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Born Slurpy – Are These the Healthiest Soups on the Planet?

Looking for a fast and efficient way to max out on your daily quota of nutritional goodness in one hit? The humble bowl of soup is the way to go, and these recipes will have you slurping your way to good health.


Double Boiled Chicken Soup

Right across the globe, chicken soup - or specifically chicken broth - and its many incarnations are celebrated as the ultimate folk food: intense, flavoursome and healthy. Indeed, scholarly studies indicate there are beneficial effects associated with warding off coughs and colds and, in Jewish culture it is even referred to as Jewish penicillin. In Southeast Asia and parts of South America, chilli and spices are often added with citrus fruits for a fiery, hot and sour kick; great for easing congestion and boosting endorphins. European versions favour subtler additions of herbs such as thyme, bay and dill, with the Greek chicken soup avgolemono enjoying a delightfully lemony tang. Perhaps the ultimate chicken soup is the Chinese double boiled variety, which essentially is an intense, steamed broth where all the goodness and flavour gets retained in the liquid, and the chicken becomes meltingly tender. The addition of medicinal herbs is a tasty way to boost health. It’s a highly versatile approach and the ingredients can be adjusted according to whatever style of cuisine you prefer. Here’s a classic health-giving Chinese version:

Ingredients

1 whole chicken cut into pieces and trimmed of excess fat

1 inch ginger root, peeled, cut into slices and bruised

1 bunch scallions (spring onions), ends trimmed and bruised

1 cup rice wine (Shaoxing rice wine)

A few dried dates or figs for sweetness, calcium and fibre (ideally Chinese dates)

Optional

Ginseng root – a few slices or strands

A few thin slices yu zhu (Solomon’s seal) root for chesty coughs, also said to be beneficial for regulating insulin levels so good for diabetics

A handful of dried goji berries (wolfberry), a powerful antioxidant

Chinese straw mushrooms

A few thin slices burdock root, to combat phlegm

A few hawthorn berries, high in antioxidants and vitamin c

Wood ear fungus, high in protein, calcium and iron

Winter melon

Pearl barley, for fibre and texture

Spinach leaves added just before cooking has finished

Vermicelli noodles cooked lightly for a few minutes in the broth

Method

  1. Place chicken pieces in pan, cover with water and bring to a boil until scum appears. Continue skimming while water is boiling until all scum is removed. Remove, discard water and rinse bird.

  2. Place bird in a casserole dish, claypot or double boiler with lid, then cover with around 4 cups/1 litre of water and add desired ingredients. Place tinfoil over the top and secure lid on top so a tight seal is formed.

  3. Place wok on stove then place a metal rack/stand inside (an all metal cake cooling rack works well). Place casserole inside wok on stand.

  4. Add enough water to reach about 2-3 cm up the side of the casserole dish.

  5. Bring to a boil and allow to continue gently boiling for 2-3 hours or longer, replenishing any water as it evaporates. If desired, any fat from the chicken can be scooped off the broth periodically during cooking.

  6. Remove ingredients, strain and serve with some of the tender chicken and any of the desired cooked ingredients.

Popeye’s Pureed Spinach and Quinoa Soup

Iron is an essential mineral that helps maintain healthy cell function, assists in delivering oxygen to vital organs and is particularly vital for things like reproductive health. It’s also the most common mineral deficiency in the world. Containing iron-rich spinach and protein-heavy quinoa, this soup’s iron content is further boosted by the addition of canned tomatoes (high in antioxidants) that absorb further iron from the metal can. A squeeze of lemon juice adds a pleasing piquancy to balance the smooth, graininess of the quinoa while providing a handy, synergistic dose of vitamin C – a fantastic way to assist the body in its absorption of iron. The spinach is added right at the end and only lightly cooked through to ensure its goodness isn’t boiled away, while the pureed consistency of the final product ups this soup’s warming, comfort food factor. A hearty, vegan-friendly bowl of goodness.

Ingredients

1 onion chopped

1 small clove crushed garlic (optional)

1 small can of tomatoes

1 large handful of spinach or a few cubes of frozen spinach

1 litre organic vegetable stock

½ cup of easy cook quinoa (can be adjusted depending on required consistency)

Juice of 1 lemon

A little olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Gently fry the onion till soft but not brown.

  2. Add tomatoes, bring to boil then gently simmer for 20 minutes.

  3. Add vegetable stock, bring to boil.

  4. Add quinoa, cook on simmer for 5 minutes.

  5. Add spinach and cook for 3 minutes or until quinoa is cooked through

  6. Add lemon juice.

  7. Allow to cool, then blitz in liquidiser to a smooth puree.

  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper and reheat to serve.

Japanese-Style Roasted Eggplant, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

This rich, yet low calorie soup packs an antioxidant, vitamin and mineral-rich punch. High in beta carotene, carotenoids and phenolic compounds; all of which help to mop up cancer-causing free radicals, protect against cardiovascular disease, and, with plenty of fibre, this combination of vegetables is great for digestive health too. Aubergine skins also contain a unique compound called nasunin, which has been found to protect brain cell membranes.

Ingredients

1 small organic butternut squash

1 organic eggplant (aubergine)

1 large sweet potato tuber cut into small chunks

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon sake (Japanese rice wine)

4 tablespoons aged, fermented organic miso (soybean paste)

1 tablespoon honey

½  clove garlic crushed or chopped

1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger

1 small onion or handful of chopped scallions (spring onions)

½ teaspoon sesame oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F

  1. Slice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Leave to drain on kitchen paper for 15 minutes.

  2. Blend 2 tbsp miso, mirin, sake, honey and sesame oil in dish.

  3. Peel and slice butternut squash into 5 mm slices and arrange on a tray with aubergine slices.

  4. Paint the vegetables with the miso glaze and place in oven for 30 minutes, turning to ensure both sides brown in the glaze.

  5. Remove and leave to cool then chop roughly.

  6. Bring 1 litre (4 cups) of water to a boil with the rest of the miso paste. Add the sweet potato and cook until soft

  7. Add the squash and aubergine and cook for a few minutes.

  8. Leave to cool then blend in liquidiser till smooth (add more water if required).

Mediterranean-Style Fish Soup

Fish is rich in heart-healthy omega oils, minerals and vitamins, and this light, broth-based soup is packed with a selection of delicious sustainable varieties which all contain high levels of omega oils and low levels of harmful contaminants like mercury. This is an easy adaptation of a classic Mediterranean fish stew; infused with delicious warmth thanks to chilli flakes and saffron, while orange adds a zingy and slightly sweet counterpoint. You can substitute with any fish, but aim for sustainable, cold-water varieties and avoid cholesterol-heavy shellfish such as shrimp. 

Ingredients

Alaskan wild-caught salmon fillets (strictly monitored fisheries with fewer contaminants are higher in omega-3s)

Pacific-caught sardines (there contain the most omega-3s and are highest in vitamin D)

Black cod (sablefish)

Clams

Mussels

1 small can chopped plum tomatoes, drained

1 medium onion

1 small fennel bulb thinly sliced

2-3 cloves garlic chopped or minced

Zest and juice of 1 orange

½ teaspoon red chilli flakes

Bay leaf

Pinch saffron

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Fry the onion, fennel and garlic in the olive oil until soft and translucent.

  2. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

  3. Add 1-1 ½ litres of water, along with orange zest, bay leaf, saffron and chilli flakes.

  4. Chop larger fish into chunks and add to liquid and slowly bring to a boil, skimming any scum from surface as it cooks.

  5. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

  6. Add orange juice and any shellfish or molluscs and simmer until cooked through.

  7. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with a twist of zest if desired.

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