5 Tips for Heartier, Healthier Soup

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By Sarah-Jane Bedwell

Soup is a staple this time of year, and for good reason--it's warm, easy, and comforting. However, some canned soups leave something to be desired when it comes to nutrition or their ability to keep us full. Here are some simple things you can do to make your soup healthier and heartier.

Mix-and-Match: Love your vegetable beef soup, but it seems a little thin? Wish your chicken noodle soup had a little more spice? Try mixing two or more different types of soups together to add flavor and bulk. Mixing several cans of soup together creates more servings, which is great when you need a big pot of soup to serve a crowd. Some of my favorites to mix are black bean and vegetable beef or minestrone with a creamy tomato basil. Be creative-the sky's the limit!

Add Veggies: One of the best ways to make a soup heartier and healthier is to add healthy extras. It's super easy to throw in a handful of fresh baby spinach or arugula before heating your soup. Another option is to heat a bag of steamer veggies in the microwave while your soup heats on the stove and them mix them together.

Make a Bed for Your Soup: Serve your soup on a bed of whole grains to add fiber and filling potential. Some of my favorite whole grains to use are: leftover whole grain pasta, 90-second microwaveable brown rice, or barley. If grains are not your thing, get the same effect by adding a can of rinsed and drained beans to your soup. Cannellini beans work great for Italian style soups with black or pinto beans are nice in Southwestern-types.

Add a Puree: Adding a vegetable puree, such as one made from boiled pumpkin or butternut squash, can thicken your soup and make it nice and creamy without adding high-calorie cream! It will also add loads of nutrition and flavor to your favorite bowl.

Think Smart when it Comes to Toppings: Crackers may be the go-to soup topping, but there are other options that will add crunch or flavor to you soup with some nutritional benefits to boot. If you are looking for a crunchy topping, try toasted whole wheat bread sliced into cubes or whole grain tortillas sliced into strips, misted with oil and placed under the broiler until crispy. For creamy toppings, try nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or reduced-fat finely shredded cheese (the more finely it's shredded, the less you'll use). Also, fresh herbs like basil or cilantro are always great to add as a final, flavorful touch to your favorite soup.

What types of things do you add to your soups to take them up a notch?


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