Our parents might have taken
the time to boil for hours the bones of the Sunday roast with some onion,
celery and a few
bay leaves, but few people today do that. Here are some tips
to warming up this winter with a healthy warm soup.
A true quality soup is almost entirely dependent on the stock used to
make it. Our parents might have taken the time to boil for hours the
bones of the Sunday roast with some onion, celery and a few bay leaves,
but few people today do that. It is possible to buy frozen stocks from
good delis but, by and large, most people select from the large
selection of packaged stocks that come dehydrated in powders or cubes or
labelled fresh in cartons.
In truth, none of these are particularly good. Virtually all stocks
today, even those from health-food stores, contain yeast extract, a
source of MSG. Many have other glutamates, added colours and are loaded
• Frozen home-made stock available from delis and some health-food stores.
• Due to the naturally salty flavour of fish, cartons of fish stock are
free of all free glutamates and lower in salt than many commercial
chicken and beef stocks.
What’s not so good:
• Anything with sea salt as the first ingredient.
• Anything with yeast extract and/or MSG or MSG derivates.
• Anything with the colour caramel 150d.
What to look for:
• Avoid MSG, free glutamate and other glutamates used as flavour
enhancers. (These include 620, 621, 622, 623, 624, 625, 627, 631, 635
and monosodium glutamate, yeast extract and anything that starts with
the word ‘hydrolysed’, including hydrolysed vegetable protein,
hydrolysed plant protein and hydrolysed protein.)
• Avoid preservatives (in particular 220).
• Check salt content per serve.
• Check sugar content per serve.
• Look out for nitrates. They are added to processed meat as colours,
flavours and preservatives. They are widely considered to be
• It’s so easy to make your own soup that we don’t really like any of the available products.
• Soup mixes with dried pulses and beans are good for using in home-made soups.
What’s not so good:
• Brands that claimed to be ‘fresh’ with added preservatives.
• Brands with MSG, colours and nitrates (from processed meat).
• Gluten-free soups made from high-GI potato starch, maltodextrin and
very few vegetables. Most soups made from home-made stocks (recipe
below) contain no gluten anyway.
A good, hearty soup is cheap, nutritious and makes an extremely
satisfying meal. Another bonus is that it tastes even better on the
second and third days after making it, and if you make too much it can
be frozen. Pureed, it’s a great way to provide children and the elderly
with extra nutrients when their appetites are diminished, but most
importantly do like the peasants did and make your own stock. It may
take longer, but taking time out of the equation, as well as being much
healthier, it’s a much cheaper option and, you may find, like the
peasants, your body takes on a leaner form.