Soup bowl There’s no better time than National Soup Month to sit down to a hot, delicious bowl of soup to help warm you up! But soups not only warm us up on cold days but fulfill our need for nutrients. What better way to stay healthy than to eat a bowl of chicken noodle or tomato soup?

Soups are a great option nutritionally since they provide us with lots of important nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories. Soup can be a simple addition to any meal and a great way to make sure that you get the essential servings of whole grains, vegetables, and protein in one bowl.

Although some canned soups can be healthy, they are often very high in sodium which can cause an increase in blood pressure and leads to a higher risk of developing heart disease. Sticking to low sodium, broth-based canned soups would be the healthier way to go but preparing homemade soups can provide many more health benefits. Preparing your own homemade soups allows you to control the nutritional value by adding plenty of vegetables, whole grains, healthy protein, and herbs which naturally flavors your soup and allows you to skip the extra sodium. Other benefits of cooking homemade soup are that it tends to be more cost-efficient. Traditionally, the purpose of soup was to decrease cost and waste by creating a great meal while using up leftovers from your refrigerator and pantry.

Tomato soupSoup is not just a part of our culinary history, it is a part of our cultures too. Believe it or not, there are a number of soups around the world that are enjoyed cold. Some examples are Spanish gazpacho, which features tomatoes and vegetables; Jewish schav, which contains sorrel; French vichyssoise, with leeks and potatoes; Danish buttermilk soup which is called kaernemaelkskoldskaal, and in Poland a soup featuring beets, sour cream, shellfish, and pickles, called chlodnik, is a favorite.

Another spotlight on soup was Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup Cans paintings from 1962. Who doesn’t know these famous paintings? At that time there were 32 different types of soup available from Campbell’s and the paintings represented each of those flavors.

Soup bowlsAnd in just about every culture, from an early age, we are told to eat chicken soup if we get sick. This has been a remedy dating back to the 12th century when Moshe ben Maimonides, an Egyptian Jewish physician, and philosopher, praised its health benefits. In 2000, the ancient remedy gained acceptance as we learned that chicken broth really can reduce inflammatory symptoms. It turns out Grandma knew what she was talking about when she told us to eat that soup!

So if you are looking for an immune system boost, want to try the flavors from distant lands, or just want to enjoy a classic favorite, surely there is a soup that will delight you. When it comes to soups, there are so many choices! Whether you make French onion, baked potato, creamy squash, split pea, or beef or chicken vegetable, these filling soups are a staple of winter meals. It’s a month-long celebration, so make them all!

Blog written by Debi Kopman, Life Enrichment Director for Sonoma Hills Retirement