Delicious & Nutritious: A Heart-Healthy, Hearty Winter Soup

There are still 25 days left of winter and I think it’s safe to say we’re in the home stretch to spring, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little stove top cooking for a bit longer before pulling out the grill.  While the cold nights may make us reach for comfort foods filled with fat and sodium, it doesn’t have to be that way. When I think of winter and cooking, I immediately start searching for soup recipes and here’s why!

Creativity. You can easily modify any recipe out there to make it your own. Even if you don’t have a recipe, throw whatever you have in your pantry into a pot. Chances are it’ll turn out great!

You can make a ton all at once. It’s so easy to double or triple the original recipe (as long as you have a big enough pot) to share with friends and family.

Storable. Soup can be easily stored and frozen into individualized portions. To store properly, check out these tips from the USDA

The whole pyramid. We can satisfy many of our food groups in one bowl (grains, proteins, vegetables, and dairy).

Cut the sodium. It’s still American Heart Month! Canned soups can contain a lot of added sodium. With soup made from scratch, you can control how much salt you add so you don’t go over your limit.

The recipe below from Two Peas and Their Pod is super simple to make and I’ve found the mushrooms and barley in this one to give it a meaty and hearty texture. If barley is new to you, this link from The Whole Grains Council will provide you with information on its’ nutritional benefits.

Bon appetit!

Mushroom & Barley Soup

Ingredients

1 cup barley (Can be found packaged or in bulk)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion (large, chopped)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

2 carrots (peeled and diced)

2 celery stalks (diced)

1 pkg white button mushrooms (sliced)

45 ozs low sodium or no salt added vegetable broth (You can always substitute chicken broth)

5 cups water

2 bay leaves

2 tbsps fresh thyme (minced)

Directions

  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring 4 cups of water and 1 cup of barley to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the barley is soft
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
  3. Add the onion and garlic
  4. Once softened, add the carrots and celery. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes
  5. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until tender
  6. Add the vegetable broth, water, bay leaves, and fresh thyme. Simmer for about 10 minutes
  7. Stir in the cooked barley and cook for 15 minutes or until heated through
  8. Remove the bay leaves before serving and add salt/pepper to taste

Enjoy cooking and check out these Salt Facts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to make your February a heart healthier one!

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