Is it soup yet?
As we enter the long winter months, what could be better than a steaming hot, hearty bowl of soup? Luckily, January has been declared National Soup Month so take this time to warm your belly and feed your soul with delicious homemade soups!
The earliest soups date back to 20,000 BC with the discovery of ancient pottery that showed signs of scorching suggesting the pot was used in making hot soup. Soup likely started out as watery gruel with the word “soup” coming from “sop” or “sup,” bread over which it was poured. Every culture has its own special soup — French Onion, Russian Borscht, Spanish Gazpacho, Chinese Won Ton, New England Clam Chowder or Central African Cassava Leaf Soup. Soups reflect the popular foods and flavors available in a particular region and are part of the cultural heritage.
Other tidbits of information about soup:
— Soup was accessible to rich and poor and the simple ingredients made it easy to digest for both healthy and sick people. It is an ideal comfort food for common ailments.
— Historians believe that restaurants first opened by serving different varieties of soup such as broths, stews, and bouillon. These soup restaurants were named “restoratifs,” meaning a place to restore.
— “Pocket soup” contained small packets of dried ingredients that could easily be mixed with water and heated. These were popular with early travelers.
— Even though we consider soup liquid, etiquette experts say we eat soup as opposed to drinking it because it is part of a meat. This is true no matter the consistency or ingredients used in making the soup.
— Dr. John T. Dorrance invented Campbell’s Condensed soup in 1897 which opened the door to quick and easy ready-to-eat food by just adding milk or water and heating.
Soup can serve as the main course or side dish for a meal. It is often easier to make soup in larger quantities for enhanced flavor and for leftovers. From a food safety perspective if you have made a large pot of soup that is not consumed in one sitting be sure to:
— Use within 2 days or freeze for future use.
— Do not let soup sit at room temperature for more than two hours. For small amounts divide into containers, loosely cover and place in the refrigerator.
— For a large batch of soup consider adding ice or cold water as a final ingredient. Fill your sink with ice and cold water, creating an ice water bath. Place the pot in the ice water and continue to stir or divide into smaller containers and place these in the ice water. Once cooled to 70 degrees F, loosely cover and place in the refrigerator until cooled to 40 degrees F. Freeze in appropriate containers.
— Reheat soup to at least 165 degrees F.
Here is a recipe for a hearty slow cooker soup that will fill hungry tummies. Just add a crusty whole grain bread and fruit for a complete meal.
Minestrone Slow Cooker Soup
Serving size 1 1/2 cups, serves 10
6 cups vegetable broth
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen green beans
4 medium carrots, chopped*
1 medium zucchini, chopped*
1 stalk celery, chopped*
1 medium onion, chopped*
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, minced*
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cooked (or 2 ounces of dry) whole-grain elbow pasta
2 cups fresh baby spinach*
Garnish: 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Dry with a paper towel.
2. Gently rub or rinse fresh vegetables under cold running water, for firm produce scrub with a clean vegetable brush. Prewashed packaged items do not require further washing.
3. Combine ingredients, except pasta and baby spinach, in a 6-7-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
4. Increase heat to high. Stir in pasta and spinach. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until pasta is done.
5. Remove bay leaf before serving. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
6. Refrigerate leftover soup in shallow containers within 2 hours. Use within 3-4 days or freeze for future use.
Calories: 134; Total Fat: 0.5g; Sodium: 860 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 26g; Dietary Fiber: 7g; Protein: 6 g.
Recipe from Kids Eat Right, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.