We love to eat soup in our house. Soups are easy to make, good for you, and are versatile in that they make great side dishes or complete meals. You can make hearty soups that are satisfying and delicious, or light soups to accompany a more substantial entree. There is a lot of room for creativity in terms what to make. Soups are also a great way to eat a vegetarian meal if you are trying to get more vegetables and legumes in your diet, or if you're trying to cut back on your meat consumption. Finally, in our home, soups are a nice way to get the kids involved not only in the making of the meal, but in the choice of what soups to make (it's important to let kids know their voice matters).

Now that summer is more than half over, the temperatures are slowly starting to drop and the evenings are starting to get cooler. This makes it a great time to once again enjoy soups as meals. Best of all, for the busy parent, soups can be made in the morning and simply warmed up at supper time, or they can even be made the night before and kept in the fridge.

Here are a few of our favorites. Serve them with a green salad and some crusty bread, or with some pasta or a piece of chicken or fish.

Braised Cauliflower and Kale Soup with Potatoes

This soup is a great way to get your family to eat more cauliflower and kale, two big winners in the healthy eating department. Kale freezes well and can be put directly into the soup from the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 6 cups water
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t fresh ground pepper
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup kale, thick stems removed, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Saute onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and chili powder and cook another 2 minutes. Add cauliflower and mix so the cumin and chili coat the vegetables. Cook until slightly charred, about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat if it starts to burn.

Add water, salt, pepper, potato and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until cauliflower and potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and mix with a blender or hand blender until smooth.

Add kale and cook until kale is slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt as necessary.

Hearty Vegetarian Lentil Soup

This hearty soup is a meal in itself and will please everyone in your family. You can add chicken or sausage to make it even more substantial.

Ingredients

  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • ½ t dried thyme
  • 6 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 pound dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste, about 1 - 1½ t
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Method

Saute onions and celery until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add red and green peppers, carrots, thyme and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (water, bay leaf, salt, pepper, lentils and tomatoes) and bring to a boil. Add chicken or sausage if using. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes.

Serve hot with a crusty bread or side salad.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, or water or chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • I can black beans, drained (or two cups of cooked beans)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup milk (can use cream, soy or rice milk, or skim milk)
  • 1 - 1½ T brown sugar
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Method

Saute onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and saute 1 minute, then add carrots and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn off heat and add milk and brown sugar. Stir and adjust seasoning to your taste.

Serve with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt on top.