As I am writing this column, I am listening to the local meteorologist who is predicting snow this weekend. To me, snow signals soup season.
Chilly weather causes one’s body to experience changes in energy levels and metabolism. A bowl of warm, thick soup will not only warm fingertips. It can increase core body temperature to warm a person from the inside out.
I recently tried a new recipe using the last zucchini, carrots and onions from the garden. I had a small amount of sausage to use and the combination of ingredients in this soup made a satisfying meal.
Soups are convenient, economical and quick to prepare. Hands-on time can be diminished by making soup in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Most soups freeze well, so they can also be made to enjoy later, when you are busy, too tired to cook or feeling under the weather.
Soups warm you up. They help to make you feel full and hydrated due to their high liquid content. Soup is a great way to boost the amount of vegetables that are recommended for a healthy diet. Packed with fresh vegetables, soups are a great way to get more vitamins and nutrients. Unlike some cooking methods, soups retain the vitamins and minerals of cooked vegetables, because the liquid they are cooked in is not discarded and becomes an ingredient in the savory broth. When paired with a salad, wholegrain bread or crackers, a soup can be a meal in itself.
This is the time of year when people succumb to colds and flu. Did you know that garlic, black pepper and cayenne in soups serve as natural decongestants? Just breathing the steam from hot soup can help relieve congestion in the respiratory system. Most soups contain disease-fighting nutrients that give your immune system a boost.
Whether you are coming in from the cold or recovering from a cold, nothing could be more comforting than a warm bowl of soup made with nourishing vegetables.
This soup is a great winter meal.
Hearty Sausage Soup
½ pound hot and spicy sausage
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 cup cubed zucchini
½ tablespoon fresh thyme
2 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper
In a small skillet, cook sausage. Using a spatula, crumble the sausage and drain. Set aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions and cook until tender. Stir in flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Gradually add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and add potatoes and carrot. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in zucchini and thyme. Continue simmering soup until zucchini is cooked.
Stir in milk and half-and-half. Add the cooked sausage. Simmer until soup is heated through. (Do not allow the soup to boil.)
Season with salt and pepper.