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Why soup is good for your health in winter

In winter what is better than a nice steaming hot bowl of soup? The goodness can be felt even by warming your hands on the bowl. What makes soup so attractive in winter and why is good for us?

Untitled design - 2022-08-16T164537.355
16 August 2022
Simone Austin is an advanced
sports dietitian, keynote
speaker and author.

In winter what is better than a nice steaming hot bowl of soup? The goodness can be felt even by warming your hands on the bowl. What makes soup so attractive in winter and why is good for us?

Food is more than just the nutrients we eat; it creates feelings and emotions and soup certainly demonstrates that. The inviting aroma, the steam rising letting you know warmth is coming and the anticipation that a bowl of goodness is ready and waiting brings positive feelings before the spoon has even touched your lips.

Soup is nurturing when you aren’t feeling well. The steam helps clear a blocked head, along with garlic, ginger and chilli that really gets the job done!

As well as making us feel good emotionally, which is important for health in itself, soup nutritionally can be a power house of nutrients to help support our immune system that is working hard to fight off colds and flu. 

What do you need to add to get these nutrients in a tasty winter soup?

Let’s start with vitamin C, which is higher in uncooked vegetables however you don’t destroy all of the vitamin C by cooking like some people think. It is a water soluble vitamin, so in soup you are having the liquid rather than throwing it away like you do when boiling vegetables.

What can you add to your soup that is rich in vitamin C?

  • Red capsicum
  • Tomatoes- canned or fresh
  • Broccoli- fresh or frozen
  • Cabbage- any variety even red
  • Green leafy vegetables- that grow well in the garden in winter
  • Potato.

How about vitamin E? Vitamin E is important for the immune system supporting the growth of T-cells that help fight infection. Vitamin E is found particularly in plant based oils, nuts such as almonds and seeds.

What other nutrients are important- zinc, iron, protein?

Then add some ingredients that contain zinc, iron and protein.  This could be a mix of ingredients such as meat, seafood, legumes and if you haven’t tried it before, add some almonds.

Enjoying almonds to your soup

Almonds add healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre- valuable nutrients for immune health.

  • Blend the soup so the almonds or almond meal make a velvety texture in the soup
  • Almond meal thickens a soup beautifully
  • Flaked almonds sprinkled on top of soup gives the finishing touch
  • Roasted almonds perfect in a blended soup

Almond meal is a great way to add in extra protein and healthy fats to soup  with the vitamin and minerals. Almonds are the perfect way to make the soup a filling meal, particularly if looking for a vegetarian option.  

Zinc plays an important role in many parts of the complicated immune system, working as an antioxidant, catalyst to speed up reactions and in the function of the immune cells important in fighting infection. You could add a combination of legumes and almonds for plenty of plant sources of zinc.

Using meat with bones adds extra flavour and can be more economical. Legumes, dried or canned are very economical sources of nutrients and thicken up a soup beautifully.

  • Meat, seafood and legumes have the added benefit of providing some iron which again is an important mineral for immune health. Iron we tend to think of as being responsible for carrying oxygen around the body as part of the red blood cells, haemoglobin, but it is also involved in immune function.

Serve up your bowl of hearty soup with wholegrain bread to add even further to the nutritional picture. Wholegrains along with the almonds and vegetables ensure the soup is full of dietary fibre, some types which feed your good gut bacteria they support your immune system too.

The finishing touch an extra handful of toasted flaked almonds and you are ready to tuck into your bowl of goodness any time of the day!

Simone Austin

Accredited Practising Dietitian


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