Winter's here, and so is comfort food.
But there's a stymieing myth that pervades the landscape about what some consider the “ultimate” comfort food… "Too hard to make at home, takes too much time, something your grandma did but you never learned how or don't have time for…"
Allow me to reveal a closely held secret.
It's easy, economical and delicious – and is not rocket science.
The Best Food to Chase the Chills Away
What tastes better than coming home on a bitterly cold day to relax with a steaming hot bowl of delicious homemade soup?
It may not be “Chicken Soup for the Soul” – but it is chicken soup for the body. For your body. For your health. A great way to chase the chills away.
Versatile, flavorful and easily digested… So many benefits.
Can Eating Soup Help Maintain a Healthy Weight?
Soup can be a very quick dinner, or an appetizer which may quench your desire and consumption of higher calorie entrees. Many claim soup can help maintain a healthy weight.
A leading Ph.D. is one of them. Conducting research at a well-known university, she found that students who ate chicken and rice soup instead of chicken and rice casserole, consumed less calories and still reported being equally satiated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends broth-based soups to replace dry snacks like crackers and chips, because they fill you up with more nutrients and less calories.
Soup may not cause you to magically lose weight, but it does have the power to help you eat less food and consume more nutrients – provided you choose the right kinds of soups.
How Soup Boosts Your Nutritional Status
Soup differs as wildly in nutritional content as it does in varieties.
You can consume low-calorie soups like vegetable soup, or high-calorie ones like chowders – and a host of options in between.
Clear, broth-based soup usually has lower fat and higher vitamin content than cream-based soups do. For example, one cup of mushroom bisque soup typically has a staggering 400 calories compared to one cup of broth-based minestrone at 112 calories.
Apply a similar principle and eat a bowl of soup as an entire meal, which incidentally, is an easy meal. The soup's liquid has more volume than a 3-oz steak, so your stomach feels more satiated than it does with steak. (And you've eaten a fraction of the calories.)
Also, the standard daily recommendation of veggies and fruit is 8 or more servings per day, which most people do not consume. That's 4½ cups.
Soup lends itself well to adding a wide variety of veggies, or even juicing them and using them as your broth base. It's very easy to throw some spinach, kale or sea veggies into your soup in the last moments before serving, to spruce up its nutrient content.
Adding vegetables and certain beans can give you vitamins A and C, potassium, folate and fiber. Carrots add beta-carotene, and tomatoes add lycopene. Meat, chicken and fish obviously add protein – an especially important element in soup served as a main dish.
You may find that you're able to 'hide' nutrients in soup for children (of all ages) who are picky eaters – a sneaky way to boost their nutrient intake.
Primary Nutritional Principles to Consider With Soup
Principle #1: The clearer the soup, the fewer the calories.
Principle #2: The calories in your soup should come from the solid food in the broth, not from the liquid portion of the soup.
Principle #3: Adding copious amounts of vegetables boosts vitamin content and can sneak into the mouths of picky eaters.
Principle #4: Eating soup either as an appetizer or a main dish can help maintain a healthy weight, especially if eating vegetable-laden, broth-based soups – and can make you feel satisfied with less calories.
The Varieties Are Endless
Soup lends itself to your creativity, budget, personal taste and more. When you see a soup recipe, you can nearly always substitute a different vegetable for a listed one. So, you say you hate cauliflower? Just add broccoli instead.
Substitution and creativity can go far with soups. This also works when you're half way done and discover you're missing an ingredient. No need to run to the store… just substitute something else.
By the same token, if you have half a refrigerator of leftovers to use up but not enough to serve a “real meal,” combine them and make them into soup to make a meal of it. You may have just saved $10 or $20 of food that's otherwise ignored until it's spoiled, throwing your hard earned money down the drain along with the food.
Some people even keep a container in their freezer just to stash leftovers, and when the container is full, they add it to broth and voila – they have homemade soup and no leftover waste.
Another way to save – especially suited for busy people – is to make a large pot of soup on the weekend, freeze part of it for another week, and use the remainder for a couple dinners and lunches for the upcoming week. It eliminates the temptation to go out and buy fast food because there's nothing ready.
So your wallet benefits from the savings, and your health benefits from healthier eating.
To save even more, you can make your own broth. It's not hard, and isn't as time consuming as you've been led to believe. You can experiment and personalize it to what you and your family enjoy. It creates a wonderful aroma as it cooks too.
Basic Bone Broth, as Easy as 1, 2, 3…
Thaw 2 to 3 pounds of beef soup bones or shanks, or ham shank, or a whole chicken with bones. Add a gallon or more of filtered water, 1½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 1 to 2 bay leaves.
Season with your choice of the following (or follow your own inclination): garlic cloves, carrots, celery, onion, leeks, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme and sage. Adding ¼ to ½ cup of vinegar or cooking wine can help pull minerals out of the meat bones into the broth.
[Note: You can make a vegetarian version by skipping the meat step and just adding the vegetables to the water, and simmer at least an hour.]
This can easily be done in an evening, letting it simmer while you do other things. It only takes a few minutes of actual prep time.
Your Ingredient Choices Make the Difference Between Mediocre and Great
You likely already know the difference between a small boutique restaurant that uses quality ingredients from local and organic farmers, and large chain restaurants where pre-packaged and reheated food is the norm. If you've ever eaten at one after the other, the hands-down winner is the one with the freshest ingredients prepared for you that day.
Follow suit when selecting ingredients for your soup. My advice is to purchase as much of your food as possible from local and organic farmers. This means your meat or soup bones, your vegetables and any milk products used in your soup (although I do not recommend highly heated milk).
You will save a lot of money, not to mention maintaining control over your ingredient quality, by making your own broth instead of paying inflated prices for liquids shipped across the country which often contain MSG and other harmful additives.
A good broth defines a chef as much as a great sauce does. That means you'll be using and experimenting with seasonings also. Buy the best you can afford, preferably not irradiated. Realize that a little seasoning goes a long way, so it may be very much worth the investment for higher quality.
And one more thing…
Make Sure the #1 Ingredient Is Really Healthy
What's the highest-volume ingredient when making your soup broth?
Water, of course.
But did you know?
If you use ordinary water, your broth may not taste as good – and you could also be elevating your health risk.
You see, chlorine is used in municipal water supplies to kill hazardous bacteria in your water and in the pipes that bring it to your home. Strong evidence indicates that the disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that come from chlorine can be far more harmful to your health than the chlorine itself.
DBPs form when chlorine interacts with organic matter, resulting in what's called trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), resulting in potential health issues.
These DBPs can be up to 1,000 times more toxic than the chlorine itself. And unfortunately the simmering process in making your broth doesn't necessarily remove the DBPs. It may even end up concentrating them more.
Therefore, I recommend you use a quality water filter for your drinking and cooking water, to remove DBPs, chlorine, fluoride and heavy metals.
Why ruin a perfectly great pot of soup with water that can hurt you?
If you want more information on water filters, just use the search engine on my site.
This Is the Soup I Recommend You Avoid
I do not recommend eating packaged foods. Put simply, doing so gives you no control over the ingredients. Or the quality of the ingredients.
For example, nearly every meat soup is prepared with factory farmed meats, complete with antibiotics and potential dangers.
The veggies and other ingredients are probably far from organic, sprayed with harsh pesticides you'd prefer to avoid. And you don't even know how fresh they were when cast into this mix. Plus, conventional milk or cream based soup is likely to be contaminated with rBGH.
What's more, canned soup is usually loaded up with artificial ingredients, including but not limited to genetically modified foods, MSG, soy and more. Then, they add a lot of sodium and put it in cans containing BPA that can do even more harm.
Why not try making your own?
But there are a couple more things you should know about making your own soup.
What You Prepare It in Matters as Much as Your Top-Quality Ingredients
Experiment with soup toppings to make it even more fun. You could even throw a "Soup Party" and offer a multitude of toppings, and ask each person to bring a pot of soup. Here are topping suggestions to get you going:
- Plain yogurt or sour cream
- Red pepper flakes
- Fresh basil or other herbs
- Pesto sauce
- Grated cheese
- Sunflower seeds
- Chopped onions, bell peppers or other raw veggies
Independent tests show that aluminum and stainless steel pots can potentially leach heavy metals into your soup.
I cannot recommend aluminum pans for cooking because of its suspected causal factor in Alzheimer's disease. Aluminum is a “reactive” metal – reacting with salty and acidic foods to release itself into your food.
And stainless steel may not be as inert as believed, either. All stainless steel has alloys which contain nickel, chromium, molybdenum, carbon and various other metals.
However, in my opinion, the worst cookware to use is non-stick pots and pans… which can release toxic fumes from perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA exposure is linked to serious organ changes, deaths of several rat pups, at least 4 types of cancer and more.
I believe that one of the best and safest materials you could find for a soup pot is the same material I recommend for your cookware and bakeware – a high-temperature resistant natural ceramic.
Your Versatile Can-Do Soup Pot
Your new Mercola Healthy Chef Ceramic Soup Pot Set:
- Captures the power of radiant heat and cooks without "hot spots"
- Is non-reactive – no harsh chemicals, toxins, or gases are produced while cooking
- Resists carry-over tastes and odors – even with highly acidic foods (such as tomatoes)
- Utilizes far-infrared heating – a penetrating heat that cooks your food from both the inside and outside simultaneously
- Contains no lead, cadmium, aluminum, copper, nickel, chromium, iron or any other heavy metals
- Won't leach into your food, affecting the taste or your health
- Is dishwasher safe
- Is so versatile you can use it on the BBQ grill, stovetop, microwave, oven and even your freezer.
Plus, Mercola Healthy Chef Ceramic Soup Pot Set has such superior heat retention that your soup will remain hot even when it's been sitting out for a while. Perfect for when someone gets home late or isn't quite ready for dinner, or if you want seconds. It’s also great for potluck dinners.
And your clean-up is amazingly easy too. Its non-scratch surface means you can treat it like stainless steel – a few scrubs with the scouring pad and off you go. Or pop it in the dishwasher. Or of course, you can always stick it in the fridge or freezer for another day's meal.
Lastly, it's good for the environment, due to its earth friendly production and the materials used in construction, plus the safe ceramic glaze alternative to harmful, earth-damaging PFOAs.
You can be proud of its good looks too. Each piece is handcrafted in a beautiful black high-gloss finish… suitable for guests, lovely for everyday use.
What Your New Soup Pot Set Includes
Your Mercola Healthy Chef Ceramic Soup Pot Set includes full 11 pieces, beautifully coordinated to present a simple and elegant soup meal, or a delicious appetizer.
What you get:
- A large 8 qt. Soup Pot with lid for easy serving in a compact size. Easy-grab, thick handles for easy transport and handling… and a high-gloss, scratch-proof ceramic glaze.
- 4 large matching 16-oz Soup Bowls with lids. Allows your loved ones and guests to enjoy it hot.
- Soup Ladle – FDA approved nylon, perfect for serving.
Will you step up to the plate and serve your family and friends the ultimate comfort food this winter – freshly made in your own kitchen, and prepared with fresh wholesome ingredients?
Once you try homemade soup, you'll never want to return to a can.
It even comes with a limited 50-year warranty backed by the manufacturer. So unless you drop the pieces, you should never have to replace it.
What's more… I offer my 30-day unconditional guarantee. So you get to test drive it in the comfort of your own home. What could be easier?
Winter's here… you feel it, and so do those you love. Get your Mercola Healthy Chef Ceramic Soup Pot Set today, and enjoy more hot soup this winter. The ultimate comfort food – prepared lovingly at home.