Seriously, soup in the summer?
Yup, that’s what I said. The obvious choice is a gazpacho - cool and refreshing and full of fresh summer veggies like my Good ‘ol Gazpacho recipe. However, there are so many other lovely soups to enjoy, even hot soups in the summer. I have always been a huge soup lover. Soup is healthy, cozy, full of flavor, easy, often inexpensive to prepare and provides many meals. Another plus is that there are so many amazing recipes from around the world to be explored.
My love for soup reached a whole new appreciation several years ago when my husband and I went to Vietnam. We literally ate soup for breakfast every morning. Visualize this; it was 95 degrees, 100% humidity and about 8 am. My husband and I would peruse the streets looking for the longest Pho line (Vietnamese beef noodle soup pronounced “fa”). The 15-minute wait would result in us bellying up to huge bowl of steaming hot aromatic bone broth that had been prepared with love and tradition for hours.
The broth was adorned with fresh thinly sliced lean beef, rice noodles, mint, basil, bean sprouts, cilantro and a lime wedge. Then to top off this hot little serving of heaven we would throw on about 4 or 5 slices of jalapeno or some other fiery little nightshade.
What were we thinking? Not only is Pho one of the most nourishing, energy sustaining, and tastiest meals that I have ever had (and still enjoy regularly) Pho is also amazingly cooling.
Around the world people that live in hot climates have long enjoyed both spicy and hot (temperature hot) food and drinks. Its seems crazy but the facts are:
- A spicy meal or hot cup of tea or coffee on a hot day will make you sweat. The more you sweat, the cooler you are.
- The presence of “heating” spices (as well as the other herbs and spices used), helps stimulate the appetite and the digestion, both of which tend to slow down when it is hot.
- Spicy foods also stimulate thirst, which you’ll need if you’re doing all that sweating.
- Some studies show that, to a certain extent, the use of spices also prevents food spoilage. http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/March98/spice.hrs.html
- Endorphins are released in response to the painful stimulus of chilies, therefore consuming a spicy meal is quite fun!
- Spices have huge flavors compared to meats, grains, and herbs. They’re interesting to taste, are extremely aromatic, have healing properties and add a rich color and beauty to a dish.
More Points for Summer Soup
These days many of my patients find it difficult to eat and feed their family healthy foods. Many have a passion for healthy whole food but struggle with things like time, money and picky eaters. Often, we find it easier to grab whatever is available right now and deal with the health consequences later. By simply adding soup to your repertoire you’ll ensure that the food you grab on the go is full of nutrients, flavor and love.
One major problem with dealing with the consequences of unhealthy eating habits is that later is actually closer than you might think. Later is right now. Sadly, we are a nation of obese adults and just as many, if not more, obese children. Our unhealthy eating choices have caught up with us. The good news is that we can all RESET at any point. One simple way is to take control by choosing carefully what you put in your mouth and offer to your children.
“Sip’n once, sip’n twice, sip’n chicken soup with rice” Maurice Sendak
The infamous chicken soup is a wonderful place to start. It’s so easy and tasty and everyone loves it. Sure you can grab a microwavable, pre-packaged, heavily processed product that has extraordinary amounts of sodium, processed ingredients and chicken from who knows where. Further, if you actually microwave it in the provided packed, you’ll get to enjoy the xeno-estrogens and zero nutrients. However, I’d rather you make your own soup for a much, much healthier choice.
The best thing about homemade food is that you know what is and is not in it. Since we are concerned with health, preparing your own soup creations at home is a great way to go. No matter which type of soup you choose to make, chose fresh, local ingredients free of chemicals and pesticides and always choose free range when adding animal products.
A good soup always starts with the stock. For chicken soup, make the broth by boiling the remains of the chicken you had for dinner. Add the herbs and seasonings of your choice and boil until the chicken bones come out clean. Ideally on and off for 24 to 72 hours. Any remaining meat will be included in the broth. Once the broth cools completely, ladle it into airtight jars or containers for storing. A homemade broth is not only delicious but also full of nutrients derived from the bones, a method used for centuries to help build bone and support joints as well as strengthen the immune system.
If you want more variety, you can use fish, beef, pork, lamb, and even veggies like carrots, zucchini, celery, onion and garlic for the base of your soup. Season the stock really well with sea salt and herbs and simply boil. Once the stock is ready, all that is left to do is toss in your favorite veggies. Wait until the soup is completely cooled before pouring into storage or serving containers.
After your broth has been prepared – which is a great thing to do the day before your work or school week starts while you are doing chores and just hanging out - sauté some veggies and throw them in the pot along with a protein and serve a grain on the side if you like. You now have a 3-course meal in a single bowl.
Blenders Add a Twist to the Traditional Soup
- Great for sluggish digestion.
- Wonderful for “sneaking” in veggies.
- Fun for drinking on the go – which I never recommend or do personally
- Smooth texture that adds elegance to any dish.
- Perfect for fall gourds like pumpkin, squash and potatoes.
A great time saving tip is to prepare enough soup for the entire week. You can take the soup with you for lunches, have it for dinner a second night of even freeze if for a lazy day.
3-Day Bone Broth
Bone broth is simple and can be prepared on the stove or in a crock-pot. Boiled for a few hours for 3 days in a row.
As mentioned above, bone broths are packed full of minerals and vitamins essential for a healthy body. Rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, collagen, amino acids and other trace minerals. Great for bones, cartilage, joints, tendons, hair, nails and mood.
Historically humans have been boiling bones for centuries, not only for the healing properties but also for economic reasons. By extracting the nutrients out of bones, one can get the health benefits of eating meat when there is not meat available.
- Use the carcass of a chicken or turkey or go out and buy the bones of beef or pork from the butcher. It is essential that the bones be from a free-range animal that has not been treated with hormones or chemical. Chemicals such as these are stored in bone, fat and marrow tissues and will be extracted when you are preparing your broth so choose a clean source.
- Put them in a large stew pot or crock-pot with water to cover at least 2 inches over the top of the contents.
- Add an onion, garlic, celery, carrots – I often throw in vegetable clippings from my compost pot on the counter.
- Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer and leave it alone.
- Cook for 12 to 24 hours for Chicken Broth OR 24-72 hours for Beef Bone Broth. You can do this for 1-2 hours at a time when it is convenient for you over the 1-3 day period.
- Strain all of the ingredients through a strainer, and then after the large parts are removed strain again through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.
- Refrigerate for several hours and if you desire you can skim off the fat when it is cool. Not totally necessary as the fat adds amazing flavor and texture.
You can refrigerate the broth for several days or freeze for several months. One fun tip is to freeze your broth in ice cube trays so that you have lovely broth cubes to cook with any time for extra nourishment – add to any sautéed or stove top dish or when preparing bones.
By choosing to prepare foods from scratch you will instantly taste and feel the difference. There is a great sense of pride when you begin to make the things that you were originally taught you could only buy. Further, you will quickly come to notice the time and money savings. Enjoy another great opportunity to RESET NATURALLY!
Peace and Heath,