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Soups: The Ultimate Comfort Food

Soups: The Ultimate Comfort Food

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If your eyes aren’t welling up and your nose isn’t running, you’re simply not getting your money’s worth from winter cooking. This is the season we go from buying individual onions to buying bags of onions. The season we use the big pot, eat with the big spoon, and noisily slurp what’s left in the bottom of the mug. This is the season of soup, and in New England, it is as essential to winter as snow falling from the sky and crack-of-dawn school cancellations.

Soups are perfect one-dish meals, quintessential heart-warming bowls of goodness, and so much more. They are an opportunity, an invitation, even a prescription where all of your needs can be met in one big pot. Fill them with anti-inflammatory prebiotics like garlic and onions, high protein legumes, high fiber and nutritionally packed root vegetables, and alkalinizing cruciferous vegetables. And then, perhaps most important of all, the stock.

A great vegetable stock can be a meal in and of itself, so before I share a delicious soup recipe, here are three approaches to making nutrient-dense delicious vegetable stock.

1. Scrap Soup requires no trip to the grocery store and won’t
increase your budget even a dime. Simply wash your produce and as you trim off ends, skins, and stalks, place them in a sealable 4-cup container in the freezer. When the container is full, place the contents in a pot over high heat, add just enough
water to barely cover the solids, and simmer 1 hour. Cool, strain, and freeze stock until ready to use.

2. Kombu Broth is a simple, mineral-rich broth made by placing a stick of kombu seaweed (found in the macrobiotic section of your natural food store) in hot water and letting it soak and reconstitute. In less than an hour, you’ll have an umami-rich broth you can use as stock in a variety of soups and stews.

3. Immune Boosting Stock is as easy as soaking a slice of dried astragalus root in hot water and then using that water as stock. For added immune support, simmer astragalus with a handful of goji berries, a quartered onion (skin and all), a couple of dried shiitake mushrooms, and a few generous grinds of Himalayan salt and black pepper.
4. The Quick and Easy is essential in every winter pantry, because sometimes we don’t have the time or energy to even think about the great options previously mentioned. Set yourself up for success by keeping your favorite shelf-stable vegetable stock in your pantry at all times. This isn’t cheating, it’s enabling you to make a delicious and healthy meal with whatever you have on hand—a chopped onion, a variety of vegetables and herbs, a can of beans, and there it is—a hearty, healthy, meal in a pot, made in just minutes.

Drink your soup slowly, let it warm your heart and soul, and make extra, because this is one leftover that will taste even better tomorrow!

Parsnip, Kale, and Apple Soup

Parsnip Kale and Apple Soup recipe

When it’s 5:00 pm and I’m just starting to think about making dinner, I long for a meal I can make out of ingredients that I always have on hand, and this recipe qualifies. For heartier appetites, try adding a can of cooked adzuki or cannellini beans.

  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric root (or 1 tablespoon ground turmeric)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tart apple (such as Macoun or Granny Smith), peeled and grated
  • 3 small parsnips, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (1/8–1/4-inch thick)
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups packed chopped kale

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Place pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt coconut oil and sauté shallots 2 minutes (or until just soft). Add turmeric, garlic, and mirin and sauté 3 minutes. Add apple, parsnips, and carrots and sauté 3 minutes longer (parsnips will start to soften and turn yellow from turmeric). Add stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Tear or chop kale into bite-size pieces, add to soup, and stir until wilted (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and serve topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Terry Walters is the best-selling cookbook author of Clean Food, Clean Start and Eat Clean Live Well. She is a James Beard Foundation Award finalist, recipient of the Nautilus Gold and Silver Book Awards, and recipient of the World Gourmand “Second Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World” and “Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the United States” Awards. Her new book, Nourish, is soon to be released.

Terry is at the forefront of the clean eating lifestyle movement. She is a highly sought-after educator, consultant, health coach, and speaker who shares her clean food approach through virtual and in-person cooking classes with students all over the world. Her work inspires and empowers positive change for our health and the health of our environment.

Terry is an avid runner, skier and hiker—living what she teaches; doing her best to embrace good health for herself, her family, her community, and the environment. Follow her on Instagram at:
@TerryWaltersCooks or on Facebook at: CLEAN FOOD.