LEE ANNE GRACE: Healthy homeade soups warm up coller days, nights

By Lee Anne Grace

After a long, hot summer, the crisp temperatures of fall are finally here. At our house, we make a lot of homemade soup during the cooler months. Eating soup is a great way to increase daily vegetable intake and save money at the grocery store. Homemade soup doesn’t contain all of the additives found in store-bought soups.
I frequently pack soup for lunch. I take about 30 minutes on the weekend to prepare a large batch, separate it into plastic containers and freeze it. I take a container of soup out of the freezer each weekday morning. The frozen soup keeps the rest of my lunch cool. At lunchtime I microwave the soup for about a minute, then enjoy hot, homemade fresh soup.
Here are two of my favorite soup recipes:

Homemade Chicken and Brown Rice Soup
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup uncooked minute brown rice
14 baby carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
8 cups low sodium fat free chicken broth
Salt, pepper and poultry seasoning, to taste
Boil chicken in the chicken broth until done. Remove from broth and allow to cool. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Add carrots, onion and celery to the broth. Cook until tender crisp. Add the brown rice. Cover and simmer until the rice is done. Add the cubed chicken. Serve hot.
Makes approximately 12 1-cup servings.
Nutritional Information per serving: 115 calories, 15 grams protein, 6 grams carbs, 2 grams fat.
Note: I usually pack 11⁄2 to 2 cups per container and adjust the nutritional info accordingly.

Black Bean Soup
1 spray cooking spray
1 medium uncooked onion, finely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 15-ounce cans black beans, undrained, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 141⁄2-ounce can fat-free chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 10-ounce can tomatoes with green chilis
1 11-ounce can yellow corn, drained
Coat bottom of a large stockpot with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.
Place one can of beans in blender; add sautéed onion mixture, red pepper flakes and cumin. Cover and blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture into stockpot.
Place second can of beans and broth in blender and puree until smooth; add to stockpot.
Stir third can of beans (do not puree), tomatoes and green chilies, and corn into stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Yields about 8 11⁄2 cups of soup per serving.
Nutritional information per serving: 188 calories, 1 gram fat, 37 grams carbs, 12 grams protein.
Some store-bought soups are also good. Be conscious of the sodium content for any canned soup you purchase, as well as how many servings there are per can. Nutritional information provided is often for one half of the can.
Cream-based soups usually contain a lot of fat. If weight reduction is one of your goals, eat soups that are broth-based instead of cream-based.
There are many more healthy soup recipes available on the Internet. Make a goal of trying a few new ones this fall. You may discover one that will become a family favorite.

Lee Anne Grace is an elementary music teacher for Tupelo Public Schools. After reaching a weight of almost 300 pounds and failing at numerous diets for over 25 years, she has been successful at losing weight and maintaining her weight loss for three years. She is the mother of two teenage daughters and enjoys running in her spare time.