acids that the body needs. Vegetable or even fruit-based soups can be lower in fat with numerous vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamins A and C, and are also a good source of fiber. Bean soups provide a protein-based dish suitable for vegetarians. Fish soups and chowders offer vitamin D, niacin, phosphorous and several of the B vitamins. Chicken soup, a classic comfort food, is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol. Substitute turkey for chicken and you gain extra iron in every serving.

Flavorful soups also make for cost effective meals. An advantage to the budget, soups can be built around seasonal vegetables or less expensive cuts of meat that “tenderize” as they simmer in stock. Add a bit of pasta to any soup – try whole wheat varieties, and you introduce complex carbohydrates and starches. Don’t overlook the humble potato as a key ingredient in soups. Potatoes contain vitamins A, C and D.

Julia Child well understood the value of soup. “Since a brimming bowlful of nourishing soup will blunt the edge off ravening appetites,” she observed, “you can cut down considerably on the copiousness of the meat course.”