Soup it up in the new year

Tips for creating healthy, nutritious dishes

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Detroit -
A warm, comforting pot of soup fills your home with memory making aromas.  For centuries families have been making soups. Traditionally, the purpose of soup was to decrease cost and waste by creating a great meal while using up leftovers from your refrigerator and pantry.  A delicious, comforting pot of soup offers so many benefits for you and your family says Tina Miller, Meijer Healthy Living Advisor.
Benefits of Soup:
Healthy Weight: A lower-calorie vegetable broth soup, especially when added at the beginning of the meal, can help you lose weight.  Soup at the start of a meal makes you feel fuller faster, so that you eat less during lunch or dinner.
Researchers from Penn State University found that when study participants ate a first course of soup before lunch they reduced their total calorie intake by 20 per cent, compared with those who did not begin the meal with soup.  The meal-time calorie reduction from consuming soup can lead to weight loss without feelings of deprivation.
Watch out for cream soups! To promote weight loss, the researchers stressed the soup must be low-calorie stock based soup, not soups made with heavy creams.  When preparing cream soups at home, use lowfat milk in place of cream to reduce fat and calories.
Fast and Healthy:  You can easily put a variety of ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning and come home to a hot and hearty meal.  Healthy soups are made with a minimum of salt and fat, and a maximum dose of flavorful herbs, spices and vegetables.   
Eating soups can easily help you meet your daily recommendation of 5 cups vegetables and fruit each day.  Lighten up cream soups by substituting reduced fat milk or evaporated milk for cream.  
Budget Friendly:  Less expensive, tougher cuts of meat often make the best soups!  Simmering tough cuts helps to tenderize meats and adds flavor and body to soups.  
Use in-season root vegetables, frozen mixed vegetables and lower sodium canned vegetables.  The addition of canned tomatoes will boost flavor and help to tenderize meats as well.  
Like vegetables, the addition of beans (dried or canned) will boost nutrition in your soup.  Beans are inexpensive and add protein, vitamins, minerals and essential antioxidants.  
Freeze leftover soups to have on hand as a quick and easy meal on hectic days.  You can also freeze soups in individual serving sizes to reheat in the microwave for lunch.
Sensational Soup Making Tips
Stock: The best soup starts with a good stock.  Keep quality stock on hand, such as Meijer Naturals, or make your own.  When using a packaged or canned stock, pay attention to sodium content and avoid adding additional salt to your soup recipe.  
Step by Step:  When making soup, "layer flavors" for best results.  Follow these steps to create a flavorful pot of soup:
1.  Brown meat in a little olive oil over medium-high heat.  Remove meat.
2.  You can add vegetables right to the soup stock and simmer. However, to add another layer of flavor, consider sautéing your vegetables first. Add vegetables to the same stock pot used for your meat and sauté with a little salt and pepper, just until the vegetables wilt.  Remove from pot and set aside.
3.  Use about 1/4 cup stock or wine to deglaze the stock pot, creating a rich and flavorful starter for your soup.
4.  Add your stock and vegetables to the pot and bring it to a gentle boil; reduce to a simmer.  Add remaining soup ingredients, like pasta, rice or beans, along with the browned meat. Season with pepper and other dried spices.
5.  Finally, add delicate herbs or greens during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Fast Prep. Soup:  Brown meat.  Add all soup ingredients into a slow cooker and cook four or more hours.  Set your slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready to enjoy after a long day at work.  Balance out your meal with whole grain bread and a green salad.
Simple Soups:  Cheat a bit when you're in a hurry.  You can pump up the nutrition value of any canned soup by simply adding frozen vegetables.  For example, add 1 cup Meijer frozen mixed vegetables to one can healthier canned soup.