Soup season is officially here! Soup can be an incredibly nourishing and fast meal during winter. It can also be a fabulous “vehicle” to load up on antioxidant, vitamin and mineral rich plant foods
Here I am sharing some key ingredients we can include in our soups to boost their nutritional profile and heath promoting properties.
Keep reading to also find 3 superfood soup ideas below!
A great addition not only from a flavour perspective but also health benefits. Miso is made from fermented soybeans and usually an added grain such as rice of barley. Due to the fact it is fermented, it offers a source of “good bacteria” along with many vitamins and minerals. Miso is salty, so a little bit goes a long way and the bacteria are also heat sensitive. This means trying not to boil the stock.
All mushrooms are incredibly nutrient dense. However, during winter shiitake are a particularly good pick. Specifically, shiitake have been traditionally used for their immune stimulating properties and research has found daily consumption of shiitake mushrooms can support immune function and reduce inflammation. Add shiitake mushrooms to soups and broths alongside ginger and garlic for added antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Cannellini beans not only offer protein but they also contain resistant starch. This is a type of starch, which we do not digest and instead it travels straight to our colon to feed bacteria. Giving bacteria fuel to thrive is an important part of taking care of gut health. Cannellini beans are a great way to thicken soups and create creaminess.
A popular pick for soup and for good reason. Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C and fibre and is well known for its sulforaphane content. Sulforaphane helps to promote the body’s ability to detox.
Turmeric must get a mention here. The active constituent “curcumin” has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, supportive of immunity, not to mention overall wellbeing. It also adds a delicious flavour to soups.
Garlic can really lift the flavour of soup while boosting the antioxidant content. If using garlic as an antibacterial, once cut, let it sit for 10 mins to help activate the compound ‘allicini’ which possesses the antibacterial properties.
Often soups call for grains and I recommend trying freekeh! Freekeh is a green grain harvested from durum wheat and then roasted which gives it a slightly nutty taste. It is not a gluten-free grain. Freekeh is high in fibre and protein compared to some other grains. It is also a source of zinc, iron, copper, calcium, magnesium and Contains carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which have antioxidant activities in the body and are beneficial to eye health
Soup toppers can also be a way to boost the nutritional profile of soups. Some of my favourites include:
- Toasted nuts/seeds
- Roasted chickpeas
- Shredded nori (seaweed)
- Homemade wholemeal/sourdough croutons
- My superfood pesto (recipe below)
This is a fantastic soup topper, which adds a nice flavour and creaminess.
½ bunch basil
½ bunch parsley
1 cup kale leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup brazil nuts
1/3 cup parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
1-2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, add extra oil if needed and adjust seasoning to suit. Store in the fridge for a few days or freeze.
Ingredients to avoid
There are certain common soup ingredients, which can detract from the health benefits of soup. Here I am sharing some of those and what to use instead:
- Stocks and flavouring agents containing MSG, artificial flavours, colours, thickening agents – look for a stock which is mostly just chicken/beef/veg, water, natural flavouring such as veggies and herb extracts.
- Fried noodles – made from refined flour and high in saturated fat. If you want a crunch, replace with roasted chickpeas homemade croutons, or nuts/seeds.
- Cream – has a high calorie content and is also high in saturated fats. Try blending cannellini beans or nuts into the soup to create creaminess. A spoonful of tahini is also a nice twist.
3 Superfood Soup Ideas
Roasted Cauliflower and Macadamia Soup
Pre: 15 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes
2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tbsp. smoked paprika
½ tbsp. cumin, ground
½ cup roasted macadamia nuts
250g tinned cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1½ L chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the cauliflower and garlic on the tray. Toss with smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil, mix well. Cook in the oven for 30min until the cauliflower is soft and slightly golden.
In a saucepan, place the roasted veggies, macadamia nuts, cannellini beans, lemon juice and stock. Simmer on a low-medium heat until warmed through.
Blend using a stick blender until desired consistency is reached. Season to taste.
Carrot, Miso and Turmeric Soup
Pre: 10 minutes
Cooking: 35 minutes
2 cups carrot, peeled and chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tbsp. ginger, ground
½ tbsp. coriander, ground
½ tbsp. turmeric, ground
pinch red chilli flakes
1L miso stock (1 tbsp. miso paste to 250mL hot water)
200mL coconut milk
½ bunch coriander, washed finely chopped
½ tbsp. soy sauce
Preheat oven to 180C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Add carrots to the pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40min until the carrots are tender and well roasted.
In a large saucepan, add olive oil and onions, cook for approx. 5 min, trying not to burn, before adding the garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric and chilli flakes, continue to cook until the onions are soft.
Add the cooked carrots to the pan, mix well before adding the miso stock and coconut milk. Simmer on a low-medium heat for 20min.
Add fresh coriander to the pan, blend using a stick blender until desired consistency is reached, season to taste using soy sauce.
Serve with extra fresh coriander on top.
Shiitake, Miso & Tofu Soup
2-3 tbsp. miso pate
1-2 tbsp. ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
½ bunch coriander, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
200g tofu, cut into cubes
sesame oil, to taste (optional)
In a small saucepan, add water, miso paste, ginger and chilli, bring to gentle simmer.
Add mushrooms and tofu and cook for approx. 5min until mushrooms are soft and tofu is warmed through.
Add coriander leaves before taking off the heat and season to taste.
Pour into bowls and drizzle with sesame oil.