Healthy Soups To Warm You Up This Winter
A vegan Thai soup. Photo: Danya Dhanak
Winter is finally here and the slight chill in the air calls for a hearty soup to warm up the evenings and start your meal. Enjoying a soup as part of your dinner doesn’t have to mean an overly salted, creamy, canned addition to your meal.
These two recipes use some of the winter’s best produce to make healthy, satisfying soups. The first is a Thai-inspired soup with a coconut milk base loaded with spicy green chilies, ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Adapt it to your taste by varying the amount of green chili you like and adding in your choice of vegetables, protein and even rice. The second is a creamy broccoli soup that is easy to make but tastes impressive. Still, the luscious texture doesn’t depend on cream at all – instead this recipe uses milk and cauliflower that work together to get the texture without the unnecessary fat and calories.
A classic broccoli soup. Photo: Danya Dhanak
Often, people avoid dairy products if they’re down with a sore throat or cold. The Thai-inspired soup is inherently vegan and the creamy broccoli soup can easily be made vegan if you use a nut or seed milk instead. If you prefer a more filling soup, these soups can take on additional protein in the form of tofu or chicken to make them a complete meal.
This Thai-inspired soup works particularly well if you need a little zing; the creamy broccoli soup is an all-American classic that’s ideally complemented with a piece of buttered bread.
Soup 1 - Thai-inspired soup (serves 4+ people)
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
4 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely
¾ inch piece of ginger, chopped coarsely
1 tbsp oil
1 bunch or 20g approx. coriander including root if available
10-12 stalks of lemongrass
1 green chili, deseeded (or more or less depending on your preferred spice level)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chickpea flour (besan/chana atta) (optional)
1 tsp salt or to taste
2 cups or 500 ml coconut milk
Add-ons of your choice: tofu or other proteins, vegetables like red and yellow bell peppers, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot etc., grains such as sticky white rice, red rice, brown rice etc.
1. In a pan, sauté the onion, garlic and ginger in 1 tbsp oil for 3-4 minutes until browned and fragrant. Allow to cool.
2. In a blender/ mixer, add the sautéed onion, garlic and ginger, coriander, lemongrass, green chili, zest and juice of one lemon, chickpea flour and salt. Blend until smooth.
3. In a large pan, cook your vegetable and protein add-ons in the paste that you’ve just blended. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Lower the heat to the minimum setting.
4. Add the coconut milk and stir continuously until heated thoroughly.
1. Try to use freshly made coconut milk as opposed to canned coconut milk. Canned coconut milk contains carrageenan, a thickener that is known to cause inflammation. Make your own coconut milk by blending freshly grated coconut with water.
2. Coconut milk tears easily, which is why you need to stir continuously and use the lowest setting to cook.
3. If you dislike the fibrous nature of lemongrass, blend the lemongrass separately with a little water and strain before using.
Soup 2 - Creamy Broccoli Soup (serves 4+ people)
140 g broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets
80 g cauliflower, cleaned and cut into florets
1 onion, sliced thin or chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
375 ml or 1½ cups milk of choice (dairy, almond, cashew all work well)
125 ml or ½ cup water or vegetable stock
A pinch of nutmeg (optional)
½ tsp salt or to taste
¼ tsp pepper or to taste
1. In a large saucepan, add all the ingredients except the water/vegetable stock.
2. Allow the mixture to cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the cauliflower and broccoli are soft and easy to pierce using a fork (around 15-20 minutes).
3. Blend in a mixer/blender until smooth. Return to the saucepan, add the water/vegetable stock and serve warm.