Souped Up Health
Just like sitting by the fireplace, a bowl of hot soup on a snowy day makes winter unique. Soup nourishes the body and warms the soul.
While winter germs are floating all around, eating soup packed with vegetables is a feasible way to boost your immune system. Soup may be cooked in large batches and frozen in meal-sized containers for instant meals later.
This recipe is a delicious way to eat health-promoting greens. Beans add heartiness and protein.
Bean and Green Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound of greens, such as kale, Swiss chard, or spinach, coarsely chopped
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 small can green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups water
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cans canned navy or great northern beans
1 teaspoon ground oregano
½ teaspoon ground basil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the greens, and sauté until they are wilted.
Stir the tomatoes and green chiles, garlic, water, bay leaves, cumin and onion powder. Simmer the vegetable mixture until the greens are soft.
Stir in the beans, oregano and basil, and continue simmering until heated through, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe is vegan, but the cashew cream makes it substantial. Butternut squash may be used if delicata is unavailable.
Delicata Squash Bisque
(Makes 4 large bowls, 6-8 cups)
3 pounds delicata squash, or similar winter squash
Oil for roasting
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon thyme
Lots of black pepper
Salt to taste
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 cup vegetable broth, divided
Preheat oven to 400º F. Peel squash, and chop off the ends. Halve the squash and scrape out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet cut-side down, and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until tender and beginning to brown.
Add cashews to blender and ½ cup of veggie broth. Begin pulsing to incorporate, eventually turning the blender all the way on, while slowly adding the other ½ cup of broth. Let blender run for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Set cream aside. If not completely smooth, strain before adding it to the soup.
Transfer squash into a large soup pot, breaking into chunks. Add 4 cups of veggie broth, thyme and black pepper as desired. Bring to boil, turn down the heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes, covered.
Blend the soup in batches until smooth, being careful not to overfill your blender. Or use a hand-held blender.
Return the blended soup to pot, and add all but ¼ cup of the cashew cream. Taste and season with salt and more pepper if desired. Garnish in bowls with extra cashew cream drizzled on the top.
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email email@example.com, or call (828) 264-3061.