Low Carb Kitchen
A Fall Harvest Soyrizo Soup
By Dennis Linden
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources; not to mention the affect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].
Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the blood stream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate theses calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods that have low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.
A Quickie Glycemic Primer:
While this blog usually presents a glycemic-friendly version of a dish that is normally high with carbs, I am departing from that usual format to share a soup recipe that celebrates the Fall vegetable harvest with virtually no measureable carbohydrates at all. There is nothing so warming and satisfying as a hearty bowl of soup on a crisp autumn day! Even the act of cooking up a batch of good soup is a comforting experience as the aromas of the simmering pot first fill the kitchen and then continue to permeate the entire house as the flavors develop. During this process I admit to stepping outside for the sole purpose of re-entering the house again just to get a fresh whiff of that unique smell of a simmering pot of soup!
- The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
- The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
Actually, even this recipe is a make-over of sorts from the original; this time to cut down on the calories rather than carb count. October always puts me in a soup-making mood and I found this one on the ‘net while searching for a new soup recipe. However the original recipe called for chorizo, a spicy and very flavorful Mexican sausage that is packed with dietary “compromises”. Though this traditional sausage is very low in carbs, it is extremely high in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium -- other than that it’s delicious! Melissa’s Soyrizo to the rescue! This soy product replicates the distinctive spices that are synonymous with chorizo without all the bad stuff. Seriously – as a former chorizo-head who cannot pass up plate of chorizo & eggs [con Huevos] whenever tempted, in spite of the risk of clogged arteries, soyrizo has been a lifesaver. Literally!
What also caught my attention in this recipe was that the rest of the flavors of this extremely hearty soup all come from a group of ten common field vegetables. And I mean ALL the flavors – notice that there are no supporting herbs listed in the ingredient list, not even salt or pepper. While I tend to not cook with much S&P and never put either on a table until AFTER guests have had a chance to taste whatever is being served first, it is still surprising to find a recipe that relies solely on fresh vegetables that are cooked together with the soyrizo seasonings to produce this deeply flavorful and hearty broth.
This field-fresh ingredient list also cuts down on the cooking time compared to a soup with a protein ingredient that usually requires hours of cooking. Instead, the pot needs closer attention in order to cook the vegetables until just tender— aim for a pasta-like al dente; overcooking the mix can result in a loss of both flavor and texture. In fact, the hearty quality of this soup really depends in part upon retaining a variety of textures when cooked just right. The prep can go almost as quickly as the cooking time since the ingredient list is added to the pot in three groups; just prep as you go while each succeeding group cooks! If one is quick with a knife, the short stovetop time can mean a soup made from scratch, ready in a little more than an hour from cutting board to that first warming ladleful. Savor the Fall harvest with a simmering pot of good soup!
Hearty Harvest Soup
1 package Melissa’s Soyrizo, removed from skin
1 Perfect Sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1½ cups green cabbage, thinly sliced or chopped
1½ cups cauliflower, chopped
1½ cups chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped (about 5 cups)
1 zucchini, chopped
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (garnish)
Heat oil in a large pot, then add soyrizo, onion, celery, carrot, garlic and red bell pepper; sauté until fragrant and soyrizo just starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add in cabbage, cauliflower, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
Add Swiss chard and zucchini and stir to combine; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for another 15-20 minutes until vegetables are just tender.
Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.