Happy Monday everyone! If you live in the D.C. area like me, September is the anniversary of many moments. It’s when children go back to school, when everyone seems to get some crazy allergy-induced cold/virus, and, most of all, when the DMV’s bipolar weather begins all over again. After a crazy hot weekend, today’s chilly weather makes it seem like autumn has already begun. That’s why I’ve created a perfect gluten-free, vegan, and paleo vegetable soup for fall that’s simple but delicious.
The Beauty of Soup in The Colder Months
If you’re trying to eat healthy, stay warm this winter, or a combination of both, soup has got its name written all over you. Did you know it’s natural to crave more comfort foods like soups and stews in the winter? During colder seasons, a couple of things happen. First, your body has to fight harder to keep you warm, so you might crave richer foods that are more calorie dense (yes, I’m talking to you macaroni and cheese). This isn’t to say that your metabolism is soaring and you have license to eat whatever you want (which is what some people end of doing). The colder weather probably yields at most an extra caloric expenditure of 50-100 calories, which really isn’t all that much and shouldn’t justify a late afternoon cookie binge.
Another reason you might be craving warm foods in the colder months has to do with eating seasonally. There’s a reason that salad you loved all summer now tastes totally blah during fall and winter. Besides the ingredients not being super fresh, our ancestors probably didn’t have access to a ton of fresh vegetables in the winter. Instead, they probably subsisted on root vegetables, fermented vegetables, dried vegetables (i.e. dried parsley and cilantro), and other natural ways of preserving produce that don’t rely on canning or freezing. Remember that cooking vegetables in a slow simmer like a soup is just as healthy as eating lots of raw salads. There are even studies showing that cooking various veggies like carrots actually increases their Vitamin A content. Adding soup to lunch or dinner is a great way to sneak in more veggies for added vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Tips for Making Paleo Vegetable Soup (Or ANY Soup in General!)
There are a ton of ways that you can make soup a friendly and healthy part of your eating plan. Even though today’s recipe is a paleo vegetable soup, most of these tips and tricks apply to gluten-free soups, vegan soups, etc.
- Pureed Soups Are AHHMAYYZING–Nothing is more comforting in the fall and winter months than a cup of warm and comforting pureed soup. I’ve noticed that vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, and potato work especially well for pureed soups, although you’re welcome to use any vegetable you like. Pureeing also makes tomato soup taste especially decadent. You can use a hand held emulsion blender, but I personally love using my Vitamix.
- Single Serve That Sh*t–Have you ever made a soup that you eat religiously for a few days, but for some reason there’s always a little bit left at the end of the week? You can eliminate this problem by portioning off your soup into single serve portions. Doing this ahead of time not only takes the guess work out of how much soup to make, but you’ve easily got something sleek and chic to eat for lunch or heat up for dinner.
- Your Freezer Is Your Best Friend–By now, you should know that I’m obsessed with freezing extra portions of food. I know some of you might still be a little apprehensive to the practice, but I find that freezing foods saves me time and money. Soup is one of the best foods to freeze. You can easily take it out of the freezer before heading to work in the morning and by the time you come home all it takes is a quick reheating on the stove (or microwave) to have a healthy and delicious dinner. Bonus points if you follow tip #2 and freeze single serve portions of your favorite soups!
- Go Organic When You Can–I realize not everyone can afford organic foods. I even struggle myself and have to prioritize which foods I want to eat organic and which foods I can do without. If it’s one food you purchase organically for soup, make sure it’s your broth. Conventional broths are loaded with MSG, additives, and other nasty chemicals you don’t want to cook your vegetables in. Look for low-sodium varieties when you can so you can control the sodium.