As a dietitian, I always encourage my clients to include as much color and variety in their meals as possible to maximize the nutritional benefits. This is why I love this quick, easy soup. It includes a range of colors all in one dish, with each color contributing something unique to help your body function more optimally.
The red tomatoes and bell peppers provide lycopene, a nutrient that may protect against cancers of the prostate, breast, and skin and reduce the risk of heart attacks. In a clinical trial, subjects were given either fresh tomato, tomato juice, or a lycopene drink (all delivering 40 mg of lycopene/day) for six weeks. This study found that triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol decreased, and HDL cholesterol increased in subjects who consumed fresh tomato and tomato juice. The red veggies also provide anthocyanin, a phytonutrient that may also help reduce the risk of cancer and protect the heart and brain.
Orange/yellow carrots, bell peppers, and pumpkin offer beta-carotene to support healthy vision, the immune system, and bone health as this carotenoid converts to vitamin A in the body. In one large-scale study from the Netherlands, participants were followed for 10 years and their meal plans were analyzed for fruit and vegetable intake in four color categories: green, orange/yellow, red/purple, and white. Among these four color categories, it was orange/yellow foods that were determined to be the most protective against cardiovascular disease, with carrots being the single most cardioprotective food.
Green celery contains certain fibers that can benefit the stomach. In animal studies, these fibers, such as apiuman, have been shown to improve the integrity of the stomach lining, decrease risk of stomach ulcers, and better control the levels of stomach secretions.
Finally, white onion and garlic both belong to the allium (which happens to be the Latin word for garlic) family, a group of sulfurrich foods. These foods have anti-cancer benefits, may help protect the heart, support the body’s detoxification processes, and help balance blood sugar. Recent research has shown significant decreases in fasting blood sugar levels following garlic intake. The authors of this study combined results from seven previous studies to further confirm the influence of garlic on other markers of blood sugar, including hemoglobin A1c.
So eat your rainbow of color every day to reap the benefits that all these veggies can provide!
Colorful Veggie Chicken Soup
- 6-8 cups chicken or veggie broth (or include bone broth for extra protein)
- 2 organic red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 organic yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lb carrots, chopped
- 5 stalks organic celery, chopped
- 4-5 bay leaves
- 2 cans organic diced tomatoes
- 1 can organic pumpkin puree
- 2 lbs pasture-raised chicken, diced
- 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
- 2-3 tsp Herbs de Provence
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp cumin
- Dash of cayenne (if you like some spice)
- Black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
Add oil to skillet and brown chicken, but do not cook all the way through. Add all ingredients to a large soup pot, except pumpkin, and simmer for 1-1 ½ hours. Then add pumpkin and cook until thickened.
NOTE: you can also just put all ingredients in a large slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours.