Nutrition-wise blog

Soup for what ails you

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. October 26, 2016

Fall ushers in cooler days and reminds me it's time to get my flu shot — and to stock my freezer with home-cooked broths that are ready to convert to cold-fighting soups.

In the spirit of the season, here are a few soup terms and fun facts.

Stock: Stock is the result of cooking vegetables, such as carrots, celery and onions (this trio is called "mirepoix" in French cooking), aromatics, and animal bones (which may or may not be roasted and may have meat still attached) in water. The mixture is usually simmered 4 to 6 hours to remove the collagen from the connective tissues and bones. It's then strained. When chilled, stock should have the texture of gelatin. Stock is often used as a base for sauces — or it may be made into a broth by adding water.

Broth: Broth is also made with vegetables, aromatics (herbs such as bay leaf, parsley and thyme) and meat (which may or may not include bones). However, broth is cooked for a shorter period of time, usually 45 minutes to 2 hours, before it's strained and seasoned.

Bone broth: This is a stock made from roasted bones, which may still have some meat attached. It's cooked 24 hours or more. The goal is not only to extract the gelatin from the bones but also to release the nutritious minerals. Bone broth is then strained and seasoned to be enjoyed on its own, like broth.

Consomme: Consomme is a concentrated broth or stock that is clarified (through a process that involves a mixture of egg whites or lean ground meat), strained and defatted.

Bouillon: A French term, bouillon is liquid in which meats or vegetables have been boiled. Today's bouillon cubes evolved from boiled-down bone broth that was dried in the shape of nuggets.

Soup: The origin of this word is the French term "soupe," which meant a slice of bread with the contents of a cooking pot (potage) poured over it.

Does soup really have restorative qualities? A study published in 1978 in a prominent medical journal compared sipping hot chicken broth to sipping hot and cold water, and found hot chicken soup was superior in clearing nasal congestion.

A study published in 2000 in the same journal found that "chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity." The researchers observed that people eating chicken soup experienced a mild reduction in inflammation that helped reduce cold symptoms.

Bone broth is promoted as having a unique combination of amino acids, minerals, and collagen and cartilage compounds, which helps maintain healthy bones and skin. At this time, however, there isn't much research to support or refute these claims.

For now, get your flu shot, wash your hands often and get simmering. Stock up on broths so that if you catch a cold or the flu, you can do your body good with some homemade soup.

Oct. 26, 2016