There’s nothing quite like the slow warm-up from the inside out when eating a delicious and hearty winter soup. I love soups because they’re a great way to pack a lot of healthy nutrition into a single dish and they’re satisfying. Not to mention they make your house smell amazing while you’re cooking.
Winter Soup # 1: Sweet Potato and Lentil
Why I like it: Sweet potatoes are on my list of healthy low-glycemic carbs, which are a key part of the Pan Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM ) diet. They have a higher fiber content than white potatoes, which slows their breakdown in the body and helps feed gut bacteria and promote good regularity. Lentils are a great source of fiber, too, plus they’ll give you a bit of protein. Finally, this winter soup gets a hit of flavor from curry powder and cilantro. Curry powder is a mix of spices that typically includes turmeric, which is anti-inflammatory. Cilantro helps support the body’s ability to detoxify itself.
The best part about this winter soup recipe, though, is that you make it in a slow cooker. All the work gets done up front, then you can sit back and enjoy the aroma as it stews.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Large sweet potato, peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 leeks, chopped (only use the white and light green parts)
- ¾ c. dried yellow or red lentils
- 4-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ c. chopped fresh cilantro
- Garlic olive oil or classic EVOO for drizzling
- Lemon wedges for serving (optional)
- Himalayan or sea salt (to taste)
Add sweet potato, carrots, celery, leeks, lentils, ginger, ¾ teaspoon curry powder, and 1 teaspoon salt to your slow cooker (a stovetop pot will work, too). Pour in 6 cups of water, mix well, and then cover and let the mix cook on low for about 8 hours.
Before serving, stir the soup briskly to break down and further mix the ingredients. If the mixture is too thick, add some hot water to thin. Finish with a generous drizzle of garlic olive oil or classic EVOO, along with lemon juice, cilantro, and salt to taste.
Winter Soup #2 – Roasted Butternut Squash
Why I like it: This winter soup recipe uses flavored olive oil, one of my favorite foods on earth, to create its signature flavor. I’m a HUGE olive oil lover—the more ways you can incorporate it into your diet, the better. In addition to being a great source of healthy fats, olive oil has antioxidant properties that can help fight free radicals.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1 T. Garlic Olive Oil or Jalapeño Garlic Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling
- ½ c. chopped shallot or onion
- 1 tsp. Himalayan or sea salt
- 1 to 3 tsp. Mexican Spice Blend, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Up to 4 c. (32 oz.) vegetable or chicken broth
- 1–2 T. butter
Preheat oven to 425° F. Halve the squash and place it face down in a glass baking pan with about an inch of filtered water and steam it for about 40–45 minutes, or until tender and cooked through. Scoop flesh into a bowl when cooled.
In a pot, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot or onion and salt. Sauté until the shallot begins turning golden on the edges, stirring frequently.
Combine the shallot mixture, squash, and a dash of black pepper in a blender. Add 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth and Mexican Spice Blend, to taste. Blend until creamy. Thin the soup with additional broth, until it reaches your preferred consistency, and season to taste. Ladle into individual bowls and generously drizzle with flavored olive oil of your choice (Spicy Jalapeño and Blazing Habanero flavors are also terrific for kicking this soup up with some spicy heat).
Winter Soup #3 – Minestrone
Why I like it: Technically, this probably isn’t a true “winter” soup—but it does taste great when it’s cold out. Minestrone is also an Italian classic full of ingredients that are part of the PAMM diet plan. If you want to experiment with the flavor, try adding a pinch of my Tuscan or Mediterranean spice blends.
What you’ll need:
- 1 T. basil, rosemary or oregano flavored olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 2 quarts low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 to 4 stalks celery, strings removed, finely chopped
- 1-2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 1 ear of corn, kernels removed, or ½ cup frozen, thawed
- 6 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced (substitute low-sodium boxed tomatoes if you can’t find fresh)
- 4 c. spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage or kale, leaves torn if large
- 1 c. finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 c. cooked red lentil or whole wheat penne
- ½ c. finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- ⅛ t. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan or sea salt
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onions, celery, and carrots about 4 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the vegetable broth, salt, corn, tomatoes and garlic and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Add the parsley, marjoram, pepper, arugula and pasta. Gently stir until well blended. Add salt, if needed. Finish each bowl with a generous drizzle of Basil or Rosemary olive oil and 2 tablespoons of cheese.
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