This is a soup I've been making since I was a teenager. It's one of those standby recipes that's imprinted in my memory bank so I never need to look up the ingredients. It's incredibly easy to make and you don't need to concern yourself with exact measurements. Don't be concerned about the large clumps of garlic, this is what gives the soup it's unique and super flavourful dimensions.
Broccoli often tops the superfoods list with cauliflower following not far behind. Both are packed with vitamins and minerals and they’re filling as well as low in calories. Eaten on their own, they can be little bland. However, turning them into a broccoli and cauliflower soup completely transforms their flavour so even those who normally wouldn’t touch a broccoli stalk or a cauliflower head, will be suitably impressed.
The addition of smoked ham gives the soup an added smoky depth, but leaving it out doesn’t detract from the overall flavor. Omitting the ham makes this soup suitable for vegetarians and if you swap the milk for almond milk you have a vegan soup.
Time: 45-55 minutes including preparation and cooking time
Cooking vegetables means losing some of their valuable nutrients. However, with soup, you're eating the liquid which is full of those vitamins and minerals.
This soup contains plenty of garlic which is anti inflammatory, acts as an antioxidant, helps boost immunity and can lower risk of heart disease. Plus it adds so much flavour to our meals.
Broccoli and cauliflower are both cruciferous vegetables and have a similar nutrient profile. These include their cancer preventing properties, fibre for gut and bowel health and are low in calories, plus many other wonderful nutrients.
Love it or hate it, we all know broccoli is good for us. It's green, so it must be, right? Broccoli is a member of the brassica family of vegetables and is accredited with super status thanks to its numerous health benefits. It not only protects cells from DNA damage, it has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. So yes, it fully deserves its accolades.
Here are a few other reasons you should be including broccoli as a regular part of your diet.
Source of protein
We may not realise that vegetables also contain protein. And broccoli is one of the best. Indeed, gram for gram, broccoli provides more protein than most other vegetables. Every 100g of raw broccoli contains 2.8g of protein making it one of the highest scoring green veg for protein. Protein is essential at all stages of life and is important for repairing, maintaining and building new cells. Generally, the average woman needs around 45g of protein and men 55g each day.
We should aim for, at the very least, a minimum of 30g of fibre per day. Broccoli is a high fibre green vegetable with 2.6g 100g eaten raw or 3.3g when steamed. This is roughly the same amount of fibre as a slice of wholegrain bread or a small baked potato. Fibre plays a vital role in keeping the intestinal tract in good working order and may help reduce risks of colon cancer.
Improves blood sugar levels
Broccoli takes longer to break down in the digestive system which in turn slows the rate glucose is released from the body. This has the knock on effect of improving the body’s blood-sugar response.
Helps with weight loss
In its natural raw state, broccoli is low in calories with 35 per 100g. Due to its fibre content it takes longer to digest, particularly when it's uncooked. This leads to an increased feeling of fullness, making it a good choice for weight control. It's also low in fat and saturated fat.
Low in carbs and sugar
With only 6.6g of carbohydrates per 100g of raw broccoli and 1.6g of sugars, broccoli is ideal for anyone following a lower carbohydrate diet or who is trying to keep their sugar intake down.
Cooking for maximum nutrition
The way we cook our vegetables has an effect on the amount of nutrients available to us. When cooked, our body is able to absorb more nutrients from the vegetable which gives cooking an advantage over raw. Of all the different ways of cooking, it's steaming that retains the most nutrients and enables us to absorb more of them. Boiling is fine when it's part of a soup as the nutrients can still be gained from the liquid. Stir frying is done over a high heat and cooks quickly so retains most nutrients.
Rich in vitamins and minerals
Broccoli contains high amounts of vitamins A, C, K and folate and is a good source of Bs (not B12). Eating high levels of vitamin K obtained through food rather is linked to greater bone density and reduced bone loss in early post-menopausal women.
For minerals, broccoli provides a decent amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese. However, as mentioned above, cooking broccoli alters its nutrient status, with most nutrients increasing when cooked. The exceptions are folate and Vitamin C which is always lost when cooking, so it's worth bearing this in mind when considering your vitamin C and folate requirements.
While broccoli is a nutrient superpower for the majority of us, those with thyroid problems should avoid excessive consumption in its raw state. This is due to a. substance found in brassicas called glucosinolates which may interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Cooking broccoli appears to inactivate these substances so those with deficient thyroid hormone production should choose this form so they can benefit from its health giving properties.
While there’s no doubt the health benefits of broccoli provide an important contribution to daily nutritional needs, keep in mind that for optimum health, no single food can provide all necessary nutrients. Eating two or three servings of broccoli each week may help to reduce the risks of many serious diseases, including cancer, and should be included as part of a healthy and well balanced diet.
Were you told to eat your greens when you were young and now go out of your way to avoid them? It's unfortunate that many of the healthiest of vegetables are also the most bitter. Just imagine, if healthy veg tasted great, no one would be overweight and the dieting industry wouldn't exist!
Many of the veg we love to hate provide us with the greatest nutrition benefits and avoiding them could mean you're missing out on key vitamins and minerals. Attempts at disguising the worst offenders includes smothering with high fat sauces, covering with batter or drowning them in butter to try making them edible. But all this does is turn a healthy veg into a calorific and unhealthy one. However, it is possible, with a few simple ingredients, to turn healthy vegetables into gourmet delights while still retaining their ‘healthy’ status.
Does the sight of a Brussels sprout make you go 'urrgh' or the whiff of a sardine turn your stomach? If so, you're not alone. It's not only children who turn up their noses at certain foods, adults aren't averse to this kind of behaviour either.
Unfortunately, many of the foods we love to hate provide us with the greatest benefits and avoiding them could mean you’re missing out on vital nutrients. However, just because a food doesn’t appeal to you in one form, doesn’t mean you won’t like it cooked another way. And you never know, you may find your taste buds actually like something you once swore would never pass your lips again.