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How to make the perfect winter soup

Accredited Practising Dietitian Katie Thomsitt shows how us to pack nutrition and flavour into soup.

As we say goodbye to the salads of summer for another year, a hearty bowl of soup is the meal of choice for many of us. Nothing beats the comfort of a homemade soup on a chilly winter’s day. But too often our soups are lacking key nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates and major food groups like vegetables.

If we are going to keep healthy during winter then it is essential to be consuming nutritionally balanced meals every day.

Here are some things to think about when choosing or making a soup.

1. Extra vegetables

Vegetables typically feature in many soup recipes, but usually only one or two varieties. A nutritionally balanced meal looks colourful, and therefore our soups should too. Add colour, flavour and nutrition to soups by throwing in at least five types of different coloured vegetables.

“The humble soup can be a quick, easy and nutritious meal if we pack it full of protein, low GI carbohydrate and a rainbow of vegetables.”

2. Protein

It is common to feel peckish soon after eating a bowl of soup. That is because often we forget about the most filling nutrient, protein. Aside from its weight control benefits, protein is the building block for muscle, healthy organs, skin and hair.

A balanced meal typically provides 100 g of cooked lean protein. This may be in the form of red meat, poultry, fish, legumes or eggs. A protein-rich soup could include some mouth watering slow-cooked lamb or a juicy shredded chicken breast to accompany a tasty broth.

For a vegetarian option, lentils or cannellini beans can turn a vegetable soup into a protein packed meal that will keep you feeling full all afternoon.

3. Low GI carbohydrates

A nutritionally balanced soup can not only help control appetite when the afternoon snack attack hits, it can also provide energy to ensure we outlast a busy day. The fuel in our diet comes from low Glycaemic Index (GI) carbohydrates such as pasta, basmati rice, sweet potato and wholegrain bread.

Try adding 1 cup of cooked pasta or basmati rice per portion to traditional soup recipes like minestrone. A toasted slice of multigrain bread is also a tasty addition to dunk into a piping hot bowl of soup.

The humble soup can be a quick, easy and nutritious meal if we pack it full of delicious ingredients that will provide protein, low GI carbohydrate and a rainbow of vegetables. Try new soup recipes or revamp old ones to enjoy the benefits of good health all year round.

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