A winter must-have, there's nothing like a nourishing bowl of soup to warm you up and make you feel all fuzzy inside. Homemade soup is wonderfully wholesome, as long as you go easy on the salt and saturated fat. “It really is the ultimate healthy meal or snack,” says registered dietitian Nichola Whitehead.
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Soup is warming
Soup is a go-to food when temperatures plummet, and whether you're heading out or coming in from the cold, a quick bowl of your favourite concoction should work wonders warming you up. If you're feeling very chilly, opt for ingredients that help heat the body such as ginger, chilli and spices like cinnamon or cloves, and serve your soup in a mug if your hands need extra warming.
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Soup can provide several of your five-a-day
If you find chewing through plates of steamed or roasted vegetables and salad a bit of a chore, or you're not overly keen on munching away on fruit, soup is a fantastic way to get your five-a-day. Two or three veggies either chopped or whizzed up in a soup provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, and are less of a hassle to eat that way.
Soup is super-hydrating
Drinking enough water during the winter months is rather challenging. Unless you have the heating cranked up to the max, it's unlikely you'll be sweating much, and you may not feel especially thirsty. You can help keep your hydration levels up by eating soup, which of course, has an exceptionally high water content.
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Soup keeps you fuller for longer
Several studies have found that soup can make you feel fuller for longer, and research has shown that regular soup eaters have healthier body mass indexes (BMI). People who eat soup before a main course tend to eat less overall, so consuming some of your calories in the form of soup can keep hunger at bay and help you lose weight, without making you feel like you're depriving yourself.
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Soup can help ease the symptoms of a cold
Often described as 'Jewish penicillin', many people swear by chicken soup as a treatment for the common cold, and science backs this up to some extent. A 2000 study from the US found that this comforting broth calms upper-respiratory inflammation, and research has highlighted its effectiveness at breaking up mucus and helping the cilia of the nose clear away infection.
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Soup can boost your feelings of wellbeing
Regardless of whether soup really does help cure minor ailments or can help you lose weight, there's no denying its wellbeing-boosting properties. Placebo or not, soup is comforting for many people and can give you a welcome lift on the darkest days of the year when you're feeling at your lowest ebb.
Feel-good winter root veg
Soup is easy to cook
Soup is one of the easiest, most stress-free things to cook. You need zero cheffy skills to whip up this mouthwatering homemade delight – it's simply a case of sweating off some onions, leeks or what have you, adding water or stock, and whatever else you fancy, be it root veggies, chicken or greens, and just waiting until everything is cooked through – it couldn't be simpler.
Soup is convenient
Forget ready meals – soup is the last word in convenience food. You can prepare a big batch ahead of time and freeze it in individual portions. If you use your largest saucepan, you can prep lots of meals at the same time, and simply defrost and heat up one of the portions when you're feeling peckish. Beats throwing a supermarket ready meal in the microwave every time.
Visit our soup recipe hub for delicious ideas
Soup can save you money
If you're on a tight budget, soup is your culinary best friend. A thrifty option, vegetable soup in particular won't break the bank and you'll find a little goes a long way. Soup also makes for a fantastic way to use up your leftovers – leftover roasted veg for intance is delicious transformed into soup – you just need to add some stock, heat everything up and blitz the mixture with a blender.
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Strudel made with leftover vegetables
Soup is good for the environment
Soup can help you reduce your carbon footprint to boot. The typical dinner you might cook may involve the use of multiple burners and the oven. Soup on the other hand is a hearty one-pot, one-burner meal, so it's environmentally friendly. Cooking soup instead of a meat and two veg dinner should save you money on your energy bills, too. You can't go wrong.
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