It’s cold outside. You’re looking for some comfort food that’s healthy and delicious. How about soup? It warms the soul and makes you feel better. Whether you make your own or heat up a can, it seems like everyone enjoys soup this time of year.

There are so many reasons to like soup:

Add your favorite ingredients – You can throw in the meat and vegetables you like and use up leftovers to create new variations on your favorite recipes, since soup lends itself to experimentation. The healthiest soups include fresh, low-fat ingredients that are low in salt and fat.

soup pie chartGet your veggies – Soup can help you get your recommended 4-5 servings of vegetables a day. Almost all vegetables work in some type of soup from tomato bisque to vegetable beef to creamy squash to chicken noodle. Add as many fresh or frozen veggies to your homemade soup as well as canned soup for increased nutrition and flavor.

Be healthy – The lean meats, beans and vegetables in soup contain fiber, protein and vitamins. Since most soups are low in fat, if made with lean meat, they are a good choice for anyone concerned about diet. Using fat-free broths, lean meats, skim milk, and lots of spice and veggies add to a healthier soup.

Fill up – Because soup contains so much water it fills you up with fewer calories. When Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., conducted research at Penn State University, she discovered that students who ate chicken and rice soup instead of a chicken and rice casserole, consumed fewer calories yet reported being equally satisfied.

Save money and time – Making your own soup is an inexpensive way to pack nutrition and a quick meal in a bowl. You can make it in large batches and freeze it. To save space, freeze flat in freezer bags and stack on top of each other once they are frozen. Reheat for an easy lunch or dinner.

Feel better – Whether you have cold or just want some comfort food, soup can make you feel physically and psychologically better. Doctors say chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory and speeds up the movement of mucus, helping relieve congestion when you have a cold. Or it could just be the association with mom or our favorite caretaker that comforts us. Either way, why not reach for a food that does the body good.

Here are some links to healthy recipes:

– Dr. Oz’s Family Chicken Soup Recipe

– Cooking Light 101 Healthy Soup Recipes

Health Magazine 12 Healthy Soup Recipes

What are your favorite soups and recipes? Please comment below.