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Tis the season for soups

Put a healthy spin on old favorites using these quick and easy tips.

With cold weather and snow, curling up to a comforting bowl of soup is very appealing. Although soups are traditionally very salty and heavy and can be time-consuming to cook, there are simple substitutions and shortcuts that you can take to create a healthy, satisfying meal in little time.

  • Add flavor without salt. Dried herbs and spices add flavor to any dish without adding any salt. Fresh chopped herbs pack an even bigger punch. Using flavorful ingredients while cooking, like beer, wine, vinegar, or citrus juice will bring more depth to dishes. When cooking with broth or bouillon, use lower sodium or no added salt varieties.
  • Pack in vegetables. Vegetables can easily be added to any soup recipe, and will bring more flavor, texture, and nutrition to each serving. Most vegetables are not overpowering in flavor so add whatever you have on hand. Diced tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, or celery are simple. Chop up broccoli and cauliflower for additional crunch. Squash or sweet potatoes can be added and cooked until they are fork-tender. Even greens like spinach, arugula, and kale can be thinly sliced and added for extra micronutrients.
  • Increase filling fiber with whole grains. When cooking with potatoes, leave the peels on for extra fiber. If you are using rice or noodles, opt for brown rice or whole grain pasta instead of the refined alternatives. Experiment with other whole grains such as barley, bulgur wheat, or quinoa, which will cook well as the soup simmers. Consider adding navy or garbanzo beans for even more fiber and protein.
  • Ease preparation time. Many soups can be prepared in a slow cooker, by adding all ingredients and cooking on low for five to six hours. If you will be cooking during the week when you have less time, chop your vegetables ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. That way when you prepare the soup you have no prep time and can add in all prepared ingredients at the required step.
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