Make It Soup-er

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It’s a rainy day as I write this. I’m thinking about making a big pot of soup.
Soup can be simple, nutritious, filling and inexpensive. On top of that, it’s an easy clean-up one pot meal.

Soups are also a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your meals. Try adding an “extra” vegetable to your next batch. The combination of ingredients is unlimited. You can start with fresh, canned or frozen vegetables. Some soups can be quick and cooked in less than 30 minutes, while others are best simmered slow all day.

An Extension colleague from Duplin County, Rachel Ezzell, recently offered a soup
workshop. Here are some the ideas she shared for making simple and nutritious
homemade soups:

  • Look for low-sodium broth, stock or soup base as the foundation. Or make your own vegetable stock from scraps.
  • If using canned vegetables, look for low-sodium or no-salt-added options. If you can’t find low-sodium products, rinsing canned vegetables such as white or kidney beans before use can reduce the amount of sodium by about 30%–every little bit helps.
  • For healthier soups, swap out the heavy cream with low-fat canned condensed milk or whole milk. This reduces both the calories and the saturated fats.
  • If you’re wanting a creamy—but vegan — soup use coconut milk. There are “light” versions on the market that allow you to reduce the saturated fats and
    calories usually found in coconut milk.
  • Add whole grains to soups. This may be your chance to try one of those grains you’ve been wanting to try—how about barley, quinoa, brown rice or whole grain noodles?
  • Use potato flakes for thickness instead of flour or corn starch.
  • Puree or blend the final product for a creamier texture without adding heavy cream or fat. She suggested blending a pureed baked sweet potato into tomato soup as both a thickener flavor change-of-pace.
  • Cook once, eat twice. Homemade soups can be made ahead on time and in large quantities. Eat refrigerated soups within seven days or freeze for later.
  • Garnishes can make any soup “pop”. Add a crunch to it with fun toppings such as roasted chickpeas, crumbled tortilla chips or pumpkin seeds.

The biggest food safety concern when making soup is the need to cool it correctly. Don’t let soup sit at room temperature for more than two hours and don’t put the large pot of hot soup directly into the refrigerator. To speed cooling, divide the soup in to smaller containers before putting it into the refrigerator or freezer so it will cool quickly. Soup can also be chilled in an ice or cold-water bath before refrigerating.

At Ezelle’s workshop, the participants made and sampled three different soup recipes. These included a Salmon Chowder, Coconut Hot and Sour Soup and Super Tomato Soup. She had the class vote on their favorite soup. Here’s the winning recipe. It only takes about 30 minutes to make.

bowl of Salmon ChowderSalmon Chowder

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup carrot, chopped
  • ⅓ cup celery, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup precooked brown and wild rice
  • 1 (3½ ounce) package smoked salmon, torn into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions (for garnish)

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add onion,
carrot, celery, salt, and cayenne pepper and sauté for 4 minutes. Add 2 cups of
water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 8 minutes or until
vegetables are tender. Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Add milk mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly
thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in rice and salmon, and cook for 1 minute or until
thoroughly heated. Sprinkle evenly with green onions before serving.

Use any precooked rice or whole-grain product that you like. The wild rice adds a bit of color and texture difference. You can buy packets if precooked rice or to save money, make a big batch of brown rice and put it in one-cup packets in the freezer to use when making a soup.

The smoked salmon added a “smokey” flavor to the soup, but may be difficult to find and is a little pricey. You could substitute canned salmon.

Makes four one-cup servings. Nutrition per serving: 255 calories, 11 grams protein, 11 grams fat and ½ cup vegetables.

Recipe source:

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610 or by email at