Good, basic chicken soup is already one of the healthiest foods around, so the ways to make it healthier actually involve adding ingredients rather than taking them away.
1. Sturdy vegetables.
The easiest way to boost the healthiness quotient of chicken soup is to add plenty of vegetables. In addition to carrots, throw in peeled parsnips, sweet potatoes, winter squash and turnips.
Add pre-braised greens to your soup just before serving or add them during the last several minutes of cooking, depending on how tough they are. (Kale and collards, for example, can go as long as 30 minutes unless they’re very tender, while chard only needs 15 minutes; spinach and escarole are done in 5 minutes or less.)
Turning the soup into Mexican-style pozole not only involves adding fiber-rich hominy but antioxidant-packed herbs and chiles as well.
If you don’t mind the extra salt, add the naturally fermented spicy Korean cabbage to your soup. It has been shown to have anti-cancer and immune-promoting properties, among other benefits.
To increase the heartiness and fiber quotient of your soup, add some drained canned beans and let them simmer for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors.
6. Brown rice and avocado.
For a super healthy Colombian-style soup, add brown rice for a fiber boost and healthy fat-rich avocado.
7. Hummus and red peppers.
When you blend chickpea spread and silky jarred piquillo peppers with chicken broth, you create a rich but creamless broth for soup.
8. Better dumplings.
Love dumplings? Make them with whole-grain flour.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016). She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, a line of all-natural lip balms made in Brooklyn.