Low Carb Kitchen
Carb Solution: Hot Summer / Cold 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:
Since a cup of hot soup is a good way to warm up against a frigid December day, then it seems reasonable to expect some cooling comfort from a bowl of cold soup on a sweltering day in the middle of August! So here’s a nutritious, low carb recipe that also gets one in and out of the kitchen quickly; in fact, double or even triple this soup’s measures to avoid the heat of the kitchen for a while in favor of feeding off of a big pot of cold soup that will stay fresh and delicious in the ‘frig for several heat wave meals!
- 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.
- Both the Index and Load scores should be checked to determine how a food affects the metabolism. A parsnip, for instance, has a very high glycemic index (97) but the fiber in a parsnip slows the conversion of its starch to glucose, so its glycemic load score is a very “digestible” 10.
Edamame are immature soy beans picked in their pods before they are fully ripe for processing. Soy beans, in any form, are considered an extremely whole food, nutritionally, being packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. There is evidence that consuming edamame decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and overall mortality. The bean can also promote a healthy complexion and hair as well as boost energy. The calcium and magnesium in soy may help to regulate blood sugar and prevent migraine headaches. Soy consumption, in general, has been associated with a lower risk of several specific age and lifestyle-related conditions, and with improvements in overall health. While Edamame are naturally sweet and buttery, they have an extremely low GI and GL due to the bean’s high fiber content.
I have always enjoyed Edamame, in and out of the shell, as an out of hand snack food – sometimes roasted / sometimes steamed, always sprinkled with salt and best when accompanied by a good quality brew. However, this soup came about in trying to come up with an interesting first course for a small dinner party scheduled for a hot summer evening [aboard a boat!]. The dish needed to be prepared ahead of time because of limited prep space and I was tired of the “safe” easy out of the standard summer salad [boring]. While not everyone may have a tub or two of Melissa’s shelled Edamame and some fresh ginger in the ‘frig (occupational hazard), finding these two components was the inspiration for the final dish. Though a Ginger-Edamame cold salad idea morphed into the more subtle use of the ginger when I found a recipe for ginger crème fraiche on the ‘net. To be honest, turning the edamame into a soup became the best way to deliver the crème fraiche as it was just the kind of interesting starter course to the meal that I was looking for. Besides, never turn down an excuse to incorporate a dollop of fancy whipped cream into any recipe!
The dish worked deliciously for the weather it was designed. That is, the chilled soup was served on a hot and humid evening, so was very much appreciated by my guests. Though I should add that a few days later, during a summer thunderstorm, I heated-up some leftover soup, this time stirring the ginger-laced crème fraiche right into the heating mixture, and it made for an equally comforting lunch. While I much preferred the weather of the first serving, this dish can really be enjoyed rain or shine!
Chilled Edamame Soup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium Perfect Sweet onion, finely chopped
4 cups chicken stock or broth (separated)
Melissa’s Shelled Edamame
Salt to taste
¼ cup crème fraiche [see below]
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
To make Crème Fraiche:
combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well and refrigerate up to 10 days.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the onion and sauté until softened. Then add in 3 cups of the stock and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Finally, add in the edamame and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Let cool slightly, then puree the mixture in a blender until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours.
Finish & Plating: Whisk the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock into the soup and season with salt. In a small bowl, combine the crème fraîche with the grated ginger. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with the ginger crème fraiche and serve.