Soup’s On!

With the cold weather upon us, foods that are warm, comforting and nourishing seem to have particular appeal. That’s where soup comes in! Of course there are endless varieties of soup, and many people turn to grocery store shelves for their favorites. But the soups you make yourself can far surpass the commercial varieties for being delicious, versatile, nutritious and economical.

Try perusing through your recipe box, food magazines, or some of your cook books, and you are bound to come up with many ideas making homemade soup. The beauty of homemade soup is that you can literally take any basic recipe and modify it based on ingredients you have on hand. You can make adjustments to meet your specific nutritional or dietary requirements.There are few food items you could ever prepare that are as economical as a soup. Most soups start with a stock, broth, or a vegetable base. To that you can add bits of meats, poultry or fish, vegetables, beans, lentils, or any combination of grains that you have on hand. Making a soup is a wonderful way to make good use of leftovers as well.

Soups are suitable for just about any meal or snack. Most soups freeze quite well, so here’s an opportunity for make-ahead meals.

I often suggest to my clients who have little time to cook, yet want to eat healthier, to make soup on their day off. A good plan is to make one large pot of a different soup every week or so. Keep enough of the soup on hand for a couple of meals during the week. Freeze the rest in smaller containers, preferably 1-2 portion containers.

If you make a different kind of soup each week, you will soon have a good selection of soups in your freezer that you can choose from for a quick lunch or dinner meal. You can take your single serving of frozen soup to work with you and you have a nice healthful meal just by heating it up.

If you make your own soup, you will likely have a more nutritious product that is free of extra sodium or preservatives. Some commercial soups may be low in calories, but can have 1000mg (or more sodium) per serving. Even many of the lower sodium varieties can have 450mg. of sodium, which can be too much if you are watching you salt intake. When you make your own soup, you can control the amount of salt that goes into your soup without compromising flavor.

If you are really pressed for time, try using lower sodium broths as your base for making a great soup. Adding vegetables, beans, lentils or whole grains to soup adds plenty of vitamins minerals, and fiber. Stock or broth based soups are generally lower in calories, and based on what you add into the soup, you may be able to create something quite low in calories.

Soups provide a sense of fullness and can help with hunger control. People who regularly incorporate soup into their eating plan tend to eat fewer calories at the meal. Consider homemade soup for a healthy afternoon snack. This could help you prevent overeating at the dinner meal. This is great news for those who are watching their calorie intake.

There’s little that can go wrong when you make soup. Try using a slow cooker or just simmer on a low setting on your stove top; give it some time. The more you make soups and stocks, the more skilled and creative you become with the task. An investment of a little of your time can yield something satisfying, healthy and wonderful. Try some!

© 2010, Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE.  Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.

Gretchen is an author, consultant, speaker and Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Educator.  She is also a Certified LEAP Therapist (Lifestyle Eating and Performance), specializing in the clinical management of food sensitivities and related conditions.  She opened her private nutrition practice in 2002 and has expanded to two office locations in New Windsor and Beacon, NY.  Gretchen’s practice provides individual nutritional counseling in the areas of diabetes, weight management, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal disorders, and general wellness. To work with Gretchen Scalpi please visit

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