It is January.
And, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, it is very, very cold.
What better way to warm yourself up than a hearty bowl of soup?
Hot, filling and quite healthful (especially when packed with nutritious veggies), a pot of soup is the perfect meal during the chilly winter months.
Now is also a great time to cook up your favorite soup because January is National Soup Month!
A Brief History of Soup
Soup is a popular food choice in all parts of the world today, but did you know that this classic dish has actually been around for thousands of years?
In fact, historical evidence suggests that soup dates all the way back to 20,000 BC.
At that time, soup was commonly cooked in watertight baskets on top of heated rocks.
Over the centuries, this rudimentary recipe gradually transformed.
The soup we know today appeared in 16th century France, where it was sold by street vendors as an antidote for physical exhaustion.
Then, in 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened up the first known official soup shop, and the concept really started to take off.
The Health Benefits of Soup
Besides being a warm and delicious meal on a cold day, soup may also be quite good for you.
The best, most healthful soups are full of plant-based ingredients: fresh veggies, legumes, and/or whole grains.
A bowl prepared with these ingredients is an excellent way to ensure you get the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals they contain in your diet.
Veggie-based soups are particularly filling and nutritionally rich while nevertheless remaining low in calories.
This is precisely why in our article What Does a Perfect Plate Look Like? we explain the concepts of calorie density and ‘dilution is the solution’ and recommend that your meal always begins with either a soup or a salad.
Tips for Avoiding the Unhealthful Side of Soup
Not all soups are created equal.
While many are wholesome and good for you, others may contain excess sodium and oil, empty-calorie ingredients and even harsh chemicals; it is, therefore, important to know the difference between a good and a bad soup.
- Avoid Cream-Based Soups: They include dairy products that are high in calories and fat. Stick to (vegetable) broth-based recipes when selecting a soup for your next meal.
- Stay Away from Most Canned Soups: Soups that come in a can may contain chemicals like BPA and high sodium levels, which are detrimental to your health. Make your soups from scratch whenever possible; it is easier than you might think!
- Use Only Fresh Ingredients: When making your own soup, stick to clear vegetable broths and fresh plant-based ingredients. There really is no reason to add anything else (not even oil). The more ‘direct from nature’ ingredients you add, the more flavorful and healthful your soup will be!
How to Celebrate National Soup Month
So, how can you celebrate National Soup Month this January?
- Host a Soup Cook-Off: Gather your friends and family for a soup cooking competition. Try out some new healthful recipes and vote on the best one.
- Prep Soup in Advance: Cutting and chopping the veggies for soup can be the most time-consuming part of the cooking process. Consider cutting and storing your veggies or even batch cooking your soup on the weekend. You will have a healthful meal that is just minutes away.
- Try a New Recipe: January is a great month to experiment with a brand new soup recipe, and I have the perfect one! Our Pasta e Fagioli is wholesome and satisfying; I know you are going to love it!
However you choose to celebrate, be sure to warm up with at least one bowl of soup during National Soup Month!