Warm & Filling Soups for Cold Weather Days

Soup is a perfect January food. It’s warm and filling for the cold weather. It’s cheap (or it can be), which our shell-shocked bank accounts appreciate after the holidays. It’s quick and easy when we’re tired and grumpy. And it’s a great way to lose some extra weight, if the rich holiday foods were just a little too plentiful for you this year.

When you eat a McDougall-style soup (no/very low fat) you can have all the soup you want—2 bowls, 3, whatever you need to feel satiated—and not worry about counting calories. Soup is based on water, so a lot of what you’re filling up with is that zero-calorie stuff our bodies need so badly. Base your soup on vegetables and whole grains and you’re getting vitamins, minerals, complex carbs for energy, protein from the grains—but no fat.

If you’ve got the winter blues, starving yourself is the last thing you need. Eat lots—but eat well—and you’ll feel satisfied AND lose weight.

Soup can be as simple or as tricky as you want it to be. If you take the time to sauté the onions and garlic in the beginning, add the different ingredients at different times, and then finish up by pureeing half of it and topping with a cashew cream—you’ll spend more time in the kitchen. For some of you that’s perfect. You love to cook and your kitchen is warm and cozy when it’s pouring outside.

But some of you don’t like to cook, and you’d rather be on e-mail or out running in the downpour. In that case, fill a pot with water, throw in your favorite grains and veggies, go do e-mail while it simmers for about 30 minutes (not including dried beans), season with salt and pepper and you’ll sit down to a big bowl of rich soup with hardly any effort.

Remember, when it comes to soup, you want to make it yours: I am giving you only the barebones of seasoning. You may wish to add more salt, pepper, chili powder, tamari, garlic, etc.

Here are my favorite soup combos, and recipes for 3 more soups below.

  • White bean and chard, kale or collards
  • Brown rice and carrots and squash
  • Quinoa and broccoli
  • Curried cauliflower with red lentils
  • Brown lentils and mushrooms and whatever veggies I have on hand
  • White bean and Napa cabbage
  • Black bean and sweet potato
  • Potato chowder

There are some things I do for any soup:

  1. I rarely use vegetable broth. If you buy it it’s too salty (yes, I said that) and it’s expensive and it’s too strong—it takes over the flavor. I like to base my soups on water. If I want an extra boost of flavor I might use half stock and half water, or all stock if I’ve made it and it’s mild.
  2. I use either canned beans, or I cook the beans first in a separate pot or pressure cooker. If you keep canned, cooked beans in your pantry then you’ll always be able to make a quick and filling soup.
  3. I prefer fresh, seasonal veggies—but don’t hesitate to use frozen. Good organic frozen veggies can actually have more nutrients than fresh! This saves time on chopping and clean-up, too. If using frozen veggies means you’ll eat soup instead of a bag of potato chips—use them. Keep your freezer stocked. A pot of water, quinoa, and frozen veggies will give you a great dinner in about 15 minutes!

Here are three easy, filling, inexpensive recipes for
Lentil Stew
Mushroom Barley Soup
Cheating Black Bean Chili

Lentil Stew
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, diced
¼ cup white wine
2 stalks celery, diced
1 sweet potato or yam, peeled and diced

½ head cabbage, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tb ground cumin
1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
4 cups water (or stock if you prefer)
1 can (28 oz) plum tomatoes, chopped, with the juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

-Sauté onions and carrots in wine in large, heavy pot over medium-low heat; cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.
-Add garlic and celery and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring.
-Add cumin and cook 1 minute longer.
-Add lentils, broth, tomatoes, cabbage and cinnamon stick. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Stir in parsley (and any other chopped fresh herbs) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
**Remember, you can cheat and skip the first couple of steps. Simply throw everything in the pot at once and walk away while it cooks. But don’t walk too far away.

Mushroom Barley Soup

6 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup barley
1 onion — chopped
1 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb dried parsley
2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp wasabi powder
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms — sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage

-Place the water, barley, onion and seasonings in a large pot. Cover and
cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
-Add the mushrooms and cabbage and cook for another15 minutes.

Cheating Black Bean Chili

Recipe By Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves — minced or pressed
1/2 cup water
1 Tb ground cumin
1 Tb ground coriander

1 cup prepared red salsa (optional)
2 red and/or green bell peppers — chopped
3 cups cooked black beans (OR two 15-ounce cans — drained and rinsed)
3 cups canned whole tomatoes — with juice (OR 28-ounce can)
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (OR 11-ounce package)
salt to taste
Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce to — to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro — or to taste (optional)

-In a covered soup pot, cook the onions and garlic in the water on high

heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
-Add the cumin and coriander and stir on high heat for a minute.
-Stir in the salsa and bell peppers, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Add the black beans and tomatoes; simmer for 10 minutes.
-Add the corn and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and Tabasco to taste. Stir in the cilantro, if desired.

**Again, you can cheat on the cheating chili and skip the sauté step. Throw everything in the pot together and cook. This chili is great served with a pot of rice.


  1. Awsome site !!!

    Thanks to be here

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