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Make Ahead Soups and Stews

Time Saving Nutrition for Busy Professionals

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Busy lives require good time management, and make-ahead meals can tip the scales towards better nutrition when time is tight. The soups and stews that follow benefit from sitting for a day in your fridge so flavors can meld. They can also be frozen, so you can make a pot of soup or stew and freeze it in single serve containers for lunch or dinner on the fly. Better yet, cook cooperatively with a friend and turn a chore into a social event. Share the grocery bill, cook and eat a good meal together and split the remaining booty. This is a great way for busy young professionals to save time and money while still nourishing their social lives and their bellies. ALWAYS make sure you cool soups down before refrigerating. NEVER put hot soup in the fridge with the lid on tight; doing so will make a soup go sour because the heat has nowhere to go. If you don't have time to cool a soup to room temperature, just cover the pot most of the way leaving a good sized air hole for vapor to escape.

1. Roasted Pumpkin and Leek Soup

Jen Hoy
This easy recipe for roasted pumpkin soup can be made with sugar or Cinderella pumpkin (pictured), Hokkaido squash, Red Kuri, Kabocha, or any other deep orange, dense squash. Squash and pumpkin are rich in nutrients, especially beta-carotene, and very nourishing to the spleen and stomach. Roasting the vegetables creates a rich and more complex flavor, and actually makes for an easy soup: all you do is add water to the roasted veggies. You can add a dab of Romesco Sauce when serving to give a bit of extra richness to the soup, but we like it as is! If you're looking for a spicier and more complex flavor, try Thai Style Pumpkin Soup.

2. Vegan Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Variations

This classic, low fat, vegan butternut squash and apple soup recipe is rich in beta-carotene, and is strengthening for the spleen and digestion. It is perfect for grounding and centering the nervous system and is appropriate for any time of day, including breakfast. If you are not fond of sage, use rosemary or thyme instead.

Other squash soup options include Grounding Soup, fragrant Curried Winter Squash and Sweet Potato Stew, hearty Southwestern Squash Soup with Cumin and Corn, or lycopene-rich Tomato, Squash and Vegetable Soup.

3. Squash and White Bean Soup

Broth based vegetable and bean soups are light but nourishing and warming. We get plenty of plant nutrients, along with the protein of beans. Other brothy vegetable and bean soups include classic Italian Minestrone, and Lebanese Vegetable Soup with Chickpeas and Artichokes. These soups can be made in 20 minutes if you use canned beans so they're great for weeknight cooking too.

4. Millet and Vegetable Soup

This recipe for millet and vegetable soup hits the spot on a cool day, and can be a one-pot meal. It is an excellent savory breakfast option. You can vary the vegetables according to what you have on hand, or your mood, but make sure you always use the base of carrot/celery/onion. Toasting the millet adds another layer of flavor to the soup.

Another popular soup with grain in it is Mushroom Barley Soup, and this vegan version is strengthening for digestion and excellent for building the blood.

5. Curried Split Yellow Pea Soup

Mild curry adds anti-inflammatory and digestive spices to this hearty, comforting soup. Add greens to the pot or serve them on the side along with cornbread or millet for a delicious, easy supper. For a soup with a little more kick, try Curried Red Lentil Soup with Jalapeno. Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup is lighter than most bean soups, with an interestingly complex flavor of cumin and coriander enhanced by a touch of lemon when serving.

6. Hearty Black Bean Soup with Chipotle and Cumin

Hearty bean soups can be served as is, wrapped in a tortilla or over cooked grains to make complete proteins. They freeze well and are the perfect go-to when we need stick-to-the-ribs nourishment but don't want animal food. Rustic Southwestern Black Bean Soup, Red Bean Soup, or Hearty Black Bean and Corn Stew are all easy to make and can be prepared with canned beans if time is tight.

7. Creamy Flageolet Soup with Lemon and Sweet Herbs

Jody Hoy
This wonderful recipe for creamy flageolet bean soup with lemon and sweet herbs is lighter than most bean soups, and is excellent year round. Flageolets are small beans that range in color from pale green to white. If you cannot find them, substitute white navy beans. Other bean soups and stews with a more European sensibility include Lentil Stew with Fall Vegetables, Italian Stewed Lentils and Stewed Adzuki Beans with Rosemary and Thyme

8. North African Chicken and Chickpea Stew

Jen Hoy
Hearty stews require a bit of time, but the end result is well worth the effort, and they a perfect make ahead meals that also freeze well. This recipe is a hearty dish laced with saffron and spices; chickpeas and tomato round out the mix. Another wonderful chicken stew is Pollo al Cacciatore, or chicken stewed with wild mushrooms, tomato and herbs.

9. Seitan Bourguinon Stew

Seitan Bourguignon Stew is a delicious vegan dish, dense with vegetables and the rich flavor of red wine. Vegan Brazilian Feijoada (black bean stew)and Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Saffron and Spices are two other dishes that follow a global trail.

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