"You can have a filling and satisfying meal without extra calories or hidden sodium and other additives commonly seen in store-bought soup stocks and bases. Feel free to swap the chicken breast for other sources of lean protein, you’ll just need to adjust the cooking time." —Stefan
- 2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1 cup salt, (or use vinegar), to brine
- 1 1/2 pound onions, diced
- 1/2 cup garlic, chopped
- 1 cup thyme, fresh
- 1 cup coriander, fresh or cilantro
- 1 pound red potatoes
- 1 1/2 pound cucumber
- 1 pound pumpkin
Fill a soup/stock pot a third of the way up with water and place over high heat.
Place chicken in a bowl and remove any excess skin and fat from the meat with a knife. Coat chicken with a generous layer of salt. (This is my preferred method of a brine but vinegar can also be used to achieve the same result.)
Add onion and garlic to the pot of water along with the thyme and coriander. Boil 15 minutes to extract the flavors, creating the base for your soup.
Rinse the brine solution off of the chicken; multiple rinses may be needed. Hold the chicken breasts under running water and massage the solution off the meat.
Place meat on a cutting board and cut into chunks or strips. Carefully add chicken to the soup base and stir to make sure all components are mixed. Cover and cook over high heat for 25 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, wash and dice the red potatoes, cucumbers and pumpkin.
After 25 minutes, stir the vegetables into the soup. (Note: Feel free to add water as you go, you likely will need to. When adding water, add it after the next stage of ingredients as opposed to adding the water before.)
After 15 minutes over high heat, gently stir the soup—the pumpkin will have softened and the broth will now take on an orange color.
After an additional 10 minutes, reduce heat to medium-to-low and continue to stir. As more of the pumpkin softens and breaks down, the broth will become thicker and take on body. Feel free to taste the broth at this stage and modify with any additional ingredients to achieve your desired taste.
MORE HEALTHY COOKING TIPS FROM STEFAN:
Learn about his weight-loss journey here!
1) Making soup from scratch will likely take time to perfect, but just excluding store-bought broth and the sodium found in it makes this a healthier alternative. I've made this soup with beef and pork shoulders, and plan to recreate it using tofu as a substitution for meat proteins. I encourage others to try out a variety of vegetables as well. The beauty of making soup is that you can go any direction you want with it. When I make it, I tend to throw in things that I already have in the refrigerator.
2) The point I stress the most about my cooking and eating habits now in comparison to years ago is my avoidance of salt/sodium. It's extremely easy for substantial amounts of salt to slip into diets without noticing. Things like buying garlic salt, thinking it's the same as garlic powder, often lead to inadvertently high sodium levels in our dishes, which we're not inclined to question because let's face it, it tastes good.
3) Try to maintain a fridge of mostly perishable items. A rule of thumb is that if it can go bad relatively quickly, then it's likely good for you. Reduce your dependency on salt, preservatives and processed foods at your own pace, and gradually work towards more natural ways of food preparation and consumption.”