I do not think I have to tell any of you about the versatility of soup but since the weather has turned decidedly colder, with snow threatening over the next few days, it is time for a warming soup and a soup that is a meal is even better. Too often we learn about individual foods and their value and seldom do we discuss the value of foods eaten together. It begs a fundamental question: Why did we evolve to eat meals?
Many thousands of years ago, we ate one type of food at a time. We found it. We ate it. But over time, our eating and cooking habits have changed. Still many thousands of years ago, we started combining food and ingredients in recipes and recipes into meals. What did our ancestors learn? Research is attempting to answer this but so far they only are doing it two foods at a time and for a specific condition. For example, one study looked at tomatoes and garlic together, comparing it to garlic and tomatoes alone or water (as the control). It was a mouse study looking the effects of each for a specific type of cancer mechanism. Although the garlic and tomatoes by themselves worked, it was the two of them together that provided the best results.
If we have to go at this rate, it is going to take a long time before we can truly understand the potential synergy of a recipe, let alone a full meal. But I think it is important to say that a meal is more than a sum of its parts. and we do not have to wait until science figures it out. That would not be any fun. We can, instead, let curiosity and our tastes buds guide us. That is how an ancestors figured it out.
The truth about meals is that they are a more effective way to eat. When we wandered and gathered the food that we ate, we did not have much else to do except fight off the odd bear or two. As mankind progressed, we became busier and food had to evolve with us to provide more of the nutrients we needed to meet the demands of long workdays and stress. There is is even a difference between what we need today versus 100-200 years ago. Back then, we worked much more physically and burned more fat. Today we are highly stressed which makes us need more complex carbohydrates to sustain our energy as stress causes us to burn sugar.
It makes sense that as we evolved, our lifestyles created different needs for different types of foods.
We can look at a meal as a means of adding more of the nutrients we want to our body in a convenient fashion. So what nutrients do you want? And what foods do you want to try? Make a list. You can try new recipes if you like but an easier way is to add the new foods to your old recipes. And this brings us back to soup. You can add just about anything to a soup: vegetables, grains or legumes. You can add any type of seasoning and if you pick a soup base you like, whether it is one you make yourself or your favourite natural brand, it will already taste good to you. More importantly, you will seldom go wrong with adding any new food to soup unlike other types of recipes. You can add kale to a cookie or garlic to your oatmeal but you might not like the results.
The Carrot and Kale Ginger Soup I made on the weekend is a perfect example. A delicious carrot soup base with added ginger provides lots of carotenoids and the healing power of ginger. I added kale and cabbage, two members of the amazing cruciferous vegetables family. The soup provides lots of sulfur from the garlic and onions and they are also both good prebiotic foods. I also added yellow and green zucchini so that the squash family is represented because what is a fall soup without a member of the squash family. Legumes in the form a small red beans were included, too. Now I do not like legumes but I do appreciate their special unique health properties. They contain complex carbohydrates that sustain energy for hours and lots of vitamins, mineral, fiber and phyto-nutrients. They also contain a good amount of protein. More importantly, I can hide them in the soup so I do not really taste them. And finally when I serve it, I top it with sauerkraut and Mediterranean yogurt, adding two fermented foods to the meal.
Put it all together and it’s a soup that provides a large number of nutrients, many of which research has shown to be anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, help stabilize blood sugar, help heart health and more. I added my favourite kamut bread toast to complete the meal.
So continue reading about new foods or even old foods, and when they sound like they are the ones for you, try to use them to make your favourite recipes even better.
Tip: When making soup, make a large batch and freeze it in individual containers so you have quick, easy meals ready to go.
Tomato and garlic by gavage modulate 7,12-dimethylbenz