Thursday, January 26, 2012

Soup’s On!

When the mercury plummets into sub-zero regions – as it has done here these last few weeks – there are no two words more tempting than the simple culinary refrain, “Soup’s on!”  With our furnace chugging constantly, barely completing one cycle before igniting the next, our only relief has been batches of tasty, hot, homemade soup.

Of all winter meals, I think soups (and stews) generate real, lasting, body heat.  Of course, digesting any meal raises the body’s temperature, but only hot soup will actually cause me to remove a layer or two of sweaters and socks.  Though I enjoy cooking, frigid fingers can make chopping and peeling vegetables difficult and that’s another reason soups are so great during cold snaps; with only one day’s meal prep, a couple/few meals are created (depending on quantities made.)

Along with snow, wind, and freezing rain, viruses have also been making their usual rounds.  Whether a cold or the flu, my appetite wanes.  Soup is the only food my stomach accepts (without complaint) when ill.  It’s easy to swallow, comforting to the stomach, and helps thaw “the chills.”

Though commercial soups are as easy as opening a can, or rehydrating a powder, their nutritive values are compromised by the processes they undergo.  Cream-based or homemade stock (whether vegetarian, vegan, or protein) coupled with fresh vegetables and/or whole grains (and meat, if desired) produces soups which offer much better nourishment.  For the  patient, weakened by nausea, a substantial meat or mushroom broth is not only easily digested, its wonderfully nurturing.  In fact, recent scientific studies have proven the cold-relieving effects of chicken soup – though Mom’s everywhere have intuited this for decades.
Home-made, cream of broccoli soup
Another great thing about soup is kitchen clean-up.  No, swabbing of floors is not involved.  What I mean is the ability to clean out the refrigerator and pantry’s hodgepodge of leftovers and aging vegetables.  Soup has long been our favourite way to use up these dribbles and drams:  a yummy way to avoid waste, while also providing a few more meals.  They are also a great way to utilize large quantities of sale-priced items, as we did with some fabulous broccoli found on sale this week.  

Soup might not be the most glamorous way of saving money and time, but it’s definitely one of the most warming.  During summer, when our soup-making ebbs due to heat, we actually miss them so, as soon as autumn rolls around, it’s quickly restored to the menu.  And, when the weather turns really foul, making soup is one of our favourite ways warm up and revive.