Fat Free, Make-Ahead, Comforting Soups

Soups on!! Make it from scratch, start with a can, or create your own with leftover meat, chicken, fish and/or vegetables. A whole-hearty nutritious and low-cost meal; soup is the ultimate "comfort" food. Stocked full of fresh vegetables, seasonings, herbs and flavorful broth, soup is satisfying and stimulating as a side dish or full meal. Pull out the pot, turn up the burners, throw in a dash of love and simmer it up with soup!

Top Tips for Savory Soups:

  • Start off with soup and take the edge off your appetite. Studies have shown that those who consume 1 cup soup before eating, take in 25% less calories.
  • Keep it healthy - start with fat-free broth. Choose from chicken, beef, or vegetable or make your own.
  • If you make your own stock, always start with COLD water. Draw out the juices and nutrients from the meats and vegetables you add to the stock.
  • For homemade stocks, keep the burner on a low, steady heat - do not boil!
  • Give yourself plenty of time to bring out fabulous flavors. Simmer your stock 4-6 hours; strain broth through several layers of cheesecloth or pour through sieve.
  • Refrigerate homemade stock for up to two days or freeze up to six months.
  • Select a main ingredient or combination of ingredients: vegetables, fish, beef, or poultry. Go for seasonal and fresh when you can.
  • Choose a liquid: homemade stock, canned broth, or skim milk.
  • Bring to a boil; immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for the remaining cooking time.
  • Season with onions, garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, fresh herbs, parsley, or seasoning powders (i.e. onion powder, garlic powder). Add seasonings in small amounts and taste after each addition.
  • Always season your soup at the end of cooking time to bring out the best flavor. Dried spices give off more flavors when they are heated, but fresh herbs lose their flavor if cooked too long.
  • Make soup ahead of time and freeze for quick meal or snack. If freezing, season soups more lightly. Seasonings intensify during freezing so add as needed while reheating.
  • Do not overcook soup you plan to freeze. It will cook further when reheated.
  • Toss in a few potato slices if you accidentally "overspice" the soup; then simmer for 30-45 minutes, then discard the potatoes.
  • Garnish soups with fat-free croutons, cheese, lemon or orange slices, scallions, cooked pasta, a dollop of fat-free sour cream, or fresh pieces of herbs just before serving.
  • Make cream soups with fat-free yogurt, skim milk, or evaporated skim milk. Do not boil soup after adding milk product!
  • If you purchase canned soup, avoid creamy varieties unless you can add your own skim milk. Choose soups labeled "fat free," "low sodium" or "no added salt."
  • Beware of packaged noodle soups - most of those noodles are prefried and salted packing on grams of fat and milligrams of sodium! One 3 oz. package of Chicken flavor ramen noodle soup contains 380 calories, 1820 milligrams of sodium and 14 grams of fat - over 33% of the calories from fat!!!
  • Turn broth or homemade stock into a wholesome, thick and creamy meal in a bowl without the fat!
  • For clear soups, use cornstarch, arrowroot, rice flour to tapioca. For opaque soups without starch, stir in flour, bread crumbs, pureed cooked rice, or mashed potatoes.
  • Whisk 2 tablespoons flour with 1/2 cup cold water for each quart of broth. Whisk into the hot soup and cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes until soup thickens and flour is blended.
  • Whisk 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water for each quart of broth. Whisk into the hot soup over medium heat for 30 seconds, or until thickened. If soup is refrigerated or frozen, it may need additional thickening when heated.
  • Whisk 1 cup mashed potatoes into soup over medium heat for each quart of broth. Cook 3-4 minutes until thickened.
  • Whisk 2 tablespoons rice flour into 1/2 cup cold water for each quart of broth. Whisk into hot soup over medium heat and cook 2-3 minutes until thickened.
  • Combine 1/2-1 cup cooked rice with 1/2 cup water in food processor or blender and puree. Whisk into hot soup and cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes until thickened.
  • Puree half the vegetables from your soup with a cup of liquid in a food processor or blender; return the mixture to the pot and cook until heated through.
  • Add pasta, noodles, barley, rice, potatoes, dumplings, or beans to thicken soup.
  • Add flour or cornstarch to milk and blend until smooth. Gradually add to soup and mix until thickened.

Good reasons to ladle out a bowl of soup:

  • One to two servings of soup (1-2 cups) can provide you with all the nutrition of a "steak and potatoes" meal.
  • Helps the "sniffles" or soothes a sore throat when you're feeling sick.
  • Makes you feel "toasty" and warm on a cold winter day!
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