I think it’s a happy coincidence that January is not only national soup month, but also the peak of people’s efforts to lose weight. Research shows that soups can help you lose weight: in one study, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, people consumed the fewest calories on days when they ate soup rather than the same ingredients in solid form. Soup has a high water content, which can help you feel full. Broth-based soups packed with veggies give you the biggest bang for your caloric buck. And, just like salad, soup is a good vehicle for vegetables (the fiber in vegetables also promotes feelings of fullness for few calories). And in a study published in Appetite, people who started lunch with vegetable soup ended up eating 20 percent less than those who skipped the soup.
In the January/February issue of EatingWell Magazine, Joyce Hendley, co-author of the James Beard Award-winning cookbook The EatingWell Diet, wrote about a recipe she developed for the ultimate weight-loss soup, a skinny, super-satisfying vegetable minestrone soup inspired by a favorite Weight Watchers recipe: “I’ll never forget the moment in a Weight Watchers meeting when the conversation turned to ‘The Soup.’ Everyone in the room, it seemed, owed their success to the Garden Vegetable Soup recipe in the program booklet. Words like ‘easy,’ ‘yummy’ and ‘filling’ kept coming up, and the best ones of all: ‘virtually calorie-free.’ I practically sprinted home to make it that night.
“The soup was simplicity itself: carrots, onions, cabbage, tomato and spinach simmered with seasonings in broth. It tasted fantastic. And it worked: I ate the soup for lunch most days (and for dinner some busy nights) and lost 15 pounds in a few months without feeling deprived.”
Joyce’s version of “The Soup,” which she calls Veggistrone (pictured above), comes in at just 169 calories for a big 2-cup serving that’s packed with at least two servings of vegetables in every bowlful. The recipe makes a big pot of soup, so keep some in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and freeze the rest of the vegetable minestrone soup in single-serve portions. That way you always have an easy, delicious vegetable soup to start your meal or to eat for lunch. Think of this vegetable minestrone recipe as a starting point for other healthy soup variations, too: toss in leftover chopped cooked chicken or whole-wheat pasta or brown rice to make it even more satisfying. Top it with a generous spoonful of Parmesan cheese, bringing the Italian flavor to the forefront and keeping any feelings of diet deprivation at bay.
Get the Recipe: Veggistrone
What’s your favorite soup to eat when you’re trying to lose weight? Tell us what you think below.