Pretty much every season that rolls around, I think, “This is my favorite season because it is salad season!” Or margarita season. Or fruit bowl season. But the season I love most is soup season.

Soup season officially begins when I have enough old vegetables in my fridge that I need some way to disguise their mushiness. What better way than boiling them into further mush?

Soups have so many roles in our kitchens and our health, but they are a greatly overlooked food—especially for those of us looking for ‘convenient but healthy’ food options. Also, soup is inexpensive, nutrient dense, hydrating, and of course solves some of those borderline funky vegetable issues from the back of the crisper drawer.

Single pot soup is the way to go for simplicity. Start with a large pot, some good oil (butter, olive, coconut) and your base of onions, garlic, or both. Sauté those until clear, add meat if you’re a carnivore, then add your veggies.

If you want something on the leaner side, use your green veggies: zucchini, spinach, kale, celery, okra, cabbage, peppers, etc. If you want something a little denser, think about adding some good carbohydrate sources: sweet potato, butternut squash, beets, carrots, parsnip, kohlrabi.

There are a few secrets to a good soup, but what is most important is using a good broth. Traditional bone broth has a lot of hype around it for its health benefits. It is loaded with collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, minerals, and protein. For those of us with gastrointestinal discomfort or joint issues, bone broth is a fantastic way to get a lot of key materials for health into the body. Vegetarians can get many of the same benefits from a traditional vegetable broth made from vegetable skins and peels.

These broths carry a lot of flavor as well, so sometimes just the broth and your vegetable drawer leftovers are going to make a delightful combination.

If you’re feeling exotic, throw a can of coconut cream in there with some curry spices and blend that baby up. Coconut curried butternut squash soup is one of my favorite. Or ginger, coconut, and carrot bisque.

Soups are diverse and meet any dietary need or restriction you may have. But watch those bouillon cubes and jars, which are often full of MSG or other forms of gluten. Vegan? No problem. Throw some Brussel sprouts and beans in there for added protein. Pescetarian? Use a fish broth and make something with shrimp and scallions. Omnivore? Clean out that old pack of sausage that’s been in the freezer for six months.

Perhaps best of all, soups are better the next day, or so they say. Reheat it, throw it in your thermos, and pack yourself a bitchin’ lunch with all the nourishing food your body needs midday. Sandwiches don’t even come close to a steaming bowl of hot soup.

Soup is not just limited to a lunch and dinner food either. While many of us are used to sweet breakfasts—arguably a detrimental way to start the day— a quickly-heated bowl of stew or sausage and kale soup will start your day off right. Also, sitting down to eat your morning meal is a perfect way to remind your body that you care about it. Keep that up, and it might just continue taking you on adventures. //

 

Ammi Midstokke ran several unplanned ultra marathons this summer while pursuing epic mountain views in the great Northwest. Last month, she wrote about simplifying health with easy food solutions.