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Why Soup Is Your Diet

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With the weather getting colder and the holiday celebrations beginning, many of us are doing less physical activity and more eating. One way to help you manage your weight this fall and winter is by turning to an old favorite: soup.

Why Soup?
Soups are a great way to promote weight loss because they fill you up quickly and keep you feeling more satisfied longer. Thanks to all the water in soup, you find yourself eating less during your meal while reducing your cravings to snack in between meals. A 2007 study published in the medical journal Appetite confirmed participants who ate soup before at the start of their meal consumed less overall, so you can either have soup on its own or have a simple soup as an appetizer.

Soups are also easy to digest because of all that liquid and the fact the ingredients have been cooked down a bit. When food is easy on the digestive system, that means less symptoms of indigestion like bloating, constipation and diarrhea but also that the body is much better able to absorb the vital nutrients from the meal.

Lastly, soups are an affordable way to stay on track with your diet and anyone can master making them. No more cans!

Rules for Healthy Soups
If you find yourself getting bored easily when trying to change up your diet, soups are the perfect way to add some variety. Once you know the basics, you can create a variety of satisfying and delicious meals. But there are some key guidelines to keep mind:

  • When you can't make your own, choose low-sodium stocks and broths for a base.
  • Shop for canned ingredients that are organic, packed in water and free of BPA.
  • Swap out heavy creams for Greek yogurt or low-fat or fat-free sour cream for richer soups.
  • Always make sure the soup is a balanced combination of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Remember, you can go crazy with veggies -- add as many as you want to bulk up the soup.
  • Ditch any "finishing touches" like a drizzle of oil or butter --  a lot of times they're just to make the soup more shiny in appearance. Really.
  • If you must have something to dip, go for whole-grain or sprouted bread.
  • Cutting ingredients into uniform sizes will help the soup cook evenly.

We recommend making a large batch of soup at the beginning of the week and portioning it out right away so you have meals ready to take to work.

Easy Soup Recipes
Making your own soup is key here, as processed soups and those found at restaurants and fast food joints can be loaded with extra calories from butter and cream as well as salt and preservatives. The following three soups you may have bought in a can before or gotten as takeout, but we're here to show you how to lighten them up.

1. Basic Tomato Soup
Tomato soup is a classic, and also one of the easiest to make. Use this recipe as a base and add any additional dried or fresh spices you like.

Heat the olive over medium heat and cook the shallot for 3 to 5 minutes until slightly browned. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Potato Soup
For a heartier option, potato soup is a common choice. But potatoes can be high in carbs if not prepared properly and many traditional recipes use lots of cream. Not to worry, we have a trick for lightening it up.

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 qt low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 large, russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

Heat the olive over medium heat and cook the shallot for 3 to 5 minutes until slightly browned. Add the stock, potatoes, bay leaf and thyme and boil for 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove the bay leaf. Using a blender, puree the mixture in batches until smooth. Stir in the yogurt and serve immediately. Add additional stock or water if the soup is too thick.

3. Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 qt low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 shallot or small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large celery ribbed, halved and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 8 oz buckwheat noodles
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat and cook vegetables until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

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