My pro tips for making simple, creamy, nutritious soups

Ahhh humble soup. Warm and comforting. Thick and creamy. Slurp-y and broth-y. Flavorful and refreshing.

Soup is a perfect food (in my opinion) that can be both filling and super nutritious. Unfortunately, most soups served at restaurants (in my area at least) are packed with excess sodium, heavy dairy and unnecessary oils, preservatives, and low quality animal products.

Soup has become a staple of life for me through my journey with life-threatening illness and as a result I’ve turned into quite the pro-soup-chef (if I do say so myself!)

Today, I’m sharing my tips for simple, quick, creamy, nutrient dense soups that will leave you feeling great while delivering the familiar feelings of comfort. Soups are an easy way to transform (and even hide) vegetables for the picky eaters in your life.

All of my recipes are 100% plant based and free of common allergens. Enjoy them as a stand alone meal, appetizer, or a side!

 

The Basics for creamy soups:

 

1. Pick one or two veggies to make up the bulk of your soup. You are welcome to add more variety but simplicity truly is key!

2. Use fresh vegetables or frozen bags (freezer veggies get a bad wrap yet are actually a great option! They are frozen at their peak freshness, therefore, the nutrients are protected.)

3. Steam, roast, sauté or leave the veggies raw.

4. Using a stand blender or immersion blender, blend your prepared veggies with vegetable broth/cooking liquid, your favorite herbs fresh/dried, spices and condiments.

5. Let your soup sit in the fridge to get lots of flavor! Of course you can eat it on day one. I find that I always enjoy it most on days 2-3. Time enhances flavor meaning soup is the ultimate make ahead meal/left over.

PRO TIP: To bulk up your soups: Add a healthy cooked starch like potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, or even oats. Beans are surprisingly effective for adding thickness and creaminess to a blended soup or dressing. (Plus they are a nutritional powerhouse!) Blend the starch with the rest of your soup for a low fat velvety texture.

PRO TIP: Add a source of healthy overt fats for extra creaminess. Avocado, tahini, coconut milk & hemp seeds are my top choices for fats that are health promoting and satisfying.  

PRO TIP: I eat a low salt diet so rather than using vegetable broth in recipes, I prefer to use all water plus a few squirts of veggie broth concentrate. It adds great flavor without too much sodium and is cost effective. 

 

Recipe time!

Basic Blended Broccoli

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4 cups broccoli florets

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves smashed garlic

2 medium yellow or russet potatoes

1-2 tablespoons vegetable broth concentrate.

Seasonings: Turmeric, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, sea salt, basil.

Optional additions: Cherry tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, carrots, celery.

 

  1.  Sauté onion and garlic in pot with a little water to keep from sticking.
  2. Once they become translucent and fragrant, add the rest of your chopped vegetables with enough water to cover but not so much that your ingredients are drowning.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce to a steady simmer. Add spices.
  4. Once potatoes are fork tender, the soup is ready to blend. You can let it simmer longer but the beauty of this soup is that it can take less than 30 minutes start to finish.
  5. Purée smooth using an immersion blender or transfer soup mix into your stand blender.

 

Picture: I recently threw this soup together for lunch for Vince and me. We topped our bowls with chickpeas, chopped cucumber and sweet peppers, fresh dill and coconut aminos.

Health Benefits: Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a phytonutrient with antioxidant properties which are amazing for your health. The sulforaphane present in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, has the power to prevent DNA damage and metastatic cancer spread, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, boost liver detox enzymes and target cancer stem cells, protect the brain and eyes, reduce allergy inflammation, and manage diabetes (plus more!) **

Pro Tip: Sulforaphane content is highest in raw broccoli. If you are planning to eat it cooked, chop is ahead of time and store in air tight container to enhance the enzyme formation and lock in the most benefit. Or chop and leave on your cutting board for 40 minutes then cook away. Soups are an easy way to transform (and even hide) vegetables for the picky eaters in your life. **Info from “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger.

 

The Quick Cabbage Soup

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I know this one isn’t creamy and blended… however, it is so quick, satisfying, nutritious and delicious!

½-3/4 head of green or purple cabbage, chopped (not too small)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves smashed garlic

2 cups brussels sprouts, cut in half

1 red/orange bell pepper, cut

2 tablespoons veggie broth concentrate

Seasonings: Turmeric, black pepper, fresh lemon juice, coconut aminos, basil

Optional: Add a whole, uncut jalapeno or habanero to the mixture while cooking

 

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in pot with a little water to keep from sticking.
  2. Once they become translucent and fragrant, add the rest of your chopped vegetables with enough water to cover but not so much that your ingredients are drowning.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce to a steady simmer. Add spices and optional hot peppers.
  4. Once vegetables are fork tender the soup is ready. If you have time allow it to simmer up to two hours. If not enjoy after 20 minutes of cooking. This is great with a fat squeeze of lemon/lime juice on top!

PRO TIP: Purple cabbage will provide more nutritional benefits as the beautiful bright hue indicates the presence of more antioxidants than the green variety.  

 

Health benefits: Cabbage and brussels sprouts are also members of the cruciferous vegetable family (see broccoli recipe for benefits of crucifers). In a study published in Food Chemistry, brussels sprouts along with garlic, cauliflower, leeks and green onion “abolished cancer growth completely, stopping breast cancer cells dead in their tracks.”  Red/purple cabbage has “more antioxidants per dollar than anything else in the produce aisle.” Research shows that the cruciferous vegetable family is one of the top 2 powerhouses essential for dietary cancer prevention.**Info from “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger.

 

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

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1 large butternut squash or 2 medium
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 Medium yellow onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
Fresh basil, rosemary, parsley, thyme
Salt, Pepper, vegetable broth/concentrate (opt)
1. Roast the butternut squash WHOLE at 450 F for 40-50 minutes, until soft enough to squish. Just scrub the outside then place in a deep baking dish with about 1/2 inch of water to lock in moisture. Roasting it whole is not only EASY, I also find it results in creamier squash.

  1. While the squash roasts, sauté onion, celery, & garlic in a tbsp of water (rather than oil) until translucent & fragrant. Add approx 2 cups vegetable broth & 2 cups of water (you can do all water or all broth), add the carrots, herbs & seasonings.
  2. Bring soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer with the lid tilted open on your pot.
  3. Once the squash is done roasting, allow to cool a few minutes. The skin will be easy to peel off, remove it & scoop out the seeds.
  4. Add squash to the soup mixture.
  5. Purée smooth using an immersion blender or transfer soup mix into your stand blender.
    Health benefits: Winter Squash = rich in phytonutrients + antioxidants, easy to digest, high in Vitamins A, E, C, B-complex, beta carotene, iron, zinc, copper, calcium, & potassium which are vital for a strong immune system, low in calories yet filling making it a great weight loss/management food, & anti-inflammatory. **Info from MedicalMedium.com.

 

Great Green Gazpacho (one of my favorites!)

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1 large ripe avocado

2 English cucumbers, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1-2 cups chopped tomato

Handful fresh cilantro

1 garlic clove, minced

Large handful greens such as spinach or romaine

Juice of 1/2 large lime or 1 smaller lime

Optional: pickled jalapeno, sriracha/hot sauce, vegetable broth, salt, pepper

  1. Chop ingredients. Add everything to blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Store in airtight container and allow time to chill in the fridge, at least two hours. Gazpacho is a cold soup, meant to be refreshing especially on hot days. This recipe is a staple for me during the summer!

 

Health Benefits: Avocados boost the absorption of other phytonutrients which are fat soluble. Leafy greens such as cilantro, spinach and romaine are among the healthiest foods on the planet. “Of all foods analyzed by a group of Harvard University researchers, greens turned out to be associated with the STRONGEST PROTECTION against major chronic diseases, including up to a 20% risk reduction for heart attacks and stroke for every additional daily serving.”

**Info from “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger.

 

For more recipes see this previous post, here. 

The Internet is full of amazing, simple, nutrient dense soup recipes! Search for recipes that are plant based, limit or omit dairy, and are filled with ingredients you love.

Enjoy these tips, my friends! As always wishing you blessings, health, and happiness.

 

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