Five hearty, healthy winter soups

Five hearty, healthy winter soups

Credit: Caitlin Murphy

“Edible Magazine” editor and “Tea & Cookies” blogger Tara Weaver loves this recipe for White Bean and Kale Soup since it can stand for a meal. Plus the kale is a great cold-weather crop in the Northwest, and frost on the leaves actually brings out the vegetable’s flavor.



Posted on February 21, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 21 at 1:55 PM

What’s better during the cold winter months than warming up with a bowl of soup? Not the kind from a can, but homemade bowls that fill your house with savory aromas, pack a nutritional punch and enrich your soul.

To help make that dream a reality, five northwest food bloggers shared their recipes for hearty and healthy winter soups.

White Bean and Kale Soup

Tea & Cookies” food blogger and “Edible Seattle” magazine editor Tara Weaver appreciates winter soups that can stand up as a meal, like her white bean and kale recipe.

“This one takes very ordinary ingredients — beans, kale, onion, canned tomatoes — and makes it something healthful and hearty,” she said.

The recipe is also quite versatile. Weaver suggests adding sausage, replacing the pasta with a side of crusty bread or even topping the soup with a poached egg.

You’ll find protein and fiber from the beans, vitamins from the kale and the antioxidant lycopene from the tomatoes. One of the biggest benefits of this soup, Weaver added, is that it leaves you feeling satiated. 

“This time of year it's easy to go for starchy comfort food, but I find a good, chunky soup can do the same job without piling on empty calories,” she said.

Moroccan Lamb Stew

A certified nutrition and health coach, Sarah Adler’s philosophy focuses on using whole foods to create streamlined, simple recipes, hence the name of her company, Simply Real Health

Adler’s Moroccan Lamb Stew can be made with or without organic meat, and includes garbanzo beans, dates, carrots, sweet potatoes, olives, tomatoes, garlic, onion and a combination of Moroccan, Indian and Mediterranean-inspired spices.

“This is one of my very favorite winter stews. It’s a crowd-pleasing, hearty one-pot meal,” she said. “The carrot, sweet potatoes, dates and olives really give a lot of depth and flavor to all the other ingredients, making it a satisfying and warming dish in the winter.”

And according to Adler, it’s easy to make. The recipe features more ingredients than the typical meals she makes, but it’s well worth it, she said.

“It makes a huge batch that you can freeze and use in a variety of ways,” Adler said. “You only have one pot to clean up and it’s an entire meal in itself.”

Health perks include highly absorbable protein from the organic meat and beans, plus anti-viral and anti-inflammatory benefits from the fresh ginger, paprika, cumin and cinnamon.

“This is a great winter meal because it’s warm, satisfying, healthy, and immune-boosting.” Adler said. “It’s complex enough in flavor to make you feel like you’re eating a fancy meal without having to go out.”

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema and Avocado

If you peruse chef Karista Bennett’s blog “Karista’s Kitchen,” you’ll find sumptuous recipes made with fresh northwest ingredients. Among these is her Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema and Fresh Avocado.

Bennett said the soup is “a warm and just slightly spicy soup of black beans, aromatics, peppers and fragrant spices, including a rich and enticing chipotle powder and hint of cinnamon, lime and of course avocado.”

It’s easy to make, and Bennett suggests partially pureeing the black beans to add little bit of texture to the soup.

And health benefits from black beans abound. Bennett said the soups boasts “a nice amount of plant protein as well as phytonutrients and soluble fiber, and is rich in folate and magnesium, which benefit our cardiovascular system.” 

She added that one tablespoon of chili power contains 44 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for immune-system support since it helps keep mucus membranes healthy and able to fight off viruses — something we all need in the wintertime.

“This spicy black bean soup will truly feed your soul,” Bennett said.

Creamy Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup

“I call this soup ‘cram as many vegetables into my kids in a way they love as possible,’” said chef Kirsten Helle. 

Not only does Helle write about food on her blog Mesa de Vida, she is also a personal chef and fitness and nutrition consultant. 

Not one to deprive herself of taste, Helle created the Creamy Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup with layered garlic, celery and thyme, making it intensely delicious. She also has a few tips for creating indulgent but still healthy soups. 

“Sweating the aromatics, then lifting the flavor with lemon juice or another acidic component such as white wine creates a depth of flavor and balance,” Helle said. “Simmering the soup down and reducing it [is also] a great trick to make very flavorful soups.”

The butternut squash and cauliflower in this recipe are at their peak of freshness in the winter. Plus, the soup is packed with other vegetables like celery, onion and carrots, making it high in antioxidants. The pureed preparation helps retain the ingredients’ fiber content and you can simply omit the half-and-half to keep the fat content and calorie-count low.

Roasted Root Soup and Savory Granola

“I’ve been on a soup kick recently,” says Drumbeets food blogger Aubrey Jenkins. A quick scroll through her blog will quickly reveal why.

A passionate and adventurous cook, Jenkins is also a food photographer and captures each delicious morsel with such expertise that your mouth will water. Her mission is to inspire readers to eat mindfully with a focus on whole foods, seasonal ingredients and healthful alternatives.

Jenkins’ recipe for Roasted Root Soup and Savory Granola can be easily adapted with a variety of root vegetables. However, she said, “Beets add vibrant color and an earthy sweetness that is comforting on a cold winter evening.” 

Beets are also one of the healthiest foods on the planet and contain cold and flu fighting antioxidants.

“Root vegetables, seeds and nuts are full of antioxidants, which work to strengthen your immune system and decrease inflammation in your body,” Jenkins said.

Speaking of seeds and nuts, the granola can also work as a snack or fibrous topping for salad. 

“Enjoy the textures and spices in this savory granola, and forget about the sugar-loaded granolas you find in stores.”

These five soup recipes are flavorful and delicious enough to warrant a few more chilly, rainy days this season. So grab a nice, big pot and some fresh produce and start simmering those winter blues away.