Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Soups are an easy way to healthy and economical eating for your family

Posted on Jan. 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

Food & Nutrition

As we experienced December and part of January I thought we were going to have a lighter or easier winter. By the time you read this it might be warmer, but right now it is good and cold like winter is supposed to be! The cold temperature brings about real cooking, and that means soup.

I know many of you lead busy lives and planning time for cooking and cleanup are not real important to you and your family. Some of you just want food to eat and you don’t care about real cooking or what used to be referred to as cooking “from scratch” (and that’s a whole other topic).

The first archaeological evidence of someone stirring up soup for dinner dates back to 6000 B.C. The main ingredient for this first-known soup was hippopotamus bones. That had to be a big pot! Before pots were developed to withstand direct heat from a fire, soup was cooked by placing heated stones into a bowl of liquid stock.

For most of man’s history, hearty soups were the mainstay of family meals. The cauldron was the original stockpot and provided an ever-changing broth enriched daily with whatever ingredients happened to be available. Every country virtually has a national soup that has survived over the years. Preparation of soups from country to country may not vary but differing ingredients reflect regional and national taste.

Soups are divided into many categories: clear, vegetable, creamed, bisque, chowder and fruit. Some are served hot and some are served cold. You should be able to count on four to six servings per quart of soup unless it is the main dish of the meal. Soup is one of the easiest ways toward healthy and economical eating. Soups work well with MyPlate and provide rich flavors; you can incorporate all that you and your family need from Myplate for good healthy eating.

There are many advantages to making soup; it is practical and if made ahead can be called fast food. Soups are also fast foods if you are using canned or dried soup mixes. Soups are also easy and they are just about impossible to overcook. The Crock-pot is a wonderful appliance to simmer soups in, as well as serve them in.

When you are looking to stretch food dollars, soups can help the money you spend on meat and other protein sources go further. While you are making the meat go further, you can also be creative and cook to your taste, substituting and using what you have in the cupboard. For all the above reasons soup is a great way to entertain. You can make delicious soup without a lot of effort and money.

When it comes to nutrition, the vitamins and minerals leach into the cooking liquid but that’s not a problem because you eat the broth or liquid. When making soup let it simmer for more flavors; don’t boil it. You might try keeping a freezer box or bag in the freezer for leftover bits of meat and vegetables. This can be the beginning of a great pot of soup.

So make some soup, have a salad, some homemade bread, plan a dessert, invite some friends over, and enjoy good friends and good soup!

Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is an Extension educator in consumer family science. Write to her at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; fax 533-0254; or email lienhart@purdue.edu.