With both my husband and myself pursuing careers and trying to keep up with our higher education courses, as well as making time in our lives for our family and our selves, we sometimes feel that we’re victims of a time crunch. Usually we do a pretty good job of trying not to bite off more than we can chew, and prioritizing the things that we value. But there are still a great many times when there’s an unexpected deadline at work, or the buses are running late, or there’s an exam coming up or essay that’s due. That’s when the short winter days feel even shorter still. It’s tempting at those times to let things slip, and to grab some unhealthy fast food on the way home from work. However, when I’m compromising on the food I eat, it only seems to make matters worse.
What’s needed on days like those is a simple, nutritious supper that can be ready in minutes. At this time of the year, the season of runny noses, the answer is very often a hearty, nutritious bowl of soup. So when I have the time, I make a large batch and freeze it in meal sized portions. Then, when there is no time to cook, it takes just a few minutes to heat up in a sauce pan. Add a good, crusty loaf of whole grain bread or a French baguette, and maybe a quickly tossed green salad, you’ll feel like you’ve got a delicious, and healthy, meal.
Now, making a good batch of soup is something that should not be rushed. The best thing is to set aside a good rainy afternoon, put on some relaxing music, and break out the largest cooking pot you have. The trick is in letting the ingredients simmer and lightly bubble in the pot, filling your living space with the delicious aromas of garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger, herbs or whatever else you wish to throw in. With the herbs, I always try to have them fresh. After all, it takes very little effort to plant a few seeds in a pot and leave it on the window sill.
Many people feel that making a soup is a good way to use up those wilted, rubbery vegetables that have accumulated in the crisper of the fridge. True, it is a good way not to waste those things. However, I’ve always found that the best soups come from the best and freshest vegetables. You can’t fool your taste buds.
No matter how you slice it, a hearty vegetable soup is a far cheaper alternative than a steak from the butcher shop or a prepared meal from the deli. By always trying to buy what’s in season, and on sale, it’s possible to treat yourself to the best produce that’s available, hopefully organic. Happy simmering!