Summer Vegetable Soup

With summer heading toward its waning stages, enjoy the best of the farmers’ market or your garden by creating a tasty vegetable soup enhanced by a combination of herbs.

Brown rice is the best choice from the paddies because it hasn’t been hulled and refined, retaining its fiber and nutrition and producing a slightly nutty taste. For the best leeks, look for large white bases that are not slimy, dried out or browning.

Celery, rich in vitamin K, originated in the Mediterranean and was used as a medicinal herb. The ancient Greeks called it selinon, and it’s mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, which dates back to 850 BC. Available year round, the most common variety is the pale green Pascal. Purportedly, it was introduced to the United States when a Dutch immigrant arrived in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with a sack of celery seeds in the 1870s. Cooking softens it and celery provides a wonderful texture to the soup.

The dill, an ingredient in many Scandinavian and German dishes, is in the same family of plants as anise, fennel, cilantro, caraway and cumin. Pungent and aromatic, it adds a decidedly refreshing taste to the mixture. The thyme contributes a somewhat lemony, earthy flavor.

Rounding it all out and providing a pleasing consistency are the bite size pieces of asparagus. These graceful spears have always been prized and Roman emperors were so fond of them that they supposedly kept a special fleet for fetching them so they could be used in their kitchens.

This soup is easy to prepare and provides a bowlful of taste and nutrition. You might want to prepare some extra because it’s great warmed up the next day as a leftover.

Summer Vegetable Soup - Makes 6 servings.

5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (water may be substituted)
¼ cup uncooked brown rice
1 potato chopped into ½ -inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp. dried dill
1 Tbsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. rosemary
3 leeks, sliced, stems removed
2 green onions, sliced, including stems
1 stalk of celery, cut into ¼ -inch slices
10 stalks of asparagus, sliced into ½ to ¾ pieces, include stems
Salt and white pepper to taste
Nonfat Greek yogurt (optional)

Bring broth (or water) to boil in large saucepan. Add rice and simmer, covered 20 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and herbs and cook until potato is tender, about 15 minutes.

Add all other ingredients. Simmer 5 minutes or until asparagus are bright green and just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt if desired.

Per serving: 110 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 24 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 150 mg sodium.

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $91 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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