Friendship soup

Enjoy the nutritious benefits of this friendship soup recipe while sharing with those you love.

During these cold winter days soup is a wonderful food to warm and fill you up. Soups are a great way to blend the nutrients and phytochemicals from many vegetables into one pot. Eating a variety of vegetables supplies plenty of healthy substances that work together to protect us from certain cancer risks.

Does cooking vegetables reduce their nutrients? A number of studies have concluded that boiling vegetables like broccoli, carrots, zucchini and spinach reduces their water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and folate. The beauty of soup is that any water-soluble nutrients that leach into cooling water are consumed with the soup. A bonus with a pot of soup is that it can be divided into individual portions and froze for a meal on a later date.

When making homemade soup, you have the capability of having better control over the amount of sodium in the final product. A few ways to do this would be to use fresh or frozen vegetables, low-sodium broth or using less bouillon cubes than the recipe calls for. Michigan State University Extension recommends substituting high sodium seasonings such as onion salt for onion powder.

Vegetables such as sweet or white potatoes, carrots turnips and parsnips can be pureed to make a rich and velvety base for soups. For a creamy taste without using high fat cream, stir in a spoonful of low fat sour cream, plain Greek yogurt or evaporated skim milk.

The recipe below is a very hearty, healthy, inexpensive and delicious soup that can be given as a friendship gift of warmth. You can layer the dry ingredients in glass jars or clear food gradable gift bags. Enjoy!

Friendship Soup Mix

1/2 cup dry split peas

1/3 cup beef bouillon granules (12 cubes)

1/4 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup dry lentils

1/4 cup dried minced onion

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice (or substitute brown rice)

1/2 cup alphabet macaroni or other small macaroni

Additional ingredients:

1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)

3 quarts water

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

Layer the first eight ingredients in the order listed. Seal tightly. This makes one batch of soup.

To prepare soup: carefully remove macaroni from top of jar and set aside. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven; brown the meat and drain. Add the water, tomatoes and soup mix; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the reserved macaroni, cover and simmer an additional 15-20 minutes or until the macaroni, peas, lentils and barley are tender.

Yields: 16 servings

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