It’s getting chilly in Southern California…the upper 30’s at night are upon us. After 12 years of living in SoCal, I am allowed to call that COLD! I know my Michigan peeps are laughing out loud about that statement. It’s all good. No matter where I call home, this time of year makes me crave soup. Besides, I did my time during the first two-thirds of my life enduring 10 degree mornings. No thanks!
Many soup recipes are loaded with sodium, fat, and processed ingredients like Velveeta or canned cream of something. A lot of my ingredient “swaps” add more veggies, ditch the cream or half n half for milk, reduce the butter/oil, and increase the spices while decreasing the salt. Some changes are minor and the result does not alter the recipe to leave it falling flat on flavor and texture. Major changes occasionally morph a recipe into a whole new food category…which can also be interesting. My family has started calling my chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle stew.
A common food myth is that you have to give up your comfort foods to be healthy or lose weight. A good recipe makeover can take a heavy dish and turn it into a lighter, possibly more flavorful version that gives your soul a smile along with your belly. I love the challenge of making healthy food that begs comments like, “This must not be something you’re adding to your blog!”
My favorite soups are french onion, minestrone, chicken noodle, and broccoli cheese…in no particular order. Every one of these soups have good memories attached to them. French onion is deeply attached to my grandmother, whom I once took to a restaurant and discussed the virtues of a good bowl of soup. Minestrone brings me back to one of my many jobs waiting tables where I ate a bowl of it for lunch every day. I learned to make chicken noodle soup in a sub shop I worked at while I attended college. My first broccoli cheese soup was served in a bread bowl and it was love at first bite.
Food is a HUGE part of our lives. My advice, as your friendly neighborhood Dietitian, is to embrace the foods that provide these wonderful memories. Most people are in a constant war with food. Food does not have to be the enemy. Find a way to balance it out and you will find the path that leads you to the person, body and mind, you want to be.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 5 large carrots, sliced
- 2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup unbleached flour
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth/stock
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 1/2 cups shredded 3 cheese blend
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, over medium heat, melt butter and saute onion, celery and carrots for 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.
- Whisk in flour and slowly add warmed vegetable or chicken broth while continuing to whisk.
- Bring to a gentle boil and add broccoli. Cook for 8-10 minutes and add milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Turn down to low heat and DO NOT BOIL after adding the milk as it scorches easily.
- Allow the soup to heat through, approximately 8-10 minutes and whisk in shredded cheese.
- ENJOY without guilt!