Autumn’s Harvest: Delicious, Healthy Soups You Can Freeze

Turning autumn produce into healthy soups

My 5-year-old son, Jack, loves the book Growing Vegetable Soup, written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert. This beautiful book has illustrations of a wide variety of vegetables and motivates Jack and me to get going with our garden each spring. Here’s an excerpt from the book: 

Dad says we are going to grow vegetable soup. We're ready to work, and our tools are ready, too. We are planting the seeds, and all of the sprouts, and giving them water, and waiting for the warm sun to make them grow, and grow, and grow into plants. We watch over them and weed, until the vegetables are ready for us to pick or dig up and carry home. Then we wash them and cut them and put them in a pot of water, and cook them into vegetable soup! At last it's time to eat it all up! It was the best soup ever...and we can grow it again next year.

 

While I realize that most of us don’t have an extensive vegetable garden growing in our backyard, we can use local farmers’ markets to make our own vegetable soups. Scientists at Penn State University have done extensive research that suggests that eating soups and other dense, low-calorie foods is a great way to lose weight.

In other words, low-calorie vegetable soups will fill you up and satiate you for hours without a high-calorie toll. So, with that bit of good news, let’s talk about some of my favorite vegetable soups that can be made with this season's best produce. All of these soups are freezable and can be stored for up to four weeks (probably longer, but I try to eat them within a month) for last-minute lunch ideas or evening snacks to get you through to a late dinner. Take a look at my favorite soup recipes and then be sure to share some of yours below.

 

Traditional Vegetable Stew

I usually use fresh corn to make this stew, but when in a pinch for time, I’ve used frozen corn kernels and it comes out just as good. You can eat it alone as a snack, or add a tossed green salad and a whole-wheat dinner roll to make it into a meal. You can also add any other vegetables that you have on hand!

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

½ of a white onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, cleaned and minced

4 ears of corn, corn cut off of cob (or 3-4 cups of frozen corn kernels)

3 plum tomatoes, diced

1 16-ounce can of chopped tomatoes in juice

2 zucchini, cut into ½-inch rounds

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch rounds

2 cups of canned white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

3 cups vegetable broth or water

cup chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the corn, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes and zucchini rounds. Stir together and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the beans and about 3 cups of vegetable broth or water, enough to make it wet, but not too thin. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper. 

Makes 6 servings

Nutrition Information per serving (for recipe made with water):

200 calories

38 gm carbohydrate

8 gm protein

3.5 gm fat

5 gm sugar

303 mg sodium

8 gm fiber

Nutrition Information per serving (for recipe made with vegetable broth):

210 calories

39 gm carbohydrate

9 gm protein

4 gm fat

6 gm sugar

803 mg sodium

8 gm fiber

 

Roasted Vegetable Soup

This pureed soup tastes like it must be high in fat and calories, but by using evaporated skim milk the fat and calorie content stays super-low without sacrificing taste. I’ve often made this soup as a first course when having friends over for dinner. No one can believe that it is so nutritious and low-calorie! 

Ingredients:

1 large white onion, peeled and roughly chopped

4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

3 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped

3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth)

½ cup evaporated nonfat milk

Cooking spray

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat two cookie sheets with cooking spray and place the onion, carrots, parsnips and butternut squash on the cookie sheets. Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Then place the roasted vegetables into a large soup pot and add the broth to the vegetables. Heat over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the veggies are completely soft and tender. Then puree the vegetables and broth in a blender or food processor, in batches, until smooth. Add back to the soup pot and stir in the evaporated milk and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings

Nutrition Information per serving:

156 calories

33 gm carbohydrate

5 gm protein

1.5 gm fat

13 gm sugar

106 mg sodium

7 gm fiber

 

Butternut Apple Soup

This soup is sweet and savory and one that your kids may love. I pack this one in my son’s lunch thermos. With some whole-wheat pita chips on the side, he devours this lunch and I feel good about the nutrition that he is getting!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large white onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2 tbsp curry powder

2 large (about 4 pounds) butternut squash, peeled and cubed (look for them pre-peeled and cubed in the produce aisle of your market)

4 sweet apples (such as McIntosh), peeled, cored and cut into quarters

2 cups water

2 cups vegetable broth

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onions. Sautee for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to brown. Add the curry powder and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the squash, apples, water and broth to the pot. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is soft and tender. Puree the soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Garnish with parsley and season with salt and pepper if desired.

Makes 8 servings

Nutrition Information per serving:

167 calories

34 gm carbohydrate

3 gm protein

4 gm fat

15 gm sugar

259 mg sodium

8 gm fiber

 

 

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