Mid-winter is a great time to simplify your diet. Start enjoying seasonal spring food and try to include at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily intake. Focus on meals comprised of 2/3 vegetables, 1/3 protein, and 1/3 whole grains.
A perfect way to simplify is to make soup. It strengthens immunity and soothes the winter-weary spirit. Here are some tips to cook ahead and be flexible with this delicious one-pot wonder.
Protein: Next time you cook protein like beans, tempeh, or tofu, make a double batch for soup. Perhaps you boiled pinto beans for tacos — whatever you have left over will make the perfect addition to your soup.
Grains: Did you eat millet, rice, buckwheat, or oats recently? All of these make a great add-in to enrich soups and offer filling fiber. If you don't have any left over, oats (yes, savory oats are delicious!) cook quickly and are terrific in soup.
Vegetables: Have leftover cooked broccoli, kale, or carrots? Blend veggies and add them to your broth! Not only does this put leftovers to good use, but it's a great way to sneak added nutrients into your meal without your kids even knowing they are eating veggies.
Slow Cooker Magic
Let soup cook during the day! Slow cookers are helpful: simply throw some ingredients in before you leave the house and by the time you get home you'll have a delicious stew waiting to be served.
Try this general guideline: three parts liquid (try vegetable broth), one part protein, one part starch (beans or whole grains) and tons of vegetables. Layer them with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and raw grains on the bottom, raw vegetables and spices/salt in the middle, cooked protein on top - all covered with liquid.
To prepare slow cooker soup ingredients ahead, set aside an hour on your day off to divide out beans, potatoes, veggies, whole grains, and anything else you want in your soups into re-sealable freezer bags. On busy days, you can simply dump the bag in the slow cooker on your way out the door in the morning.
Mung Bean Vegetable Soup
- 1 cup cooked mung beans (about 1/2 cup dry beans)
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
- 2 large yellow onions
- 4 stalks celery
- ½ inch fresh ginger root
- 1 turnip, chopped
- 1 sweet potato, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 bunch collard greens, chopped
- 1 teaspoon each: garam masala and coriander seed powder
- ½ Tablespoon each: cumin seed powder and turmeric root powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish of cilantro if desired
- Soak beans at breakfast and cook in slow cooker overnight (from 6pm to 6am for example).
- Rinse and drain in the morning.
- To the bottom of the slow cooker, add oil and rice.
- Add all the vegetables.
- Add spices.
- Add cooked mung beans.
- Cover with 5 cups stock (chicken or vegetable).
- Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1-inch fresh, chopped ginger root
- Salt and pepper to taste (1 teaspoon each)
- 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, coriander, cumin and thyme
- 4 large zucchini, chopped into crescents
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- In a slow cooker, add oil, onions, ginger, and spices.
- Add zucchini.
- Cover with 3 cups water or stock.
- Cook for 6 hours on low heat.
- Wash and chop 1 bunch basil. Add to soup, stir, and turn off heat.
- Blend soup with immersion blender or in food processor.
Writer Lisa Mase is a culinary medicine coach, food writer, translator, and folk herbalist living in Vermont. For articles and recipes, visit Lisa at www.harmonizedcookery.com.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.