What are the best superfoods for making superfood soups?
Ah yes, superfood soups! One of my personal favorite subjects, for several reasons: one, it’s SOUP (quite possibly the best food ever); two, superfood soups are full of SUPERFOODS, which as you’ve probably noticed is kind of our thing around here; and three, I just released a new book called Superfood Soups with over 100 new recipes inside, which I could not be more excited about! So yes, let’s talk some soup!
One of the many benefits of superfood soups is just how flexible in nature they are. They’re exceptionally easy to adjust and personalize with many of the superfoods you may already have in your kitchen. I go through the top soup-friendly superfoods in detail in the book, and map out exactly how to use them to enjoy their maximum nutrition and flavor. But throughout the process of making the hundreds of soup batches (literally) for the book, I noticed there was a smaller, capsule collection of superfoods that were by far the most easy to use in the widest variety of soup recipes. Look to these 5 ingredients as you make your own recipes this season, as they are what I would consider essential superfoods for any soup lover.
I know what you’re thinking: aren’t goji berries a fruit? Fruit in soups? YES – because goji berries are not just any fruit! In fact, the first recorded uses of goji berries are in ancient (and current) Chinese medicine, where goji berries are traditionally steeped in hot water and enjoyed as a tea. Similarly, when submerged in a warm soup while cooking, goji berries impart a slightly sweet, tea-like flavor that blends extremely well with ingredients like onions, squash, roots, and pulses. Plus, their massive collection of antioxidants including carotene, lycopene, and zeaxanthin make your nutrient gains add up fast!
Regular mushrooms are healthy, but medicinal mushrooms take the benefits to the next level (for example, when comparing white button mushrooms to shiitake, shiitake mushrooms are about 100 times more effective at enhancing the immune system.) From boasting anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-cancer activities … to supporting the health of the liver, lungs, kidneys, and blood sugar … the healing powers of these special superfoods is almost overwhelming. Fresh medicinal mushrooms, like shiitake and maitake, can add welcome umami flavor to stews and hearty recipes. For lighter soups – or for those individuals who don’t care for the flavor of mushrooms, using medicinal mushroom powders like cordyceps and reishi is an excellent and super easy way to go, as they have little to no flavor in small quantities.
Whether blended into a soup to act like a healthy “cream,” left whole for a delectable soft and chewy texture, or sprinkled on top as an attractive garnish, hemp seeds are practically made for soups! Plus, their sunflower-like flavor goes with virtually all types of savory ingredients, from greens to grains. At 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoons, hemp seeds are an excellent way to add protein to soups, and their healthy fats like Omega 3’s (including the rare and superbly anti-inflammatory GLA) are an amazing way to infuse well-rounded nutrition.
If you’re already a fan of maca powder, you likely know how well maca works as an adaptogenic energy food in things like smoothies. But due to its strong flavor, it may come as a surprise to learn just how delicious maca is in soups, too! Lest we forget that maca is actually a root, and goes extremely well with other roots of all varieties, as well as squashes and tubers. Add the fact that maca actually tastes even better warm than it does cold, and it becomes understandable why this special superfood is such a soup staple.
Seaweeds have been used in soups in coastal communities around the world ever since soups have been on the menu! But dulse flakes – a special deep water red seaweed – have a particularly flexible function and flavor. Thanks to their salty, umami-rich taste, dulse flakes are delicious when added to all kinds of lentil and bean stews, chowders, and heartier pureed soups. And thanks to being packed with minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and naturally occurring sodium, they are a great pantry-staple to have on hand as a booster for all kinds of soups.
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