It is getting quite chilly out there. There is nothing like a nutritious, delicious soup to warm your heart and bring some cozy to your dinner table, lunchtime, or even breakfast or snack (for real️❗).️ Soup makes a savory, satisfying meal, brimming with flavor and garden-fresh ingredients. It is no wonder soup has quite the reputation for being a bowl of delightful satisfaction. And satisfaction is key for weight management. Several studies have found that eating soup as a preload can decrease hunger, increase fullness, and reduce subsequent meal intake. Borrowing the “pre-game” phrase college kids use when drinking before they go out (not encouraging this here😜), but pre-gaming your meals with a cup of soup this winter may help decrease your appetite, feeling fuller with less food intake, therefore eating less at meals…hitting your weight loss or weight management goals. Sounds simple, right? Nothing is ever simple, but there are many reasons to grab a spoon this season.
What you are scooping up with your spoon from your cup or bowl of soup of course matters. For a meal, a balanced bowl can easily meet the standards of our balanced plate (50% non-starchy veggies, 25% lean protein, 25% whole grains). Going with a clear-broth-based soup, with lots of wholesome non-starchy veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and savory herbs, can bring satisfying goodness. For a pre-game cup, it may not contain the full balance of the plate as in your bowl, but including veggies and some lean protein in your cup will provide you with added fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, increasing your sense of fullness and satisfaction from your overall meal…possibly decreasing your total caloric consumption for your meal. Be sure to be mindful of sodium in store-bought or restaurant soups, and while cooking at home. Keep your daily sodium levels to less than 2,300 mg, or less than 1,500 mg if you have high blood pressure. When purchasing soups, the healthiest options contain about 350–600 milligrams of sodium per serving, but one cup of canned soup can contain 800 or more milligrams of sodium! Just be sure to check the nutrition facts label before purchasing 👀.
Soups were originally created to stretch expensive meats with economic staples such as corn, potatoes, rice, and legumes, naturally concentrating on fiber and complex carbohydrates. Our ancestors were well ahead of the health craze with their nutritious balance in soups! Staying away from the creamy soups with their added saturated fat and calories, yet enriching your meals with flavorful vegetables, herbs, spices, and full-bodied broths, you do not need any or very little sodium, to enhance the flavors. Soups could be created for a week at a time, or even frozen in single portions to consume as needed.
As we enter a new year, focus on creating nourishing, healthful, varied, and delicious meals. Soups can be a quick, easy option, providing hydration, extra fiber, loads of vitamins and nutrients, satisfying your appetite, your soul🍲.
Before we get cookin’, for an extra twist, let’s test your knowledge of various global soups (thank you Hirsch 🥰!). Here are the names of a specific soup or a stew. You have to name the country where it originated. Answers at the bottom — but don’t cheat!
4 Tom Yum
Roasted Sweet Potato and Shallot Soup
Cozy up with a cup or bowl of this tasty soup for lunch, snack, appetizer, or even for breakfast. It is a healthy twist to the classic potato soup, yet more colorful and vitamin-packed. The yogurt topping could be more or less depending on whether it is a meal or a snack, adding a dose or full serving of protein.
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
2 small shallots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 tablespoons of pre-minced)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, in spritz bottle if possible
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups vegetable broth, low sodium, divided
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place nonstick foil on a roasting tray and spritz with olive oil. Place prepared sweet potatoes, shallots, and garlic on the tray. Spritz generously with olive oil (or use about 1 tablespoon). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Mix well. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 30–35 minutes, stirring every 5–8 minutes (be sure to keep an eye on the shallots, so they do not burn). Remove from oven and cool slightly.
Place 2 cups of vegetable broth in a blender. Carefully add sweet potato mixture and blend for 1–2 minutes, adding more broth until a smooth, soupy texture. If your blender has the warming option, go for it! If not, place in a soup pot with a lid, bring to a boil, lower and keep warm until serving. Makes 4 1-cup or 8 1/2-cup servings. Top with 1–2 tablespoons of yogurt, or 1/4 cup if consumed as your meal. Garnish with fresh herbs. *This soup contains approximately 500 mg sodium per cup; 250 mg sodium per half-cup.
Creamy Asian Noodle Soup
Soups at times are so filling, there is no room left for the meal. This recipe makes the soup the meal, so there is no issue 😃. The chicken or tofu, noodles, and delightful Asian spices make the soup quite satisfying, and a tasty winter warm-up to the body and soul. A low-sodium broth adds enough sodium, so taste first to see if you desire more. I highly recommend Thai coconut broth, but vegetable broth works as well.
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange — any color combo), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (13.5-ounce) cans light coconut milk
4–5 cups vegetable broth, low sodium (*or Thai coconut broth)
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken or 2 cups cubed tofu
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus for garnish
1 8-ounce packages rice stick noodles
Optional toppings: fresh lime wedges, crushed peanuts, siracha
Place a large soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and warm for 1–2 minutes. Add onion and bell peppers and cook until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add curry powder and cayenne and stir until well combined. Add coconut milk and broth and bring to a boil. Add rice stick noodles and continue to boil for 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add shredded chicken or tofu and cilantro, and cook until warm. Continue to add broth until a soupy, desired consistency. Garnish with cilantro and serve with optional toppings. *This soup contains less than 600 mg sodium per cup; less than 300 mg sodium per half-cup.
🎉New Year 🎉— A great time to hit the refocus button. Pick one thing to start to do different next year, and embrace your healthy energy🌈. Here are some ideas, but you do you!
Plan my meals 🍽
- Plan out my daily meals and snacks in the morning to avoid grazing all day long.
- Prepare several healthy meals on Sunday so I am prepared for the week.
- Use recipes that are freezer-friendly, making bigger batches and freezing half for an easy meal later week.
- Buy produce with a longer shelf life like apples, oranges, broccoli, carrots, and kale. Any produce that looks like it may go bad soon, add to a soup or smoothie, or freeze for later.
- I will take a walk on my lunch break or schedule several moving breaks throughout the day. And/or, walk whenever I am on the phone, inside or outside.
- Schedule daily workouts, and appointments for you, with you, just like a doctor’s appointment.
- Stand more — I will stand during meetings and/or commercial breaks while watching TV.
- I will stretch for 5 minutes when I first wake up or before bed 5–6 nights per week.
- I will meditate for 3–5 minutes when I first wake up each day.
- I will take part in activities that bring me joy — yoga, walking with a friend, and cooking a balanced meal with my family or roommate, at least 4 times per week.
- I will play music during the day.
- I will write down one thing I am grateful for each day.
I am grateful for a new year, a new beginning, and a fresh start. I am grateful for the sunrise and sunset each day. I am grateful for my family, my friends, the love, the laughter, and the joy in my life.~Amy Margulies, The Rebellious RD
ANSWERS to soup quiz: 1. Borscht = Ukraine, 2. Miso = Japan, 3. Bouillabaisse = France, 4. Tom Yum = Thailand, 5. Goulash = Hungary, 6. Gumbo = United States, 7. Phở = Vietnam, 8. Gazpacho = Spain
For comments, thoughts, requests, or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cassady BA, Considine RV, Mattes RD . Beverage consumption, appetite, and energy intake: what did you expect? Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 95: 587–593