Sandwiches and breads aren’t our only lunch option. Soups and stews can be taken to work in a thermos and eaten with some cold meat, or if it’s a meaty stew, a thick slice of buttered, homemade bread. The tastiest and most nutritious stocks are based on quality stocks, so we’ll make those first.
Meat or fish stocks have been part of traditional cuisines for centuries. They:
- Make use of parts of the animal that would otherwise be wasted
- Form the basis of delicious soups, stews and sauces.
- Contain minerals in easily assimilable form.
- Are good sources of gelatine, glycine and proline – nutrients which nourish the digestive tract and joints. ~Have a protein sparing effect.
- Chicken soup is a well known remedy for cold and flus. (But strangely, packeted chicken soup doesn’t seem to work!)
The stock recipes below have come from www.westonaprice.org and give the most nutrients. But don’t neglect the stock that you sometimes get as a by product of cooking eg. if you’ve cooked up a bunch of chicken legs in the crockpot. This will still be nutritious and tasty. Note that the vegetable stock recipe, included for the convenience of vegetarians, while tasty and nutritious, doesn’t have the same health benefits as meat or fish based stocks.
A note here about fish and fish stock. Fish and fish products are very nutritious, so it’s a great pity that they are now mostly contaminated with mercury. Dr Mercola recommends eating no fish at all now, but I’m not sure it’s necessary to be that extreme. Sally Fallon says that ocean going fish that contain mercury also contain alkylglycerols that remove mercury from the body. So ocean going fish from relatively clean waters should be safe for most people. Some ways of minimising the risk:
A nutritionist called Aajonus Vonderplanitz did some studies with mercury contaminated fish. He fed both raw and cooked to fish to different animals (plus himself) and measured the output of mercury in urine and faeces. He found that those that ate the raw fish excreted 98% of the mercury, while those that ate the cooked only excreted 5%. So raw fish is a safer bet than cooked. (See lesson 10 for a marinated, raw fish recipe)
Here I have a list of comparative levels of mercury in fish. Only eat fish from the first column. (This list is a few years old, but it’s the best info we have at present). Another thing we need to take into consideration in NZ is that some of our fisheries aren’t sustainable. So from that first list, choose the ones that are marked as more sustainable.
- Limit consumption of cooked fish to once a week.
- The contaminants in fish are mostly in the fat, so as long as the fat is skimmed off, stock should be relatively safe.
- Sally also has a theory that saturated fats protect you from the damage caused by mercury, so there’s another reason to enjoy cream in your soup or butter on your toast.
- If you are pregnant, or have reason to believe you already have high mercury levels, don’t eat fish at all. Look for cod liver oil that is guaranteed mercury free instead.
Some soups are a meal all in themselves, while others make great appetisers. As well as a basis for soups and stews, stocks are great for cooking grains or legumes. They improve their digestibility and increase their flavour.
Salts, herbs & spices – the things that give food its zing – are an important part of making soups, stews and other meals tasty. Many people are being advised to eliminate salt from their diets, but that only applies to refined salt that has had all the nutrients except sodium taken out of it. Celtic and other unrefined sea salts contain a wide variety of minerals, and give good flavour. So replace your refined salt with unrefined, and you can continue to enjoy it. If you can, grow some of your own herbs – fresh herbs have superior taste and more nutritional value. Otherwise, use dried, organic if possible. Here is a summary of some common herbs and spices, and what they can be used for.
Herbs & Spices
** These herbs don’t dry well, so look for fresh
- Allspice ~ Cakes, pates, sausages
- Basil ~ Chicken, eggplant, haricot beans, pinenuts, potato, tomato, zucchini/courgette
- Bay ~ Fish, sauces, stews, stocks, milk puddings
- Carraway ~ Cheeses, goulash, rye, seed cake, treacle sponge
- Cayenne (it is a particular type of chilli) ~ Almonds, egg, prawns, turkey
- Chilli ~ Beans, chickpeas, chilli con carne
- Chives ** ~ Eggs, potatos, tomatos
- Cinnamon ~ Baking, Indian & Middle eastern dishes, mulled wine, rice
- Cloves ~ Apples, beef, curry, ham, hot toddies, pears, rice
- Coriander ** ~ Apple, curry, egg custards, lamb, lentils, pork, prawn
- Cumin ~ Chick peas, chilli con carne, curry, fish soup, lamb, rice, vegetables
- Ginger ~ Baking, beef, chicken, Chinese, curry, fish, pork, prawn
- Mace ~ Cakes, cheese sauces, fish, pate, puddings, sausages
- Marjoram ~ Chicken, lamb, tomato
- Mint ~ Peas, potatoes, prawns, yoghurt
- Mixed spices ~ Cakes, pates
- Mustard ~ Cheese, eggs, pork, potato
- Oregano ~ Beef, chicken, chilli con canre, fish, lamb, tomato
- Paprika ~ Chicken, fish, goulash, potato, sour cream, vegetables
- Parsley ~ Garlic, eggs, fish, soups, just about anything
- Rosemary ~ Beef, lamb, pork
- Sage ~ Liver, pork
- Tarragon ** ~ Chicken, eggs, salads, salmon
- Thyme ~ Chicken, fish, lamb, meatballs, pate, vinaigrettes, zucchini/courgette
- Vanilla ~ Chocolate, milk & rice puddings
This section is for those are working through the lessons of the cooking course. Otherwise jump straight to the recipes
- Stocks: Nourishing Traditions P116-118 and/or this Weston A Price article on broth
- Soups: Nourishing Traditions P197-198
- Salts & Spices: Nourishing Traditions P48-50
- Make two different stocks [Note: If the meat isn’t going to be added back to the soup, use in a salad or sandwich or freeze to use later]
- Use them to make two different soups. Choose from:
- Chilli fish chowder
- Bean & vege soup
- Coconut Kumara soup
- Creamy mushroom soup
- Curried carrot cashew soup
Dig out your favourite soup recipes, and see which ones contain only whole food ingredients, or can be adjusted easily to avoid the “baddies”. For example:
- Replace undesirable vegetable oils with butter, coconut or extra virgin olive oil
- Replace stock in cartons, or powdered stock plus water, with real stock
- Miss the sugar out, or try a small amount of molasses or rapadura
- Replace canned or frozen vegetables with fresh
It is possible now to buy some good ready made soups (see the NZ shopping guide for details). See if your local supermarket or health food shop has any of them. But unfortunately most commercial soups have sugar in, so check the labels carefully before buying. Also check out their pre-made stocks. You probably won’t find one that’s sugar free in the supermarket, but you may find a “boutique” sugar free stock in a gourmet food store such as Moore Wilson Fresh in Wellington. Let me know what you find.
- Make stocks regularly and keep a supply in the freezer
- Vary your lunches by including soups. Some of these are very thick, though, so if you want a soup you can drink, try diluting it with a little extra stock. Note that some of these soups are quite high carb, so may be more suitable as an entrée or small side serving with some protein.
- Try soups as an alternative breakfast, with or without toast