All Souped Up: Soups Get the Superfood Treatment in New Cookbook by Julie Morris

September 21, 2016 11:34 pm Last Updated: March 8, 2018 5:30 pm

What is a soup but a warm, savory smoothie? It’s a thought that often comes up for Julie Morris, the best-selling author of “Superfood Smoothies,” and the recently released “Superfood Soups: 100 Delicious, Energizing & Plant-Based Recipes.”

The cookbook has been a natural progression for Morris, who makes a sweet smoothie to start off the day and then another later on—but a savory one.

In the grand scheme of history, smoothies are, of course, latecomers, while soups have had enduring staying power.

“We have this instinctual pull toward soups. I don’t know whether that is because we’ve been making it for so long or because our body just knows how to digest it so well, it feels good on such an internal level,” Morris said in a phone interview from her home in Ventura, in southern California. “That’s what soups have the power to do: They make us feel nourished, satiated, and energized at the same time.”

“Making soup has to be one of the most fun things you can possibly make in your kitchen. You’re sitting there, it’s bubbling away on the stove, it makes your entire house smell good,
you’ve made something that ‘s incredibly flavorful. That’s just the best situation you can possibly ask for from cooking,” said author Julie Morris. (Courtesy of Sterling)

Morris points out that in traditional recipes, most of the ingredients and structure are the same “but then you have this other 20 percent room for interpretation,” she said.

The 20 percent that Morris brings is in the form of superfoods—ingredients with health benefits, ranging from maca root to goji berries to medicinal mushrooms.

Some of these superfoods, like turmeric or quinoa, have been embraced by chefs. Others, like maca root or goji berries, might only be used in smoothies. But as Morris suggests, why not put them in a hearty, old-fashioned soup?

“For example, maca is a really fun ingredient to work with in soups,” Morris said. “It goes with so many different types of vegetables, especially heartier vegetables like carrots and potatoes. And what’s cool about maca is that it’s not even a superfood you have to hide the flavor of. You can really feature its earthy, butterscotch-like flavor.”

Sweet Potato & Maca Soup With Green Harissa. (Courtesy of Sterling)
Sweet Potato & Maca Soup With Green Harissa. (Courtesy of Sterling)

One of Morris’s favorite soups, featured in her cookbook, is a sweet potato and maca soup with green harissa. “It’s just a really fun way to introduce the flavors of superfoods and, of course, their benefits,” she said.

Medicinal mushrooms, Morris said, are a bit more abstract. Available in powder form, cordyceps, reishi, or chaga mushrooms “don’t really add a tremendous amount of flavor, but you’re getting a lot of benefits” and they are easy to add to soups.

Regarding other superfoods, goji adds sweetness; hemp seeds, when blended, create creaminess, or when used as a topping, add texture. Seaweed lends an umami flavor, all the more important since the recipes are plant-based, she said.

Morris does not recommend bone broths, which have garnered spectacular popularity, explaining how heavy metals can accrue in animal bones, ligaments, and skin.

“As continuing studies come out, I think it’s not going to be all positive,” she said. “If we’re looking at it from a nutrient standpoint, plants are going to be a better option.”

Golden Cauliflower Soup With Seared Mushrooms. (Courtesy of Sterling)
Golden Cauliflower Soup With Seared Mushrooms. (Courtesy of Sterling)

Stocking Up Your Pantry

If you’re getting started stocking your pantry with superfoods, Morris recommends a handful of versatile ones: dried goji berries, hemp seeds, some kind of mushroom powder, dulse flakes, and chia seeds.

Though the initial investment can be substantial in cost, Morris points out that the ingredients last for a long time.

“They’re inherently shelf-stable, as they’re dried ingredients. And because they’re superfoods, you need so little of them per serving to get all the benefits. What we’re talking about is a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time. … When we’re talking about the per-serving standpoint, it’s really not that much,” she said.

See the recipe for Golden Cauliflower Soup With Seared Mushrooms

See the recipe for Sweet Potato & Maca Soup With Green Harissa

(Courtesy of Sterling)
(Courtesy of Sterling)