January 10, 2013

All Soups Are Good For The Soul

January is National Soup Month, so I thought that I would write a blog about the often forgotten meal of soup. I really love soup. Like really love it. Now, I am not talking about soups from a can. In fact, I do not know that I would really call those soups.

Soups are usually pretty easy to make from scratch and incredibly tasty. My all-time favorite soups are definitely tomato soup, tomato bisque, corn chowder, veggie stew, and mushroom soup. It was hard for me to actually commit to my favorite soups because I really love all kinds of soups. What is nice about soups is that they come in different varieties; there is the stew, the bisque, the chowder, and the coulis.

Stews first. For the meat eater, beef stew is quite possibly one of the healthiest meals to eat. Not only does it satisfy the carnivore within but it also provides a solid helping of vegetables. Usually, these are lower in calories averaging about 200 calories per serving. Because they are typically made from a beef stock, they are a little higher in fat than other stews, but beef stew is still a healthy alternative to other meals.

For the vegetarian, and really even the meat eater, vegetable stews are hard to beat. They are stock full of veggie goodness, low in calories, low in fat, and high in nutrients. The vegetable broth in conjunction with the tomato base is simply delectable. Plus, one can add any number of different veggies. Yum. Yum.

Next, onto the bisque. This is perhaps one of my favorite soups. It is definitely higher in fat content than other stews because it is usually made with milk or cream, but I just think of it as balancing out the food groups. As I stated earlier, tomato bisque is one of my favorite soups of all time. It is rich in tomato flavor and balanced with cream. It is thick and filling without the sensation of eating too much. And it pairs well with sandwiches and salads. It may not be as hearty as a stew, but it allows us to eat other foods with it.

Bisques come in many varieties and flavors. Try one out. Oh, one word to the wise, often these come from a shellfish stock, so make sure you aren’t allergic. I have made them from vegetable broth before, though. Maybe that means they aren’t a bisque then, but whatever. I still classify them that way.

Third comes the chowder. Everyone has heard of the clam chowder, a very thick, creamy soup with carrots, potatoes, and clams served with saltine crackers that we crumble up and mix in to make the soup even thicker. Well, just about every chowder follows that same pattern only with different ingredients. I like a good corn chowder. Like the bisque, these are higher in fat, but still tasty and filling.

Finally, comes the coulis, which is a thick sauce made from pureed and strained vegetables and fruits. Yep, the classic tomato soup is definitely a coulis. These are simple soups stock full of flavor and nutrients. Sometimes they are even used as a base for other foods. I usually eat these as a side with my meals. Like the bisque, they pair well with sandwiches and salads but also with potatoes, proteins, and other foods.

Soups are so great because they can be eaten as a main course, a side, or even an appetizer. Soups can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. They can be served warm (like all the soups I mentioned above) or cold (like gazpacho and fruit soups). Soups are tasty, healthy—at least for the most part—and pretty easy to prepare. And usually, they make enough for leftovers. Leftover soup only gets better with time.

In recognition of National Soup Month, take time this January to try new soups. Make your own and taste the difference.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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