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During hectic times of year when to-do lists are a mile long it’s easy to become overwhelmed, overscheduled, and overstressed. Making a pot of homemade soup can be the perfect antidote for our frazzled nerves. The process of making and sharing soup is good therapy for the senses.
It begins with the quiet preparation and rhythmic chopping of vegetables, which can be calming and almost meditative. As we assemble ingredients, and flavors begin to combine and simmer, the aroma becomes welcoming and soothing. Once our soup is fully cooked and ready to serve, there is almost nothing that rivals the heartwarming pleasure of sharing the homemade nourishing goodness with a table full of loved ones.
Staying one step ahead of the snow starts with a kitchen pantry full of staples. A variety of flavorful fundamentals will give you plenty of flexibility when it comes time to creating satisfying, nutritious soups.
Stock up on pantry staples any time you see them on sale. Try to keep an assortment of these basics on hand, and you will be ready to make almost any favorite at a moment’s notice.
- BEANS: Begin with a variety of beans and legumes, dried and/or canned, including lentils, split peas, black beans, kidney beans, white beans, and chickpeas.
- TOMATOES: Have an assortment of tomato products available in either boxes, cans or jars, including organic whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and marinara sauce. Avoid buying any tomato product that contains added sugar or oil.
- GRAINS: Look for a few favorite grains to keep handy, including brown rice, quinoa, and barley.
- BROTH: Keep boxes of organic vegetable broth in your pantry, made without any added oil or sugar, to use as a base for a wide variety of healthy, satisfying soups.
Slow Cooking vs. Stovetop
Slow cooking a pot of soup all day long might be the easiest way to have soup on the table when you get home from a long day, but cooking a pot of soup on the stovetop is the fastest.
These four tried and true recipes are among my favorites. Each one works beautifully with either method.
The advantage of slow cooking becomes clear the moment you arrive home, when that pot of hearty bubbling soup awaits. But it’s a trade-off. For some households, the morning chaos is already at capacity, and adding even one more task to the morning routine (i.e., slow cooker set-up) doesn’t work for everyone.
If this sounds like you, simmering any of these recipes on the stove after work is a great backup plan. Or, try to squeeze some time into your weekend to prepare one or two pots of soup for the cold week ahead, and cooking extra batches for the freezer can be a lifesaver on those too-tired-to-cook nights.