The Conscious Cook shares her tips for a soulful soup

Soup is good for the soul.

Soup is good for the soul.

Contributed photo

“Soup is the song of the hearth … and the home.” — Louis P. De Gouy

There is something so soothing, so satisfying, so soulful about soup. When the day is gray and gloomy, cuttingly cold or just long and wearying, nothing revives the spirit and warms the soul like a steaming bowl of soup.

Making soup is an endlessly efficient way to meld bits of this and shavings of that, into a new and nourishing bowl of wonder.

Those last stalks of celery, carrots and onions and those few leaves of spinach or kale, that half can of beans, all become revitalized when tossed into the soup pot. Leftover sweet or white potatoes or roasted squash? These can be blended with cinnamon, ginger, a dash of cayenne and brown sugar or maple syrup, for soups that are really rather elegant.

Canned tomatoes are an excellent stand in for fresh during the dark months of winter. Place one or two cans of drained whole plum tomatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Add chunks of peeled onions and plenty of unpeeled garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive or grapeseed oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Roast in a 375 degree oven until onions are soft and slightly charred, the garlic is soft and the tomatoes are browned on the edges. Remove from the oven and pick out the garlic cloves. Pour the remainder into a bowl and let cool. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its paper shell and add to the tomatoes and onions. Puree this mixture in a food processor, blender or with a stick blender. Put into a big stockpot and add a little chicken broth. Let simmer until quite hot and serve garnished with a few shards of basil, and a grinding of black pepper. If you are feeling indulgent, you can add Greek yogurt or a squiggle of heavy cream to each serving. Some like a pat of butter swimming on top.

Soup delivers powerful nutrition to the body, particularly when onions and garlic are included, as they are suffused with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. If you are feeling on the cusp of a cold, eating soup with plenty of these powerhouse ingredients may sway those cold germs away.

Adding plenty of greens to your soups will provide calcium, iron, and other strengthening nutrients. Beans are a mighty source of protein and all those bits and pieces of vitamin rich vegetables are so sustaining.

Sing a song of soulfulness as you prepare soup as part of your delicious life.

Soul Saving Soup

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large stalk celery, chopped

2-3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (or if you have roasted garlic on hand, use that)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 large bunch kale (washed, center rib removed, cut into ribbons)

6-8 cups vegetable or chicken broth (homemade if possible)

1 28 oz can tomatoes (chopped or if whole, chop them yourself. Use the liquid in the can also)

3 potatoes peeled and diced (sweet potatoes ok)

2 15 oz cans of cannellini or other small white beans

Fresh parsley, washed, dried and chopped

Salt and black pepper

In a large stock pot heat oil, add onion, carrots and celery. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Saute until onions are golden and all vegetables are softened. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes, or until the garlic is starting to soften. Be careful not to overcook garlic. Add tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Add potatoes. Simmer soup on medium heat until potatoes are cooked through. Add white beans and kale when potatoes are cooked. Be sure kale has wilted, then ladle into soup bowls for serving. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” is a professional cook, organic gardener, and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.