In the wintertime, there’s no better time for a bowl of healthy and warming soup!
Now, soup’s got a lot of health potential… it’s a good source of protein and veggies. But if you are buying your soup at a restaurant or grocery store, you have no control of what is going into that soup, nor its health benefits or detriments.
A simple way to avoid this issue is to make your soups yourself! While this may seem like a daunting task, it’s actually quite easy, and we are here to give you the play by play to simplify the process even further. On top of avoiding high sodium concentrations, making your soups at home allows you to fill them with polyphenol-rich ingredients.
One of my favorite sources of polyphenols is leafy greens, and this comforting soup is packed with them… even better, it’s a perfect recipe for leafy-green skeptics, because the greens take on the flavor of the tangy, flavorful lemon chicken broth. Just think of it as chicken noodle soup, with bright green noodles.
In fact, whenever I find myself dealing with a cold, I make up a big batch of this. It’s just so warming and comforting that I feel better instantly. And the polyphenols in the kale and vitamin C in the lemon are fantastic too!
Bonus – this recipe freezes really well. I like to freeze it in pint jars, so I have a perfect single-serving lunch. Just warm and serve!
LEMON CHICKEN AND KALE SOUP RECIPE – SERVES 6-8
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped or minced
- 5 cups homemade or salt free vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup cooked pastured chicken, cubed or shredded
- 2 bunches kale, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Zest of one lemon
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
- Heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large pot (like a Dutch oven or Crock-Pot). Add the onion, garlic, and celery, along with the salt and pepper (just a tiny pinch of sea salt). Saute until onions and celery are very tender.
- Add chicken, dijon, and kale, along with the zest of a lemon, and saute an additional 5 minutes.
- Add chicken broth, balsamic, and lemon juice and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 35 minutes, before serving.
Whenever I create a recipe, I want to ensure that every single ingredient is benefiting the body in some way. Let’s take a look how my Lemon Chicken Kale soup is actually working for you:
Kale – As we discussed earlier, kale is a major source of polyphenols. Kale is also high in vitamin A, which stimulates fibroblast cells responsible for keeping skin firm. It also helps to slow aging by maintaining healthy skin cell production and by protecting against UV damage.
Extra-virgin olive oil – Extra-virgin olive oil is loaded with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which help lower blood cholesterol levels and, therefore, your risk for heart disease. A five-year study in Spain looked at the effects of a high-calorie, high-fat Mediterranean diet (including a liter a week of extra-virgin olive oil!) on overweight adults. Guess what? The high-fat diet did NOT cause weight gain. Indeed, the subjects in the olive oil group ended up with a slightly lower body weight than the control group.1
Onion – This member of the allium family (alongside leek and garlic) has long been prized for its potent medicinal properties. Today, clinical studies are zeroing in on the potential of allium vegetables to ward off the growth of abnormal cells, particularly in the digestive tract.2
Garlic – Garlic contains manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and calcium. Many clinical studies link garlic consumption to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disorders.3
Celery – The high percentage of water and electrolytes found in celery may help alleviate dehydration. It may also help reduce bloating by acting as a diuretic and preventing water retention. Celery also carries a load of antioxidant flavonoids and polyphenol phytonutrients, alongside vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin B6.
Chicken – This is a great source of niacin and, of course, a major source of protein. Every cell in our body contains protein, and we need protein to help the body to repair cells and make new ones. Just make sure to only use pasture-raised poultry.
Balsamic vinegar – Balsamic vinegar contains an abundant amount of energy and longevity-boosting polyphenols. One study indicates that the polyphenols in balsamic vinegar helped inhibit LDL oxidation, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.4
Dijon mustard – One tablespoon of Dijon mustard contains 21 mg of potassium. Potassium is essential to your body, as it helps with sending electrical signals, maintaining a steady heartbeat, and proper muscle contraction and release (so we can both move and digest food!)5
Vegetable or chicken stock – Store-bought stocks can be very high in sodium and are more often over-processed and devoid of any credible nutrients. Homemade stock offers a super concentrated boost of vitamins and minerals, and low-sodium chicken broth has the added benefit of containing broken down connective tissues, which delivers an even greater mineral boost.
Lemon – Lemons, like all citrus fruit, are high in vitamin C, which helps the body produce collagen. Collagen is the key to maintaining plump, youthful, elastic skin. Vitamin C is also useful in the treatment of the common cold and for boosting the immune system.6
Parmigiano Reggiano – Aged cheeses, like parmesan, are considered probiotic cheeses. Aging allows for lactic acid to increase, and lactic acid is made by the beneficial lactic acid bacterium which is a probiotic. The probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei (L. casei) is a good example of a lactic acid bacteria frequently found in aged cheeses.7