3 favourite homemade soups

Fresh food chef Paul Finkelstein creates his hearty and healthy homemade soups inspired by the flavours of Italy, Vietnam and the Caribbean

3 favourite homemade soups

Source: Best Health Magazine, January/February 2009

When I was young, my parents would pile my four siblings and me into the car to make our weekend pilgrimage to my paternal grandparents’ house for a meal. Even before we entered the house, I could smell the broth in the stockpot. My Eastern European grandparents always had a pot of delicious soup going and it’s a fond memory for me of time I spent with them. Soup is one of those meals that easily conjures up strong memories; whether it’s of coming in from a wintry day and warming up with a bowl, or sipping chicken broth when you were home from school with a cold, the smell and taste are comforting and can bring us back to that time in our lives.

Today, I’m a big fan of homemade soup. For one thing, it’s a great opportunity to be creative with vegetables (and any leftovers in your fridge); soup also provides valuable nutrients and makes you feel full.

My Tuscan White Bean Soup with turkey bacon is a modification of a bean soup I used to eat when I was young. The addition of rosemary, thyme and Parmesan gives it a zesty Italian taste. I like to use turkey bacon as it adds the smoky element that’s key to this soup but doesn’t have the high fat of regular bacon.

The silky texture of sweet potatoes, the richness of peanut butter and the spicy after-tone of cayenne pepper make my Caribbean Sweet-Potato Soup a great choice in winter. Sweet potatoes are full of flavour but are underused in many households. After you fall in love with them in this soup, try them as an alternative to french fries or mashed potatoes.

I developed my passion for pho (pronounced “fuh”), a staple in Vietnam, while I was working in New York for two weeks this past summer. I think I ate it every day! You can find it in cities across Canada. My version is the perfect meal for transforming leftovers. And the combinations are endless; for example, you can spin a whisked egg into the hot broth.

These soups are delicious on their own or served with a side salad. Multiply the quantities, freeze the soups and you’ll have an easy dinner on busy weeknights, or a warm and satisfying lunch for cold afternoons. Let me know what you think, and whether you made any interesting substitutions or additions, by posting a message in the Best Health Community Kitchen forum.

Paul Finkelstein is a slow-food proponent and culinary arts teacher at Northwestern Secondary School in Stratford, Ont.

This article was originally titled "Soup’s On!" in the January/February 2009 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!