Nutrition: Warm Up With Healthy Soups
Written by Susan Smigielski Acker
Cold winter days call for the warmth of a good bowl of soup. Instead of getting out the can opener, try making a pot for a healthy meal.
Chef David Miller, an instructor at the Culinary Institute of Virginia in Norfolk, says the best way to create a hearty and nutritious soup is to puree vegetables such as butternut squash or beets and use them to make a broth.
“It makes for a hearty richness without the fat,” he says.
For beets, Miller says to simmer them in water until tender or roast them with the peel on followed by peeling them after they are cooked.
“Be careful when peeling them when they are hot. It is best to let them cool,” he says.
Miller prefers to work with butternut squash because of its flavor and texture. Puree with a blender, food processor or emersion blender. Miller says an emersion blender is worth the investment if you plan to make soup frequently. “It keeps from having to pour hot liquids,”
To season vegetable stock, Miller recommends classic winter spices such as cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Add an acid to beet stock, such as wine, vinegar or lemon juice.
Tracy Conder, owner and instructor of Nutrition Made Easy in Newport News, will substitute silken tofu for heavy cream when making a cream-based broth.
Store bought chicken and beef broths can be high in sodium. To make your own broths, Miller says to simmer two pounds of chicken or beef bones, periodically skimming off the top to keep the broth clean. “The more you skim the better the broth,” he says. “Then strain it
When adding different ingredients, he says it is best not to throw them in all at once, but a few at time.
“It is all about building flavors, such as sautéing the onion and celery before putting them in the liquid.” He also recommends toasting the spices in the pot.
“There is no better winter
flavor than parsnips – sweet,
aromatic and slightly peppery.”
–Chef David Miller
Conder adds flavor to soups by rubbing fresh spices in her hand before dropping them into the soup. She’s also a fan of beans because they’re high in protein and fiber and work well in almost any soup.
When preparing soup for storage it is important to cool it first. Dividing soup into shallow pans will cool it faster; then chill the entire batch within four hours.
Hazelnut and Parsnip Soup (Makes 8 portions)
Recipe provided by Chef David Miller of the Culinary Institute of Virginia, School of Culinary Arts of ECPI University
• 1 1/4 c. hazelnuts, peeled and chopped, coated with a few drops of oil and a pinch of salt. Toast in moderate oven until aromatic and deep in color (about 8 to 10 minutes)
• 2 shallots, minced (substitute one onion)
• 1 leek, whites only, sliced thin
• 3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
• 6 c. chicken or vegetable stock
• 1 c. heavy cream or low-fat half and half
• Salt & fresh ground white pepper to taste
• 1 Tbsp. (or to taste) Frangelico liqueur (optional)
In medium saucepan, melt butter and gently sweat shallots, leeks and 1 c. of the chopped hazelnuts till aromatic and tender.Add flour and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add parsnips and stock, bring to boil and simmer about 20 minutes or until vegetables and nuts are tender. Meanwhile toss remaining 1/4 cup hazelnuts with oil and a pinch of salt. Toast in moderate oven until aromatic and deep in color. (about 8 to 10 minutes) Puree to desired consistency in blender. Add heavy cream, return to simmer and adjust seasonings to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with Frangelico and toasted hazelnuts.
Local Flavor: All Hail Kale
Written by Brandy Centolanza
“Kale has many health attributes,” says Pam Dowker, a registered dietician with Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. It’s important for vision, bone health and contains cancer-fighting compounds. “It packages a lot of vitamins and nutrients into one vegetable.”
Kale contains vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium, manganese, magnesium and fiber. Eaten regularly, cooked kale can help reduce cholesterol, Dowker says. She recommends eating leafy greens such as kale two to four times a week and suggests adding it to soups, stews and stir fry. She offers this simple kale recipe:
Baked Kale Chips
• 1 bunch kale
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1/16 tsp. sea salt
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a knife or kitchen shears, carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry the kale with a salad spinner. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place kale in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Rub the oil evenly on the leaves. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until the edges are brown but not burnt, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
Kale With Pasta, Beans and Sausage (Makes 6 portions)
Courtesy of Kelrae Farm
• 8 oz. uncooked farfalle (bowtie pasta)
• ¼ c. oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
• 1 ½ c. chopped onion
• 8 oz. hot turkey Italian sausage
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
• ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
• 14 oz. can of fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
• 16 oz. package of fresh kale
• 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• ¼ c. shaved fresh parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 c. water and keep warm. Drain tomatoes in a small sieve over a bowl, reserving 2 tsp. oil. Slice tomatoes. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add tomatoes, reserved oil, onion and sausage to pan and cook for 10 minutes or until sausage is brown, stirring to crumble. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add seasoning, pepper and broth to pan. Stir in kale, cover and simmer for five minutes or until kale is tender. Stir in pasta, reserved cup of water and beans.
Kale with Caramelized Onions (Makes 4 portions)
Courtesy of Pam Dowker, registered dietician with Henrico Doctors’ Hospital
• 1 lb. fresh kale, tough stem removed and roughly chopped
• 1 medium-sized onion, sliced thin
• 2 Tbsp. canola oil
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
• Salt and pepper to taste
First, caramelize the onions: Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a sauté pan over medium low heat and add the onions. Cook very slowly on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned; do not burn. When finished, remove from the heat and set aside. In a separate sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil over medium heat. Add the chopped kale and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes
Add the onions and, if desired, the lemon juice. Toss together. Remove from heat and serve.
Quick Oriental Kale (Makes 4 portions)
Plunge 1 lb. of chopped kale into boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain very well. Toss with 1 Tbsp. of toasted sesame oil and 1 tsp. of reduced-sodium soy sauce.