Like salads, soups provide an easy way, in my opinion, to get great nutrition and taste in one healthy package. Further, soups are one of my favorite foods to prepare because they are almost always make-ahead, ingredient-flexible, easy to reheat, many times freezable and—in winter—warm and comforting. You can prepare soup on the weekend when you have time; then, enjoy the perfect mid-week quick supper—so no excuse to grab that expensive, health-compromising takeout. Soups only get better with time.

Cream of broccoli soup is common and pretty standard fare as most recipes go, so why not shake it up by trying to pack in more nutrition and flavor? You might even win over those broccoli-phobes, who swear it’s just like eating turfgrass (a.k.a. my husband).

For this recipe, I switched out white potatoes for more nutritious sweet potatoes. They thicken just the same, but are low in carbs and sugars (despite their name) and high in fiber and antioxidants. Further, they add incredible flavor. Slow cooking them and pureeing them will retain most of their nutritional benefit.

Wondering how you can add an interesting topping while avoiding gluten, dairy and fat—like no croutons or shredded cheese that could make the following recipe just pop with flavor? Try pan-toasted pumpkin seeds—those green ones in bulk at the health food store, also called pepitas. You’ll not only avoid what you don’t want, you’ll gain a little protein!

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Here are a few tips to help make cooking stress-free:

Have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go in the pot before you start.

spices sauteing in a pot

It can be easy to burn your spices at this point, which would not be good. So keep a close eye.

Keep the faith when adding the spices. You do need to watch carefully and keep stirring in this step so the spices don’t burn, but don’t rush this step—it’s where all the flavor really begins.

vegetables cooking down in a pot

Your vegetables need to be soft–softer than you’d serve them if they weren’t going to be puréed.

This soup needs to cook down slowly so the flavors concentrate. I guess the best way to think about it is to decide when the vegetables are slightly overdone.

And, notice I keep stressing organic ingredients here. There’s no point in cleaning the floor by using dirty water and a dirty mop. The food in your recipe should be as clean as your intentions for healthy eating.

Also, the rules for a soup like this are really loose. Feel like adding kale or spinach? Throw in a handful of chopped leaves near the end of the cooking, just before puréeing and adding your “milk.” Really don’t like broccoli—what about cauliflower? Give it a try! And, let us know how it all turns out.