Start with basic aromatics. Aromatics are vegetables that deliver deep, well-balanced flavor and aroma when heated or crushed. Examples include garlic, onions, chilies and ginger. Each vegetable boasts different health benefits and cooking qualities. Chop aromatic vegetables evenly for even cooking and remember that hearty vegetables such as carrots may require longer cooking times.
Avoid weighing down your soup with extra fats and oils. Instead try “sweating” vegetables in a small amount of oil, juice, broth or water. To “sweat” vegetables, cook them in a covered pot with liquid. This softens the veggies without browning them.
Next, add spices and herbs to your aromatics and cook for only a few minutes for the best flavor. Add starches such as small cubed potatoes, whole wheat pasta, beans or rice followed by vegetables like kale, spinach, zucchini and mushrooms in addition to your favorite stock.
Lastly, “finish” your soup with additions that help to balance and bring out the flavor. The options are endless and include lemon or lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar or half and half. You can also add delicate herbs at this time like mint, parsley or cilantro or hot sauce for a spicy kick.
The final step is to garnish your soup with toppings like fresh avocado, crispy whole grain tortilla strips, Greek yogurt, chopped nuts or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
When you’ve eaten your fill, save leftovers in the freezer for an easy meal solution to enjoy later! Follow these steps to safely freeze soup:
1. Cool the soup quickly by placing your soup pot inside a larger container filled with ice. Stir frequently while the soup continues to cool.
2. Package the soup in containers leaving 1 inch of space at the top of each container.
3. Label the containers and place them in the freezer for up to six months.
Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN Food City Registered Dietitian