With snow even across the South, this winter is perfect for warming up with soup or chili. Our previous post featured the commercially prepared soups, sauces and gravies. As with most commercially available foods, sodium was present in large amounts. Even low sodium preparations have a fair amount because salt is so important for shelf life. By making your own soup or chili, you can get the same warmth and avoid the salt. If you use some of the high potassium foods we have featured previously, your soup, chili, sauce or gravy can be a healthy meal.
By basing the soup on lentils, legumes, beans, squash or some of the other winter vegetables you will have contributed a lot to getting a high potassium meal. The amount of potassium found in 100 grams (about 3.5 oz.) of lentils and beans can be found in the table on beans at high potassium foods beans table. The spices for the soups, chilis, sauces and gravies for the most part will add potassium, although so little of the spice is used that only a little potassium is added. But add all the spice you like, because it can only enhance the potassium value.
To prepare beans and lentils for soup or chili, rinse them beforehand. For both beans and lentils rinse with cold water and then soak the beans, but not the lentils. After getting rid of the little rocks and dust, put the beans in 3 volumes of water for every volume of beans to soak in the refrigerator overnight. Toss out the beans that float to the top, and then cook for one to two hours as called for in your recipe, keeping covered with some water. After the initial cold water rinse, do not throw out the water they are in. You are throwing out some of the potassium when you do throw out the water they soaked in.
If you don't have time for an overnight soak, you can do a quick soak after the rinse by putting the beans in a pot covered with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat and cover with a tight lid. After an hour they are ready for cooking in your recipe.
After rinsing lentils, you don't need to soak them. You can simmer them in water for half an hour and they are ready for cooking in your recipe. A bit more detail on preparing beans and lentils is at http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Bean-Basics/Detail.aspx.
In most of the soup recipes calling for butter, olive oil can be substituted. It browns vegetables and meats just as well, adds the fat that improves flavor of the fat soluble spices, and substitutes healthy monounsaturated fat for the saturated fat of butter or margarine.
For a delicious soup with lentils, sweet potato, carrots and apples, see http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Sweet-Potato-Carrot-Apple-and-Red-Lentil-Soup/Detail.aspx. There are some healthier variations you may want to consider, though. Substitute olive oil for butter. Use a low sodium broth or make your own. Although one teaspoon of salt for six servings is not much, you may want to skip the salt. Depending on whether you enjoy a smooth or a more textured soup, you may prefer not to puree all of the soup, but just part.
A tasty tomato pesto sauce that can be used on pizza or as a spread can be found at http://www.cooksrecipes.com/sauce/sun-dried-tomato-pesto-recipe.html. It tastes great and has plenty of potassium (1/4 cup sundried tomatoes rehydrated).