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Healthy Bites: Soup sneaks veggies into diet

By Judy Grigoraci

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Soup can be one of the best comfort foods. A hearty soup is an easy way to disguise extra servings of vegetables, whole grains and beans.

Anyone who has ever fed children knows about slipping something good into food. Whenever I felt our children weren't getting enough vegetables, I made a pot of minestrone, which happened to be one of their favorites. I don't think they realized there were veggies in it.

I also used to put out pitted black olives, which they would slide onto their fingers as gruesome fingernails before they popped them into their mouth. Or stuff celery with peanut butter -- a snack that one child called "peanut butter and lettuce."

A broth-based soup is generally low-calorie and you don't have to make your own broth or stock. I took the time and effort once, from curiosity, and it didn't taste any better than what good old Swanson does every day. Be sure to select the reduced-sodium and reduced-fat option.

One study has actually found that the age-old remedy of eating chicken soup when laid up with a cold seems to reduce congestion and coughing. I know a recipe isn't a prescription, but with today's soup, I feel I'm doing my part to help you through the coming winter. Gesundheit!

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Rice

Makes 4 servings.

     2    14-ounce cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

     1    cup chopped broccoli florets

     1    cup chopped cauliflower florets

     1     carrot, thinly sliced

     1     teaspoon dried oregano

     1     teaspoon dried basil

     1     teaspoon ground cumin

     Salt and pepper

     1/2  cup instant brown rice

     1    cup chopped cooked chicken breast

     1/4  cup Romano or Parmesan cheese

COMBINE broth, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, oregano, basil and cumin in large saucepan; simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes; stir in rice and cook 5 minutes longer.

ADD chicken and simmer until heated through and flavors blended, about 10 minutes.

STIR in salt and pepper to taste.

LADLE into bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Nutrition information: Per 1/4 recipe: 176 calories, 5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 217 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 20 grams protein.

Reach Judy Grigoraci at jg@suddenlink.net.


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