It's Fall: The Kitchen is Calling

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff

This post was written by Lisa Markley, MS, RDN, who, along with Jill, co-authored the #1 best selling Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

I’ve cooked more this week than I have in quite awhile. Until now, I’ve been so busy adjusting to life with a newborn and working with Jill on launching our Essential Thyroid Cookbook that the act of cooking has been somewhat out of reach (ironic, isn’t it?!).

My Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Stew >

[Photo credit: Kenny Johnson, for The Essential Thyroid Cookbook]

Meals dropped off by family and friends have helped nourish my family and bought me some much needed time away from the stove. 

Something palpably shifted for me this week. I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but it’s as if a switch automatically flipped. I’ve been called back into the kitchen…and it feels so refreshing. 

As we transition to the milder autumn days and cooler nights, I’m feeling inspired to cook with what’s in season and I’m gravitating towards one-pot recipes like soup or chili. This time of year, I find that our bodies can stay balanced and satisfied by incorporating more warming and grounding foods such as root vegetables, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and beans. 

Soup and chili become the perfect simple evening meal. The warmth of a bowl of soup can satisfy hunger and the endless combinations of ingredients provide us with a broad spectrum of nutrients – all in one bowl. 

Additionally, seasoning these dishes with warming spices like ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon not only contribute flavor, but also stimulate circulation and generate warmth from within the body. 

You don’t always need a recipe to make a great soup. The key is layering different flavors together and adding certain ingredients at just the right time during the cooking process. 

I’ve outlined seven easy steps for creating delicious and nutritious soups that will keep your belly nourished and satisfied this autumn. 

  1. Most soups begin with a foundation of flavor created by aromatics such as onions, garlic, carrots, and/or celery. Begin by sautéing these vegetables in the pot and let them sweat for a few minutes to allow their flavors to concentrate. If using dried herbs or spices, it’s best to incorporate them at this time, just after your aromatics have begun to sweat.
  2. The next step is to fill your pot with a flavorful liquid of your choice. Vegetable, chicken, or mushroom broths are great options for imparting savory flavors and are easy to make from scratch. But if time is a limitation, opt for low-sodium broths packed in rectangular aseptic packages and avoid high sodium bouillon cubes and canned concentrates. Tomato purees and coconut milk can also contribute amazing flavor to your soup base, so be sure to stock them in your pantry. 
  3. There are a variety of healthful protein options to make your soup nice and hearty. When using most animal proteins, you’ll want to season and cook them most of the way before adding to the soup pot. I prefer grass-fed beef, organic chicken, or sustainably-raised shrimp. If using shrimp, simply add to the pot during the last 5 minutes and gently simmer until done.
  4. Plant based proteins like beans or lentils are inexpensive, nutrient dense choices loaded with antioxidants and fiber. When using dried beans, soak them overnight then discard the soaking liquid before adding to the soup pot. Small beans like lentils don’t require soaking and tend to cook faster. Dried beans or lentils should be added to the soup just after you add your soup base and will need ample time to cook thoroughly. Using canned beans is an amazing shortcut – they don’t need to be simmered for very long or they’ll start to fall apart. I recommend selecting salt- and preservative-free beans that come in a BPA-free can. Drain and rinse them first, then add in during the last 10 minutes or so of cooking.
  5. Fiber-rich whole grains are wonderful to incorporate into soups and stews. Some nutrient-dense grains you may consider include wild rice, forbidden rice, amaranth, or quinoa. They can be added at the same time you add your liquid base to allow for ample cooking time. When using grains in a soup, be sure to have adequate cooking liquid to prevent the grains from soaking it all up.
  6. If you want to make a creamy soup that’s dairy-free, thicken it by simply pureeing some of the vegetables and broth together, or blend it with cashew butter for a velvety texture. Hand-held immersion blenders are amazing tools that create soups with smoother textures. If you don’t have one, you can simply use a blender. Take great care in transferring the hot soup to the blender – be sure not to overfill the container, tightly secure the lid, and cover with a towel before pureeing.
  7. Once your soup has had plenty of time to cook and you’re ready to pull it off the burner, add in an element of freshness. Place a handful of greens like chopped kale or baby spinach into individual soup bowls and let the heat of the soup wilt the greens. Brighten your soup with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice or use fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, or chives for vibrant flavor. For a savory or crunchy garnish, try toasted nori, pumpkin seeds, or croutons.

Lastly, be sure to check out our Confident Cook feature in the October issue of Experience Life Magazine for my delicious Grass-Fed Beef and Quinoa Chili recipe and Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Stew.

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff


Thanks for the wonderful cookbook.

You are so welcome!

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