By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef
When it comes to superfood soups, the benefits of these hearty, wholesome meals are endless, but perhaps one of the most appealing is that they are so incredibly flexible in nature. They’re exceptionally easy to adjust and personalize with many of the superfoods you may already have in your kitchen! You can certainly get creative with the ingredients you combine to make a cozy, nutrient-rich bowl, but there is a smaller collection of superfoods that are the easiest to incorporate into the widest variety of soup recipes. Look to these five ingredients as you make your own recipes this season, as they are what I would consider essential superfoods for any soup lover.
1. Goji Berries
I know what you’re thinking: aren’t goji berries a fruit? Fruit in soups? YES – because goji berries are not just any fruit! In fact, the first recorded uses of goji berries are in ancient (and current) Chinese medicine, where goji berries are traditionally steeped in hot water and enjoyed as a tea. Similarly, when submerged in a warm soup while cooking, goji berries impart a slightly sweet, tea-like flavor that blends extremely well with ingredients like onions, squash, roots, and pulses. Plus, their massive collection of antioxidants – including carotene, lycopene and zeaxanthin – make your nutrient gains add up fast!
2. Medicinal Mushrooms
Regular mushrooms are healthy, but medicinal mushrooms take the benefits to the next level (for example, when comparing white button mushrooms to shiitake, shiitake mushrooms are about 100 times more effective at enhancing the immune system). From boasting antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral activities to supporting the health of the liver, lungs, kidneys and blood sugar, the healing powers of these special superfoods is almost overwhelming. Fresh medicinal mushrooms, like shiitake and maitake, can add welcome umami flavor to stews and hearty recipes. For lighter soups or for those individuals who don’t care for the flavor of mushrooms, using medicinal mushroom powders like cordyceps and reishi is an excellent and super easy way to go, as they have little to no flavor in small quantities. You can even use Cacao+ Longevity Blend (which combines organic cacao powder with reishi mushroom) in soups, stews or chili for a richer, more flavorful recipe that lends a bit of sweetness to each comforting bite.
3. Hemp Seeds
Whether blended into a soup to act like a healthy “cream,” left whole for a delectable soft and chewy texture, or sprinkled on top as an attractive garnish, hemp seeds are practically made for soups! Plus, their sunflower-like flavor goes with virtually all types of savory ingredients – from greens to grains. At 10 grams of protein per three tablespoons, hemp seeds are an excellent way to add protein to soups, and their healthy fats like omega-3s (including the rare and superbly anti-inflammatory GLA) are an amazing way to infuse well-rounded nutrition.
4. Maca Powder
If you’re already a fan of maca powder, you likely know how well maca works as an adaptogenic energy food in things like smoothies. But due to its strong flavor, it may come as a surprise to learn just how delicious maca is in soups, too! Lest we forget that maca is actually a root and goes extremely well with other roots of all varieties, as well as squashes and tubers. Add the fact that maca tastes even better warm than it does cold and it becomes understandable why this special superfood is such a soup staple.
5. Dulse Flakes
Seaweeds have been used in soups in coastal communities around the world ever since soups have been on the menu! But dulse flakes – a special deep-water red seaweed – have a particularly flexible function and flavor. Thanks to their salty, umami-rich taste, dulse flakes are delicious when added to all kinds of lentil and bean stews, chowders, and heartier pureed soups. And thanks to being packed with minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and naturally occurring sodium, they are a great pantry-staple to have on hand as a booster for all kinds of soups.
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