Warm it up: January is soup month

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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.

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:

  • Brown meat in a little olive oil over medium-high heat.  Remove meat.
  • 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.
  • Use about 1/4 cup stock or wine to deglaze the stock pot, creating a rich and flavorful starter for your soup.
  • 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.
  • Finally, add delicate herbs or greens during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Use Produce That Is In Season:

January seasonal produce picks include vegetables that are perfect for hearty winter soups.  Serve seasonal fruit for a healthy dessert.

Vegetables: root vegetables-rutabagas, turnips, carrots, parsnips, mushrooms, celery, onions, tubers

Fruit: citrus-oranges, grapefruit, tangelos, avocado, dried fruits

Fast Prep. Soup:  Brown meat.  Add all soup ingredients into a slow cooker and cook four or more hours.

Simple Soups:  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.


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.

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.

Satisfying Soup Recipes

Tomato-Cheese Ravioli Soup

Makes 4 servings


1 (14-1/2 oz.) can Meijer diced tomatoes

2 cups Meijer chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 tsp. dried McCormick Italian seasoning

3 cups frozen Meijer cheese ravioli or fresh cheese tortellini

1 small zucchini, sliced

1 tsp. McCormick ground pepper


1.       Combine tomatoes, broth and Italian seasoning in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. 

2.       Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.  Add ravioli, zucchini, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook covered on low for 7 to 8 minutes or until pasta and zucchini are tender.

3.       Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese if desired and serve.

 Nutrition Information (per serving): 317 calories, 6g fat, 2g saturated fat, 39 mg cholesterol, 653 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 15g protein                                                              

Serve with:  Whole Grain Baguette and Dole Bag Salad

Black Bean and Mushroom Soup

Serves 6


1 Tbsp. Meijer olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 (8 ounce) pkg. fresh sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. McCormick dried thyme

1/8 tsp. McCormick ground pepper

2 cups Meijer Naturals vegetable stock

1 (14.5 ounce) can Meijer crushed tomatoes (do not drain)

2 cups fresh baby spinach

1 cup reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained


 1. Add olive oil to a large stock pot and heat over medium heat. Add onion, mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and pepper; cook about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, spinach, black beans and chickpeas; bring to boiling. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. 

Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 150, Fat 2g, Cholesterol 0g, Sodium 418mg, Carbohydrates 23g, Fiber 7g,  Protein 10g

Optional: Brown 2 cups sliced smoked turkey sausage with onions and mushrooms.

Serve with:  Dole Salad

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