The combination of cold, damp weather and many seasonal bugs flying around makes us feel the need to serve up some deliciously tasty, healthy and warming soups.
There are plenty of souper (!) ingredients you can add to really give your health and nutrition a boost.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top three recipes for some of the healthiest soups around!
Chicken broth for immunity
The immune system is under pressure at this time of year but chicken broth can really help protect the body from colds and flu that are so prevalent right now.
Primarily, the immune system needs plenty of quality protein; immunoglobulins and antibodies that form a large part of the immune system are protein based. Plus, various research studies have shown that chicken soup uprates the production of infection-fighting white blood cells, called neutrophils.
The main ingredients for this recipe, are, of course, chicken, plus sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery, parsley, onions and some salt and pepper for seasoning. Sweet potatoes and carrots are loaded with Vitamin C and beta-carotene that’s converted into immune-boosting vitamin A as needed. Parsley is great for liver detoxification. Onions contain quercetin which is a natural anti histamine which can help fight off the sneezes, and garlic contains plenty of immune-boosting compounds.
One of the best reasons for making chicken broth is that it’s so simple. The healthiest way of cooking it is to boil up the bones from a cooked chicken for the stock base. You will then benefit from the collagen and minerals stored in the bones as well as enjoying a tastier stock. Simply fry off the vegetables and add everything to the pot. It’s also a recipe that can be put into the slow cooker in the morning and it will be ready for later in the day.
Boost your energy with bean soup
At this busy time of year, we need as much energy as possible! This is where a chunky mixed bean soup can really boost energy levels. Beans are high in energy-boosting B vitamins and protein. For an additional boost add some black beans. They are packed with antioxidants which support the immune system.
The easiest way of cooking mixed bean soup is to use a couple of tins of mixed beans and add plenty of seasoning and flavours. Think onions, carrots, celery, garlic and cumin. These are a great combination, adding additional nutrients and flavour, and are all foods that are plentiful at this time of year. Whilst cumin really adds some zest to the soup, it’s also a great spice for the immune system and also helps digestion.
This hearty soup makes a really good lunch time dish as it will boost energy levels throughout the afternoon, and will help avoid the 3 pm dip. Beans are low on the glycaemic index as well which means they deliver energy in a slow and sustained way – exactly what we need!
Soothe digestion with broccoli soup
Rich, festive food and maybe a few too many glasses of your favourite tipple at this time of year can often leave the digestion feeling slightly jaded. Foods high in saturated fats or sugar-laden cakes and pastries cause inflammation throughout the digestive tract and can also makes digestion sluggish, leading to constipation.
Broccoli really is a super food and has amazing anti-inflammatory properties. It is also high in fibre, so it helps keep everything moving through the digestive tract.
Broccoli soup couldn’t be easier to prepare and needs just a few ingredients; garlic, chicken stock, olive oil and of course, broccoli are all that’s required. Garlic has so many health benefits which is the reason it’s been used medicinally for thousands of years. It’s also high in antioxidants which means it will help dampen down any inflammation within the digestive tract.
Simply fry the garlic, add the broccoli and stock and cook until really soft. This soup is definitely best put through the blender to make a thick, warming and most importantly, soothing soup.
So why not treat yourself to some health-boosting delicious soups this season – they’ll also make a great lunch for a big family this Christmas.
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