Research shows that it’s not just classic chicken noodle soup that’s good for you when you’re sick. There are a wide range of health benefits of soups and stews, and this chilly winter season is the perfect time to embrace these delightful recipes. When it comes to stews, soups and broths, you don’t need to be a chef or even “good” at cooking to whip up a delicious, hearty meal. These healthy soups and stews are the perfect place to start, and each is filled with wholesome ingredients that nourish your body and your immunity.
1. Healthy Soups and Stews: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Why reach for the canned stuff when you can make your own chicken noodle soup at home? This version takes just a few minutes to prep and is the perfect way to use up the leftovers when you buy a rotisserie chicken at Costco or any other grocery store.
Because you’re using a leftover chicken carcasses, you’re essentially making bone broth. Bone broth is a nutrient-rich liquid made by simmering animal bones and connective tissues. It has gained popularity for its potential health benefits. For example, bone broth contains various essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It also contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.These amino acids, particularly glutamine, may even support a healthy immune system. Glutamine is known for its role in maintaining the function of the intestinal mucosa, which is a crucial part of the immune system.
Chicken carcass (leftover from a roasted or cooked chicken)
8 cups of water
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz (about 225g) whole wheat or other healthy noodles
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Place the chicken carcass in a large pot and cover it with 8 cups of water. Add the chopped onion, sliced carrots, celery, minced garlic, bay leaf, dried thyme, salt, and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for at least 1 hour. The longer you simmer, the richer the flavor will be.
After simmering, remove the chicken carcass and any large vegetable pieces from the broth using a strainer or slotted spoon.
Strain the broth to remove any remaining solids, leaving you with a clear and flavorful broth.
Bring the strained broth back to a gentle boil. Add the noodles and cook according to the package instructions or until they are al dente. Add the chopped spinach during the last few minutes of cooking until it wilts.
While the noodles are cooking, shred any remaining chicken meat from the carcass. Discard bones and skin.
Once the noodles are cooked, add the shredded chicken back into the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Serve hot and enjoy your healthy chicken noodle soup!
2. Healthy Soups and Stews: Coconut Curry
Whisk your tastebuds away to Southeast Asia with the cozy, warm flavors of coconut curry.
Not only is it tasty, it’s good for you, too! Coconut milk, a primary ingredient in coconut curry, contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are considered a healthy type of fat. MCTs may provide a quick source of energy and have been associated with various health benefits.
Many spices commonly used in curry, such as turmeric, ginger, and garlic, have anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, in particular, is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects. And don’t forget the herbs! This recipe calls for onions, garlic, ginger, and more, each of which contains plant compounds and enzymes that contribute to a stronger immune system and help your body fight off infections.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 pound (about 450g) protein of your choice (chicken, tofu, shrimp, or a mix), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten-free option)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional, for non-vegetarian versions)
1 tablespoon brown sugar or maple syrup
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving
Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until translucent.
Add minced garlic and grated ginger, sauté for an additional minute until fragrant.
Stir in the red curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the protein of your choice (chicken, tofu, shrimp) and cook until browned on all sides.
Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable or chicken broth. Stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.
Add sliced bell pepper, carrot, and zucchini to the simmering curry. Cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
Add soy sauce, fish sauce (if using), and brown sugar or maple syrup. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Let the curry simmer for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Serve the coconut curry over cooked rice or noodles.
Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.
This coconut curry is versatile, so feel free to customize it with your favorite vegetables and protein choices. Adjust the spice level by adding more or less red curry paste according to your taste preferences. Enjoy your homemade coconut curry!
3. Healthy Soups and Stews: Congee
“Congee has long been a secret weapon of Traditional Chinese Medicine,” reports the medical experts at MindBodyGreen. “Rice is cooked with a much higher ratio of water to grain and simmered until mush, making it both easy to digest and incredibly nourishing for the GI tract.”
Congee, also known as rice porridge, is a comforting and versatile dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Congee is often considered a comfort food, particularly during times of illness or recovery. Its mild flavor and easy-to-swallow texture make it a go-to choice when someone is not feeling well.
You’ll note we didn’t provide exact toppings, but rather a list of options that showcase this versatile and healthy dish!
1 cup rice (jasmine rice or short-grain rice)
8 cups water or chicken broth for added flavor
1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced
Salt, to taste
Toppings (see suggestions below)
Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch.
In a large pot, combine the rinsed rice and water or chicken broth. Add the minced ginger. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer.
Allow the rice to simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for about 1 to 1.5 hours. The longer you cook, the creamier the congee will become.
Add salt to taste. Keep in mind that the flavor will concentrate as the congee thickens.
Ladle the congee into bowls and add your favorite toppings.
Congee Topping Ideas:
- Sliced Green Onions: Fresh green onions add a burst of freshness to the congee.
- Soy Sauce or Tamari: Drizzle a bit of soy sauce or tamari for extra flavor.
- Fried Shallots: Crispy fried shallots provide a delicious crunch.
- Sesame Oil: A small drizzle of sesame oil enhances the overall flavor.
- Soft-Boiled or Poached Egg: A soft-boiled or poached egg adds richness to the congee.
- Shredded Chicken: Leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken makes a great protein addition.
- Sliced Fresh Ginger: For an extra kick of ginger flavor, add thinly sliced fresh ginger on top.
- Cilantro: Chopped cilantro adds a burst of freshness.
- Sriracha or Chili Oil: Spice things up with a drizzle of sriracha or chili oil.
- Sautéed Mushrooms: Quickly sautéed mushrooms bring an earthy flavor.
Feel free to mix and match toppings based on your preferences. Congee is highly customizable, so don’t hesitate to get creative with flavors and textures. Enjoy this warm and nourishing dish!