Not all soup is created equal. That’s like saying all chocolate is the same. I extol the merits of soup and its ability to help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, but I feel the need to define “soup”. To avoid confusion and – in the spirit of this blog – to keep a positive spin on things, we’ll call good, healthy, diet-friendly soup “sexy soup” to distinguish it from all the other “soups” out there that are worse for you than an Italian hoagie. (Note: Italian hoagies are awesome BUT I don’t recommend eating them several times a week if you want to lose weight…unless you bike the five miles to and from the hoagie shop.)
Sexy Soup IS:
Mostly vegetables and water,
Going to maintain a liquid state in the fridge and not congeal into some sort of glop,
Less than 150 calories per 1 cup serving,
Tastes so good your kids will eat it.
Cream of Broccoli Soup, for example, is not Sexy Soup. If you remove the water, it’s really a block of cheese with one stem of broccoli added for color. Have you ever seen it when it’s cold? It’s Jello. But if you love cheese Jello like I do, then try this trick: Cook a bunch of broccoli and mix it in, about half soup and half broccoli (and water if you need to thin it out a bit). It won’t be quite as thick as the original, but at least it won’t be misleading to keep the word “broccoli” in the title anymore, and you’ll have calcium oozing out of your pores.
Canned soup is convenient, but it’s not Sexy. Some of the soup companies have created healthy lines of soup: “100% Natural”, “Light”, “Heart Healthy” and so forth. Not a bad idea, and these soups are on track calorie-wise, but each ONE cup serving gives you about 700 mg of sodium. That’s 30% of the sodium you should consume in an entire day. If they have less sodium, they add more sugar, as much as 3 teaspoons in a ONE cup serving. I don’t add that much sugar to my coffee, and I like it sweet!
Let’s not forget the main reason we love soup: it’s a warm, comforting, delicious way to eat lots of vegetables. Most canned soups don’t give you a lot of veggies; you usually get what you see on the label’s picture…a whole three carrot slices per can.
How do you make Sexy Soup that’s satisfying and rich without adding loads of dairy, salt, or sugar? The trick is to make the water feel like not-water in your mouth.
Option one: when the soup is cooked, pour half of it into a blender and blend it, then return it to the pot. Your “broth” is creamy, but there’s something left to chew. Note: this is a great way to get veggies into kids; if they pick out the carrots they can see, they still slurp down the ones they can’t.
Option two: add purees. Don’t pitch your decorative pumpkins! Did you know that pumpkins were a vegetable before they were décor? You can eat them! Not after you carve them, light a candle in them, and leave them on the doorstep for a month, no, but even in November and December, an unopened pumpkin can be cooked and consumed. Bake or microwave it, scoop out the now soft insides (not the seeds), puree it in a blender, and freeze it in little ziploc baggies to add to soups. Purees of cauliflower, yellow summer squash, and carrot also work for Sexy Soup.
Option three: add potatoes or rice. Potatoes and rice tend to thicken a broth when simmered for a while. Just make sure most of the soup is made up of colorful plants.
Option four: cheese or milk. If you add dairy, follow the Rule of Thumb for your veggie:fat ratio. One thumb of fat/dairy per one hand of veggies. Choose a strong cheese that you can taste; if a mild flavored cheese blends in too well, you may as well leave it out.
Option five: blend all of the soup and pour it into a large plastic martini glass. Put on sunglasses, heels, and lip stick, then sit by a pool and sip it through a straw. Sexy is as sexy eats!
“Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.” Daniel 1:12