Meet The Soup. Just a good old brothy vegetable soup. And about as close to a diet as I get. At least three seasons of the year, it’s a regular on the dinner table. This is a solid solution to a fresh, healthy, low fat and low calorie dinner routine.
I don’t like the word diet. I feel that if I eat plenty of lean meats and vegetables or big steaming bowls of brothy vegetable soup, then I can guilt-free splurge on a cheeseburger and some of those creamy, buttery, chocolaty, casseroly things on the weekend. After all, food for me is a celebratory event. One that connects us with family and friends. Weekends shouldn’t be fraught with guilt…let’s hear it for the joy of indulgent food.
This soup is the easiest thing in the world to make, just keep that pantry stocked with a few key ingredients and you’ve got an easy and healthy dinner…and lots of leftovers. Those key ingredients I’m talking about are tomato juice, canned tomatoes, containers of chicken or vegetable broth, packages of frozen vegetables and canned beans. Seems like I always have some fresh vegetables that need to be used up, so on Monday evenings, The Soup is an easy fix for me.
I keep a jar of dehydrated vegetables in the pantry. I found them at Whole Foods in the bulk section. And I always have a mason jar full of my soup “spice mix for bean soup” on hand. I’ve mentioned it my Dried Bean Soup article, so just click that link for the spice mix recipe.
I really like some protein in The Soup, so for the photo above, I added some cooked Healthy Chicken Meatballs that were in the freezer. You could easily add some cut up chunks raw chicken breast or lean steak to satisfy that chewy craving. Whatever combinations strike your fancy, let’s get started working with the choices below.
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 8-10 cups liquid a combination of your choice of :
- 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 cups tomatoey liquid such as V8, tomato juice, diced fresh tomatoes, or canned tomatoes pureed chunky.
- 1 cup red or white wine
- Herbs and spices:
- 1 tablespoon soup spice mix
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 cup dehydrated soup vegetables.
- 1 - 2 onions chopped
- 1 tablespoon of your favorite savory seasoning sauce. I prefer Pickapeppa. Worcestershire and soy sauce will also work.
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce.
- Salt and pepper
- 1 - 2, 16 ounce package frozen vegetables. And of course you can use fresh.
- If you'd like to add protein lean meats or canned beans such as black, pinto, white or red.
In a large soup pot that's been heated over medium high burner, add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add your selection of fresh chopped vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, etc.) Sautee untill just turning soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add your broth of choice and the tomatoes or tomato juice.
Add the dehydrated vegetables, the soup spice mix, and seasoning sauce and the hot auce.. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
Drop in the bags of frozen vegetables and protein, (if using). Add the wine and turn down to medium low and simmer partially covered until vegetables are tender and meat is cooked through. About 25 - 30 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings. If it's too tomatoey add a tablespoon of sugar. Serve immediately.
Because The Soup builds on the so-called “unlimited” vegetables choices that so many diet plans encourage, it also works well if you follow a low fat routine. It’s a strategy for eating as many of the foods you like as it takes to fill you up without risking fat-gram or calorie count overload. And It’s bursting with flavor.
Familiarity can breed contempt so make it one time with beans and one time with chicken, serve it one day over pasta with a little grated cheese on top or on another accompanied with toast, tortillas or rice. Eat as many servings as it takes to satisfy your appetite.
Here’s a suggestion for fresh vegetables to use in The Soup. A comination of 4 – 6 cups:
- green beans, stems and tails removed, sliced cross-wise
- zucchini or yellow squash, washed, split lengthwise and then sliced into chunks
- celery ribs, leaves included, sliced into chunks
- green or red cabbage, core removed and sliced into ribbons
- greens, spinach or chard sliced into ribbons
- carrots, cleaned, split lengthwise and sliced
- butternut squash, peeled and cubed… the possibilities are endless
Not only do you have a satisfying meal, but healthy as well. Not only do you get to have a lot of it…it is guilt free, and good.
I am proud to say that the soup is is as close as I get to a diet. Some oatmeal for breakfast, raw almonds, pistachios, cashews and fruit for snacks, fresh vegetable salads for lunch and I feel pretty good with my routine.
Since it’s the beginning of the year and so many of us are looking for healthy eating options, I wanted to get my first soup photographed for this post. Going forward, check back, as I’ll add some more photos, and more options as outlined below.
Want to make The Soup Mexican Style:
- Saute 1 – 2 sliced jalapenos, 1 carrot cleaned and sliced, 1 rib celery and 1/2 onion chopped
- add 2 cloves chopped garlic until fragrant
- add the combination of liquids you’ve selected
- ditch the Soup Spice Mix and add 1 tablespoon cumin, 2 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- For vegetables choose a combination of green cabbage cut into thin ribbons 2 – 3 cups of sliced yellow squash and some sliced green beans
- Want some protein for the Mexican version? Add a can of rinsed black beans, cubed chicken or shrimp
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup canned chopped tomatoes with juice
- 1 cup white wine
- for your seasonings: 1 teaspoon each dried tarragon, thyme, savory, marjoram, sage, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 medium carrots, cleaned and sliced, 1 cup domestic white mushrooms, sliced, a parsnip, cleaned and sliced, celery root, cleaned and thin sliced, 2 cups fresh spinach, 2 cups frozen peas …
See where I’m going with this? The possibilities and versions, spices, lean meats, beans are endless.
The Soup…It’s what’s for Dinner.