Thursday, January 22, 2009

Soup - Good for the Budget, Good for the Diet

I have really learned to love making soup. It's so easy and delicious, and you really don't have to follow a recipe. Soup is especially great for a couple of reasons particularly pertinent to me at this time. First, you can make it by just throwing in whatever you have on hand and therefore it can be extremely inexpensive. And second, when you make it full of vegetables and avoid high-calorie additions like cream, it can be very low calorie and super healthy!

Last night I made the perfect example of this type of soup (I like to call it "anything" soup because you can put anything in it). I chopped up a couple potatoes, some baby carrots (purchased on sale), and some onion. As these were boiling, I got to work adding all the fun stuff. Some leftover lentils from the fridge and a couple handfuls of texturized vegetable protein (TVP, a meat substitute) upped the protein, while chicken bouillon and a couple teaspoons of cider vinegar enhanced the flavor without adding calories. Last of all, when the potatoes and carrots were almost ready, I added some pasta. When it was tender, the soup was ready. It was delicious and filling, inexpensive and healthy.

To make your own "anything" soup, start with whatever fresh vegetables you have, put in a pot and start boiling. Carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, greens, etc. all make great soup - try to add as many colors of vegetable as you can! Add any leftovers you think might go well in soup (leftover meats and vegetables are good in soups, but don't discount stuff like casseroles or other random things - you'd be surprised what you can put in soup!). A small amount of vinegar (about a teaspoon or two per quart) really enhances flavor. You can add noodles or rice for a starch, or even make dumplings. If you do the dumpling route, make sure there's plenty of liquid in the soup because dumplings absorb lots.

I can't wait until Saturday, the day we post about My Kitchen My World. I cooked our MKMW meal on Tuesday night and it was so delicious, especially dessert! So keep an eye out for that. And in the meantime, go make some soup! :-)


Rebekah said...

This looks great!!!

How do the TVP's rate? I'm considering getting some for our food storage but have never tasted it before.

Stephanie said...

TVP is okay, it's best if you mix it in with some ground meat or use it in really flavorful things like spaghetti or taco meat. It's bland on its own. And while the texture is similar to ground beef or turkey, it is a bit more rubbery. But like I said, it increases the protein, and it's a more inexpensive option than meat.

HoneyB said...

Now I can't wait to see your MKMW meal!

Meg said...

I am definitely going to makes some "anything" soup!

Barbara Bakes said...

Good ideas - I'm going to have to get more creative with soup!

Rapunzel said...

This sounds delicious, perfect for rainy summer afternoons when we just want to curl up with a warm cup of soap!