Vegetable soups: why we should always eat them

METEREat like your grandmother. It could be the synthesis of thousands of investigations on nutritionwith some astonishment. But how, some will say, backward scientific progress? In fact, the results of the studies encourage us to rediscover old eating habits and consider a peasant diet, let’s call it that. Physicians who teach at Harvard, for example, have hardly sung soups’ praises. “There is no more comforting food on a winter’s day than a bowl of steaming soup,” reads one of the college’s popular articles. “With the right ingredients, it can help increase your intake of important plant sources and nutrients.”

Vegetables and legumes are the basis of gastronomic cultures around the world and eating it is always, systematically, associated with a longer existence. A person, just reproducing behaviors that were his ancestors, with an extra dose of minestrone, potentially prevents obesity and diabetes, strokes and heart attacks, atherosclerosis and cancer.

Beans or chickpeas provide protein, are cheap, protect health and are respectful of the planet. The FAO has declared that legumes “promote biodiversity and sustainable agriculture, contribute to the reduction of climate change, can improve soil fertility.”

The lard lurking in the terrine? It is a lot of tradition, but it is not essential to guarantee flavor and satiety (Getty Images)

In slimming regimens

A soup cooked in the old fashioned way is low in calories, very rich in fiber, hydrated and filling.. A team conducting a study of two groups of volunteers (published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012) found that dining with soup makes you feel fuller than eating a solid meal. It may be because the dish fills the stomach because it has a larger volume, given by the vegetables and liquids, but the researchers noted that the influence on blood glucose levels is also different.

Legumes find their place in balanced slimming diets. An experimental study published in 2013 verified the effects of bean consumption on the feeling of satisfaction, which lasts for hours..

The volunteers were asked to alternate white bread and legumes at dinner. Upon awakening, a standardized breakfast was offered and tests were carried out: it turned out that you ate less in the morning if you had beans the night before and that the release of hormones that regulate satiety was greater.

Thicken with chia seeds

Preparation methods are important, of course.. A zucchini and pea soup softened with cream and seasoned with butter tickles the palate but is not comparable for a nutritionist, with all those saturated fats, to a cream flavored with extra virgin olive oil, which instead has good, unsaturated .

Diet and cancer prevention: expert recommendations

Diet and cancer prevention: expert recommendations

To thicken, if possible, you can use chia seeds, which in turn are rich in omega-3 and mucilage, special soluble fibers that absorb a lot of water.: better to start with a small quantity, wait five minutes and evaluate the result, possibly adding more until the desired density is reached.

Minestrone as a single dish

The minestrone can be composed only of vegetables (and in this case the meal must be completed with a second course and bread or pasta), or create a unique dish, adding legumes and cereals or potatoes. You don’t feel the need for industrial stock cubes and sautéed onions – minestrone is still interesting if you boil it all down and season it with extra virgin olive oil at the end.

And the vitamins? It is true, in water for 20-30 minutes the content of thermolabile vitamins in some vegetables is reduced or eliminated.

But the carotenoids, phytocompounds, are not lost It is found in pumpkin or carrots and is full of fiber, which is why it is recommended to reduce the absorption of fats and sugars during digestion and to protect against colon cancer. Among other things, the cooking liquid, a constituent part of the dish, is full of minerals released by the vegetables.

vegetable soups

Bean, chickpea or lentil soups are part of the tradition. When the legumes are dry (50 gram portion, equivalent to 3-4 medium tablespoons), they are poured into cold water and given an old time to soften, unless soaking is unavoidable, as in the case of legumes. lentils.

The next step in the kitchen, more or less long, is not a problem, because beneficial compounds are poorly susceptible to heat. On the contrary, with cooking vegetable proteins become more digestible and iron is better assimilated.

Speaking of proteins: it is advisable to eat legumes as a single dish with bread, pasta, spelt or other cereals. Legumes and cereals together provide man with the complete bouquet of essential amino acids.which are the building blocks of proteins. Both contain complex carbohydrates, so the portion of ditalini or rice is cut in half (40 and not 80 grams).

The piece of butter is omitted without scandal in certain recipes, while a lightly fried onion, shallot or leek can be considered as a base. Finally, with the soup on the plate, a pinch of fresh chilli guarantees vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron from chickpeas or beans.

Below zero yes or no?

Frozen minestrone is a practical solution to enjoy a healthy dish, as long as the ingredients include only vegetables and no additives, thickeners, salt or fats. The expression “vegetable broth”, for example, is suspect if the ingredients used are not explicit.

Frozen vegetables (photo Getty Images).

In the market there are soups that announce the presence of 15 vegetables but potatoes, beans and peas are part of the bouquet. So, starchy vegetables and legumes. If so, that minestrone is perfectly fine as a single dish (with a small addition of cereal or bread if the potato quota is reduced).

quick recipes

Frozen legumes (150 gram portion) do not lose their qualities which make it a healthy food and are ready in 15-30 minutes. For those who are in a hurry they are an option legume flours, which lend themselves to quick recipes.

offer a shortcut red lentils, which cook in a few tens of minutesand another is the pressure cooker, with which the legumes quickly travel to the plate: the beans are ready in half an hour (even if they have to be soaked).

broths and flu

On cold days the broth is comforting, bubbling in the pots, ready to tame risottos and soups or to accompany pasta. All the time, the rule is to start with very cold water and bring it to a boil “adagino adagino”as the gourmet Pellegrino Artusi wrote.

Coarsely chopped celery, carrot and onion are the perfect triad, parsley and bay leaf are the classic herbs. Preparing the vegetable broth is very simple, taking care to add the salt towards the end of cooking, when the liquid will not shrink much.

It seems that the key ingredient to flavor soups is celery (photo Getty Images).

All warm liquids relieve inflammation in the airways and help against nasal a result of the vasodilatory effect. However, the first traces of the use of chicken broth as an antidote against the flu date back to the year 1200.

In the early 2000s, in vitro studies were conducted that revealed some properties, but the results are not considered unequivocal and reliable. On the other hand, a curious piece of research appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, in which it was defined the essential ingredient to enhance the flavor of any broth: celery.

Eliana Liotta (photo by Carlo Furgeri Gilbert).

Eliana Liotta is a journalist, writer and science communicator. On and on the main platforms (Spreaker, Spotify, Apple Podcast and Google Podcast) you can find his series of podcasts the good that I want.


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The review is by Lucilla Titta, program coordinator. smart food at the IEO – European Institute of Oncology.


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