Enjoy a Comforting Bowl of Soup in January & Beyond

Soup group photo 1200px.jpg

By: Kayla Colgrove, MS, RDN, ACSM-CPT, Extension Educator in Lancaster County

Do you enjoy eating soup any time of the year, or do you tend to eat it more on cold days or when you are not feeling well? No matter the time of year, soup is a versatile food that can be served hot or cold, as a starter or a main course and can be made with a variety of ingredients. Soup is often loaded with nutrient-rich vegetables, lean proteins and healthy carbs. It can provide you with essential vitamins and minerals, boost your immune system and help you maintain a healthy weight. Soup can be a great addition to your diet. January is National Soup Month, a great time to make your favorite soup!

There are many varieties of soup to choose from. A hot bowl of chicken noodle soup is soothing, comforting and nourishing. It is a go–to dish when people are feeling under the weather. One of my favorite ways to eat chili is to pair it with a cinnamon roll, which is a beloved dish in Nebraska and other Midwest states. Another favorite is pairing tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. If you are looking to get your daily dose of vegetables, choose minestrone, butternut squash, carrot or broccoli soup. Whether you prefer a hearty vegetable soup, a spicy chili or a creamy chowder, there is a soup for every taste.

Soup is an easy and convenient way to prepare a meal that can be served as a side dish to a main course. Sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes are great pairings with soup. Here are some tips for making soup:
1. The base of the soup is the foundation of its flavor. You can use chicken or vegetable broth, or even make your own by simmering vegetables, herbs and meat in water.
2. Adding spices and herbs can take your soup to the next level. Try using herbs like basil, thyme or rosemary, or use spices like cumin, coriander or paprika.
3. Add rice or noodles to make the soup more filling and satisfying. You can use any type you like, such as wild rice, long grain white rice, brown rice, egg noodles, rice noodles or udon noodles.
4. Some soups are best made by simmering them on the stove for hours, while others can be made in a slow cooker or multi-cooker. Choose a cooking method that suits the type of soup you're making.
5. A garnish can add flavor to your soup. Try topping with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, a sprinkle of chopped herbs, cheese or a handful of croutons or crackers.
6. Make a large batch of soup and enjoy some for another meal. Plan to eat refrigerated soup within 3 to 4 days or freeze it for later. Avoid letting soup sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Do not put a large pot of hot soup directly into your refrigerator. To speed cooling, transfer soup to shallow containers or chill it in an ice or cold water bath before refrigerating. When serving soup a second time, reheat it until it's steaming hot throughout, at least 165°F.