Warm weather is coming, but it’s not here yet. So there is still time to serve up warm and hearty soups, especially when they are jam packed with antioxidant-rich vegetables and seasonings. Antioxidants, including nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E and selenium, help to slow the oxidation process and ward off cell damage caused by free radicals. Soup can pack a nutritional punch—that’s because the concentrations of some of the phytochemicals actually are enhanced by cooking and consuming the liquid ensures that you get the benefit of all the nutrients the ingredients have to offer. Patti Tveit Milligan, a registered dietitian in Phoenix, worked with Gregory Anne Cox, a chef in Hampton Bays, New York, to provide you with these warm and healthy antioxidant-rich recipes.

THE RECIPES

Generally speaking, the more intense the color, the richer the antioxidant content of a vegetable, fruit or legume, which is why these recipes feature ingredients such as squash…sweet potatoes…green lentils…and escarole. Exceptions: Onions and garlic, although white, provide high levels of antioxidant flavonoids.

Minestrone with French Lentils

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin or chopped fine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 small yellow squash, diced
  • ¼ pound trimmed green beans, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 4 cups escarole (cut leaves across in 1-inch strips)
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on a medium setting. Put in garlic, onion, lentils and celery, and stir. Add broth and tomatoes, and simmer for 40 minutes. Then place squash, green beans, escarole and zucchini in the pot. Season with salt and pepper, and return to a boil. Lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Serves six to eight.

Squash and Apple Soup

Soup ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into chunks (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, in chunks (about 1 lb.)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut
  • 1 large or 2 medium apples, peeled, quartered and cored
  • ¾ Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4-to-8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups apple cider or juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • Topping:
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup

Put all of the soup ingredients into a heavy-bottomed stockpot or large soup pot. If the liquid does not cover the vegetables, add more stock until it does. Bring to a boil and stir, then lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Put some of the liquid and some of the vegetables into a blender. Run the blender until the soup is smooth. Pour each batch of soup into another pot. Repeat until you have blended all the soft vegetables and liquid. Stir well. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. For the topping: Mix the yogurt and the maple syrup in a small bowl. Drizzle on top of each bowl of soup. Serves six to eight.