Well, it's definitely that time of the year again: Soup Season. It's bitterly cold, the melted snow has left hard Earth and ice and the Wind has returned full force now to dust everything with just enough snow to make it extra slippery. All wonderful reasons to stay in-doors as much as possible right now, and all wonderful reasons to either set a pot to simmer on the back burner or finally whip out that crock pot.
My favorite kinds of soup to make are all seasonally appropriate: they are simple, they utilize dried goods from the Harvest, they warm you up, and are nutritionally dense. I increase the nutritional content in a way that befits my kitchen witch tendencies: I add copious amounts of herbs.
For a soup base, whether it be water or milk, I always add a ton of onions and garlic to keep immunities boosted and help prevent Winter colds. I also add a handful of dried Dandelion Root right away. As it gets to cook for quite a while, the root bits are reduced to mush and fully release their incredibly high amount of Vitamins and Minerals. Dried Dandelion leaves could be used instead, but they should be added just prior to serving to maintain the highest possible level of nutritional content in the soup. Interestingly, although Dandelion does tend to have a bitter taste, especially the Root, this taste is neutralized by the long cooking process and addition of other ingredients. So, trust me: you won't ruin your soup by adding this Bitter Herb, and your picky family members won't notice it's inclusion.
Once the soup is fully cooked, I also like to add dried Alfalfa Leaves and Blossoms. It does tend to have a rather grassy taste, but, like the bitterness of Dandelion, this taste is negated by the other ingredients in the soup. I also add a handful of dried Stinging Nettle Leaf to further boost the nutrition. This herb will change the taste slightly, so starting with a teaspoon and working your way up to a half-cup or more gradually will help transition any picky eaters. The taste is vegetal and green, a midnote taste, not unpleasant but it does take some people a while to become accustomed to it.
These three herbs will add an incredible amount of nutrients to your soup: Vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and iron, too. And best of all, these are all herbs that are fairly easy to come by during the growing season, you probably normally have at least two of them growing in your yard!
Throwing the Bones