Get Cozy with Healthy Winter Soups

Have you heard of the term “hygge?”

It made the Oxford Dictionary’s “word of the year” list and could be the secret of why the Nordic people are able to survive such long and brutal winters with smiles on their faces. Hygee pronounced “hoo-guh” is a Danish word defined as a feeling of coziness, contentment or wellbeing. It is derived from the Norweigan word hugga meaning “to comfort or console” and loosely translates to the English word hug.

However, Hygge is more than just a word, and is more of a practice of enjoying life’s simple pleasures; relaxing with friends, enjoying good food, or creating a cozy atmosphere by sitting near a fire or candlelight. It can even mean staying home to read a book in cashmere socks instead of facing snowy roads. A Danish author, Louisa Thomsen Brits referred to hygge as a “practical way of creating a sanctuary in the middle of very real life.”

What a beautiful way to think of winter! Instead of wishing away the cold and ice or viewing winter as a necessary burden we must bear, the best way to survive the dark months of winter is to embrace them!  Get comfortable on a sheepskin rug, light fragrant candles, sip warm cider, and of course make lots and lots of soup!

The benefits of soup

Sipping a warm bowl of soup is not only comforting and delicious, there are many benefits of eating soup during the winter. Since drinking a cold beverage isn’t always as appealing in the winter, broth-based soups are a great way to stay hydrated. Adequate hydration helps keep your immune system healthy, keeps your skin from drying out, and can help with appetite control. Soups made with bone broth are especially nutritious as bone broth contains many beneficial proteins, minerals, and collagen which is needed for healthy joints and younger-looking skin.

Soups are also a great way to include more vegetables in your diet.  Many soups include celery, onion, carrots, potatoes, corn, or squash.  Use peppers and crushed tomatoes for a chili or sweet potatoes and corn for delicious chowder. Try adding greens such as kale, collards or spinach at the end of cooking for a little extra nutrition! Since salads and raw vegetables are cold and less appetizing on cold winter days, a soup is a great way to make sure you are still getting your daily quota of vegetables!

Another benefit to eating soups is that most of them contain garlic, herbs, and spices. These plants not only impart flavor, but many provide medicinal benefits. For instance allicin found in fresh, crushed garlic promotes healthy blood pressure, improves blood lipid levels, and is an anti-microbial which helps prevent you from getting sick. Parsley is used in many soups and is very high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. It also contains a gentle laxative which helps keeps your system regular. Many Asian soups use ginger which can be used to alleviate nausea, upset stomach, and can also fight the common cold with its antiviral components. Many other spices such as cloves, oregano, turmeric, sage and allspice have medicinal properties as well. Get creative with your soups and try adding spices for more than just flavor.

Lastly, soups are perfect for hygge because they take little effort and are perfect for reheating. Because you’ll want to be spending plenty of time relaxing and enjoying life the next few months, you’ll want to avoid spending all your time in the kitchen! Soups are easy to make (just leave on the stove to simmer!) portable, make great leftovers, and will help you stay healthy and cozy with minimal effort!

Try these comforting and nutritious soup recipes to kick off your hygge ritual of embracing the winter!

Hearty Ham and Bean Soup
Butternut Leek Soup


Hayley is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist, a part-time yoga teacher, and full-time mother. She is passionate about health, nature, and empowering others to reach their full health potential. She works as a health coach, nutrition writer, recipe developer and group fitness instructor. She is energetic and passionate about delicious food and promoting health of the body, mind, and spirit. She hopes to inspire others to eat closely to the way that nature intended, capitalizing on the amazing benefits of whole, unprocessed foods. Follow her posts for nutrition advice and delicious recipes!

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