Soup: The new wonder meal

With the weather cooling down(hopefully) and the Winter upon us how can we keep ourselves satiated on our way home from work or at home without too much fuss.

Soup, Soup, Soup. I am a big fan of soup. Maybe because of my European blood, but also as I love the idea of having a meal in a cup or bowl which I can digest quickly and easily.

Soup is a great nutritious meal option with certain types of soup even proven to help support weight loss, advises nutritionist Susie Burrell.

A s I said as we get into winter season and the temperature has dropped, the days are shorter and suddenly salad doesn’t seem like such an appealing  option, It’s time to bring on some soup! It may surprise you to hear that not only are soups a great option nutritionally, but certain types of soup have also been proven to help support weight loss.

In particular, vegetable-based soups are a great option nutritionally as they combine a high nutrient density with a low energy density – this means that we get lots of key nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories. At a time where foods with a high-energy density and low-nutrient density such as white bread, snack foods, sugar-based drinks and high-fat fast foods dominate our intake, a low-calorie option that fills us up is a much better option for optimal health.

Studies have repeatedly shown that when diners consume a low-calorie vegetable-based soup before their main meal, they consume up to 20% less calories at a meal. The reason is simple. Basically the bulk of the soup helps to fill us up so we eat less. Nutritionally this is also beneficial as the nutrients found in vegetables including many water soluble vitamins such as vitamin B, C, K as well as dietary fibre and a range of minerals, also helps to regulate the digestive tract and ensure that we get the number of key nutrients we need each and every day.

In addition to this, eating soup has an extra benefit from a weight and fluid retention perspective; soups that have a base of leeks, onions and celery are also particularly high in the mineral potassium. As potassium helps to bind excess sodium, it helps to rid the body of excess fluid. As many of us carry fluid and regularly feel bloated thanks to a high-salt diet and a lack of activity, dropping as little as 500g of body weight after a few vegetable soups, even if it is just fluid can make us feel lighter and leaner instantly.

Soup can be a simple meal addition – a way to ensure that the family gets all of their vegetables and nutrition; a filling afternoon snack or an entire lunch or light evening meal, especially when beans, potato or sweet potato are the base providing heavier carbs as well as chicken, lean sausage or some mincemeat for protein. It is important to remember that rice, noodles, legumes and pasta do add considerable carbohydrates and calories to your soup and are likely to negate any weight loss benefits. On the other hand, broth-style, vegetable-based soups have virtually no calories and can be consumed relatively freely (but of course you do need to count any bread).

While bulking meals up with low calorie options such as vegetable soup on a regular basis is a great way to load up on nutrition in general, for those wanting to drop a couple of kilos quickly, replacing the evening meal with a vegetable based soup is a safe way to do it. The low energy content helps to keep your total calorie intake low, while the bulk prevents you from feeling hungry and deprived the way you would if you were eating very little on a regular diet, or using meal replacement shakes.

A study out of the Netherlands found that toddlers who were given veggie- and herb-packed soups for seven weeks showed an improved tolerance for vegetables of all kinds when compared with toddlers who didn’t eat soup. Take that, youngsters.

For those wanting a more intense regime, a vegetable soup can replace two meals a day for five to seven days without any negative side effects. Although much of the weight loss will be fluid, sometimes all we need to feel leaner and healthier is a flatter stomach and a kilo or two less on the scales.

Naturally, homemade soups are the best option. This way you can control the type and amounts of vegetables that you use to make your soup as well as choosing to use salt-reduced stocks and few other additives. Pre-made soups and packet soup mixes tend to be exceptionally high in sodium (salt) with the average packet soup containing a massive 800-1200mg of sodium or a third to half of your total daily sodium limit. Pre-made soups also tend to be relatively low in protein and high in carbohydrate thanks to their base being potato starch. If you must seek out a pre-made soup option, look for varieties that contain <20g total carbohydrates per serve and <800mg of sodium.

The high water content of soup means it can satisfy your appetite in a healthy and hydrating way. According to a study cited on BBC News, people who are well hydrated with soups are more satisfied with their meals and less likely to consume unnecessary calories when they eat.

Soup is affordable to make.

Making soup won’t require a lot of money. Go the grocery or market; buy some vegetables and fruits, broth or water, and you can easily make a batch enough to feed the entire family. For a small cost, you can make a lot of people feel full and healthy.

Soup is good for the health.

Perhaps the easiest way to add vegetables to your daily meals is to make and eat soup. You can make several bowls of soup filled with fruits and veggies each day and you’ll be filled. Eating vegetables is part of a healthy diet so veggie soups are highly recommended.

You can also add some meats(chicken,lamb, beef or pork to add some substance and filling) which can then become a really hearty meal.

Here are some more points which are not nutritionally based but are good reasons to “get some soup into you”

Simple to freeze and reheat

As if you’re not yet convinced, soups transition well from the stove to the freezer and then to the microwave. Make a giant pot of soup one evening, and you can turn it into a tasty lunch for days to come.

Its aroma fills your home

Is there anything better than the aroma of savoury herbs and veggies filling your home in winter? Nope.

You can have soup all year round

I know most of us have soup in the colder months of the year, but it is very possible to also have cold soups which will fill you up and keep you cool in the warmer months.

Fruit and vegetable soups are possible such as cherry or beetroot soup(hot or cold)

Easily Portable

This is one point which I cannot stress enough. Instead of purchasing an item that is calorie laden and which you will regret eating an hour after consumption, Buying  a hearty and nutritional soup will fill you up and keep you going.

What’s more it can be done in the size of a large takeaway coffee cup.  Too easy!!