It’s winter and soup is on my menu. Today for lunch I chose soup, despite the many other choices on the café menu and I am pumping it out of the kitchen at home. What makes soup so attractive in winter and why is good for us?
Food is more than just the nutrients we eat, it creates feelings and emotions
and soup certainly demonstrates that. It’s inviting smell and warmth seen as the steam rises and that it brings when you eat it is a positive whole body feeling. There is something nurturing about soup when you aren’t feeling well. The steam is great for helping clear a blocked head, throw in some garlic, ginger and chilli and it really gets the nose going!
As well as making us feel good which is so important for health in itself, soup nutritionally can be a power house of nutrients to help keep colds and flu under control, with vitamin C, zinc and loads of antioxidants. So what do you need to add to get these nutrients in a tasty winter soup?
Let’s start with vitamin C. You will get the most from uncooked vegetables however you don’t destroy all of the vitamin C by cooking and it is a water soluble vitamin, so at least in soup you are having the liquid. Some vegetables rich in vitamin C that you might consider are red capsicum, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, green leafys, snow peas and even potato. Don’t use the old wilted vegetables if looking for maximum nutrient content, as vegetables reduce in nutrients as they age.
Then add some meat or seafood for zinc. Zinc plays an important role in many parts of the complicated immune system, working as an antioxidant, catalyst to speed up reactions and in the function of the T cells and natural killer cells in fighting infection. Using meat with bones often adds extra flavour and can be more economical.
If you’re not a meat eater, then try adding some legumes and/or tofu to the soup for zinc and eating it with some wholegrain bread as wholegrains provide some zinc also. These also add dietary fibre, which can feed your colony of bacteria in your gut and a healthy colony of gut bacteria can also be beneficial for your immune system.
Meat and seafood have the added benefit of providing some iron which again is an important mineral for immune health. Iron when tend to think of as being responsible for carrying oxygen around the body as part of the red blood cells, haemoglobin, but it is also involved in immune function.
So there are a number of nutrients important to keep you well over winter and soup can include them all. To get a good range use a variety of vegetables to provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Adding some barley, lentils, legumes, pasta or rice can bulk up the soup making it a hearty meal and providing you with energy for any time of day. What a great lunch or in many countries, they start the day with soup for breakfast, so get cooking!
Simone likes to share her expert nutrition advice. Read more