And here we arrive… the last Soup Cookbook review of the week. Are you fed up with soup by now? I’M NOT! 🙂
And just to recap in case you missed:
Soup Cleanse Cookbook
by Nicole Centeno (cookbook) – worth a READ
WOW. This book.
Knowing it would deserve it’s own review, I came up with Soup Week rather than doing a 5 for Friday with 5 cookbooks in one post.
At first glance, I flipped through these recipes and thought, “Where is the protein?” and “I’m not going to make very many of these.” I do not eat a vegan, nor a vegetarian diet. Maybe it’s psychological, but I always feel like I need some sort of protein in order for a meal to feel “complete” to me, whether that be meat, eggs or beans. I really did skip over a lot of recipes in this book.
I did what I do what I do with every cookbook I read (unless I’m in search of one specific, quick recipe!)…
I read it like a novel… from cover to cover.
And boy did I learn so much. This soup cookbook is the one that changed my thinking… and when I wasn’t looking to change it at all. It is also the book that got me out of my comfort zone to try a bunch of those unusual ingredients that I was not really inspired to in some of those other cookbooks I mentioned this week.
And I have since made 10 recipes from it.
This is the book that actioned me out of my comfort zone!
Word of Caution: If you are looking for a book with a few good soup recipes to peruse, this book may not be for you. It most certainly wasn’t what I was looking for when I went in search of soup cookbooks. This book embodies more of a plan – a plan to eat real food… plant-based food.
Now if you are still intrigued… here is what I learned:
- Only 13 % of the American population gets enough vegetables. Do you really believe you are part of that 13%? Do you get 30-60% of your calories from vegetables?
- We seem to have worry about not getting enough protein in our diets; when for most Americans, that is not an issue. (Especially, compared to the issue of getting enough vegetables!) And get this, if you increase your vegetable intake, you’ll be adding protein to your diet, too. While the protein amounts in plants seem lower than traditional protein sources; when you star adding those extra vegetable servings to the diet, those little bits add up.
- In the past five years, I’ve heard more and more nutritionist and dietitian advice to the lines of “eat real food, mostly plants.”
What I Loved About This Book:
The author’s goal is not to get you to give up meat or really even overhaul your diet. We put too much pressure on what we should restrict from our diets. What about the things that are missing? What if we added real, plant-based food and the rest followed?
Along with each recipe, Centeno points out specific ingredients and what they will do for your body. And why some items should prepared a certain way. Maybe this is what sold me?!
While I don’t specifically like the term cleanse (or diet) because it sounds so restricting; Centeno’s suggestion on how to eat her soups goes like this:
- Pick one day to make 5 soups – one from each category of purees, beans and lentils, sweeter spoonfuls, stews, restorative broths.
- Each soup makes 4 servings, so your soups will last you two weeks. (Two servings of each soup will be eaten this week, the other two servings of each soup can go in the freezer for the following week.)
- On the first day, you will eat only soup – one of each of the soups in order. Yes, this part is a restrictive; but it’s more about mindfulness. Soup forces us to slow down.
- On the following five days, you replace one meal – any meal – with a soup. She recommends lunch, because it makes lunch easy, especially during the work week. But you can really do any meal, based on your schedule.
These recipes are all made of real ingredients, are plant-based and filling. What’s more is that most of the soups do not have broth or stock on the ingredient list, so almost all of the flavor you are getting is from the fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains themselves!
It kind of wowed me that each soup had as much flavor as they did. Only one have I found I needed to season with salt. The recipes are also pretty forgiving. I’ve messed up a step and ingredient or two.
What I Didn’t Like About Souping:
You’ll need to set aside a lot of time on the day you make these soups – like 3 hours or so. I’ve done it twice and have been pretty exhausted afterward. But I think it’s been worth it to have healthy, cleansing meals at the ready all week long – for two weeks! Sometimes I’ve just made four of the soups on a Sunday for my Monday Souping Day and would make the 5th soup for dinner, just like I would make dinner on Monday night.
Sometimes the soup’s textures aren’t as smooth or creamy as I’d like them to be; but I don’t have a blender, just a food processor. I did invest in an immersion blender and am slowly learning how to use that. But you don’t have to always blend the soups. And if the texture or a style of soup is something you don’t like, Centeno suggests choosing something from another category. Also, when I’m making soups for the week, I try to choose soups that might have some overlapping ingredients so I don’t have a lot of leftover ingredients or waste.
A day of souping can be a (mental) challenge, but it’s just one day. And I love ending the day with a restorative broth and a warm tummy full of it.
Recipes I’ve tried from each category:
- Carrot and Turmeric – This one wouldn’t puree in a food processor. My newly purchased immersion blender did the trick, when I figured out how to use it! Still, not as silky smooth looking as the photo. I’m still learning.
- Cumin Sweet Potato – I don’t even really like sweet potatoes IRL. I gave it a go anyway. This one is flavorful. I think it’s the “sweet” I don’t like in sweet potatoes, but now I know if you add some Mexican or spicy flair, you’ve got me!
- Beans & Lentils
- Lentil and Kale – I don’t remember much about this soup, but I think that’s a good thing. It means it had good flavor and wasn’t too weird in texture. The ones that were lacking flavor or had weird texture were the ones that stood out.
- Beans and Greens – Out of all the soups, this is the only one I needed to season, liberally, with salt. It was also the first time I’ve ever used dried beans. While canned beans are totally acceptable, I thought I decided to go all out and start with dried beans, sorting, rinsing and soaking them the night before. I thought all of this and the long simmer on the stove would make them taste the same as canned. (Or better?) But they were a little too al dente to my taste when I actually ate the soup. (And a bit more difficult to… ahem, digest.) Why didn’t I think to taste them after the allotted stove time?! Also, the resulting soup water just tasted “dirty” to me for some reason.
- Sweeter Spoonfuls
- Spiced Fig & Cashew – My fig and date ratios were off, but this still came out beautifully. I found that I liked to replace breakfast with the Sweeter Spoonful soups.
- Vanilla Pistachio with Oats – I think my oats were undercooked and this wasn’t really sweet, just a little dull.
- Courgette Stew – You might wonder how it is a stew without any big chunks of meat or even beans, but this was so flavorful! The stews really surprised me.
- Curly Kale Stew – In my opinion, some of these recipes are misnamed. Yes, kale is an ingredient, but my overall feel for this stew is for the warming coconut curry! So comforting in winter.
- Restorative Broths
- Lime Pepper Broth – I loved the little kick of jalapeno! Centeno does not strain any of her broths, so veggies used are fresh and you’ll get to benefit from their nutrients. My only complaint about the broths is the suggestion to used sliced onion. I feel like I’m slurping up noodles! If you like that kind of thing, fine. I’ll be dicing all of my onions next time.
- Spirulina and Kale Broth – Here is an example of an uncommon ingredient I bought – Spirulina Powder! It’s made of sea algae and is loaded with Omega-3s as well as protien, iron and potassium. Still, Centeno did what I love – she recommended using other types of ingredients like nori or wakame or even doubling up on the Kale if needed. The deep blue-green color of the spirulina powder was a bit of a trip, though!
I have never felt deprived eating any of her soups, even if (with my mindset) there is a lack of traditional protein in many soups. I’ve actually eaten slower and been more mindful of each bite. This coming weekend is my next weekend to prep soups. But I am just getting settled in my new digs at work. I need to establish my routine, so I’m going to hold off for a bit.
In the meantime, I’m going to lunch from my freezer to continue to empty it so that we can make room for more upcoming soups – whether they be for this new souping ritual or for any of my favorite soups. (I’m looking at you, Immunity Soup, Provencal Lentil Soup and Crockpot Italian Chicken and Quinoa Soup)!
And if you are looking for posts on traditional soups:
What books have you read that have altered your thinking?
P.S. Ever since I published the post on Clean Soups, I’ve heard kombu used in recipes (on tv and in print) several times! Maybe I just never noticed this ingredient before. Either it’s not too unusual after all… or I’m just now noticing it. 🙂