1. They’ll fill you up, not out You won’t need to skip that starter if you choose soup. A study by Pennsylvania State University found that people who ate soups before a meal felt fuller for longer and ate less of the main meal. Participants reduced their total calorie intake by 20 percent compared with those who did not eat the soup. “Research has shown the liquid intake of soup can help with weight loss as the greater volume helps to induce feelings of satiety,” affirms registered nutritionist Dr Lisa Gatenby. (Healthwiseonline.co.uk).
Try: A refreshing cucumber soup.
Soften 4 chopped spring onions, and add 1 chopped cucumber, 1 chopped little gem lettuce and a handful of peas. Pour over 2litres boiled wate, add 1 crumbled vegetable stock cube and simmer for 15 minutes until the veg is soft. Blitz.
2. You’ll have less sugar spikes Protein is a dieter’s best friend thanks to the way it slows down digestion and keeps blood sugars balanced so you have fewer cravings. “Consider buying a shop-bought ‘soup mix’ as these contain lentils, dried peas and beans that help make a satisfying soup, which will keep you fuller for longer,” adds Lisa.
Try: Lisa’s lentil, sweet potato and butternut squash soup.
Rinse off a 200g soup mix and place in a large pan. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 cube veg stock and 1ltr water and cook for 20 minutes. Add 200g butternut squash and 150g sweet potato and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add 1 can chopped tomatoes and simmer again until the vegetables and lentils soften. Serve with fresh parsley.
3. They’re quick and easy Cook your veg, add some stock and blend – voila! Soups are among the easiest meals to make and can be whipped up for a healthy meal when hunger strikes. “Making your own soups means you have 100 percent control on what goes in, both in terms of content and calories,” says nutritional therapist Severine Menem (severinemenem.com).“Pasteurised soups tend to have lost their vitamins during the pasteurisation process, and canned foods as a whole contain more bisphenol (BPA), which leeches into the soup from the plastic lining. This is more true, the more acidic the soup is (e.g such as tomato).”
Try: Severine’s super-quick cauliflower soup.
Heat 1tbsp coconut oil in a pan and sauté 1 large chopped onion until soft. Add the florets of 1 large cauliflower, 1tsp turmeric, 1½tsp ground coriander and ½tsp ground cumin and stir. Add 1litre chicken or veg stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender, and blend.
4. You can pack the veg in While a plate full of cauliflower might not get the pulse racing, a warm and creamy cauli soup just might. Soups are a great to make large quantities of fresh ingredients more palatable. “All vegetables are good for soups, but ones high in starches (such as sweet potato and butternut squash) will enhance the sweet flavour and consistency, and ones high in fibre (like broccoli and cauliflower) will be more helpful for weight loss,” says Severine. “Try to use vegetables in season, because they’ll be the ones with the highest vitamin content too.”
Try: Severine’s fibre-rich broccoli and puy lentil soup.
Add 1litre of bone broth, 1 chopped onion and 120g Puy lentils to a large pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes and add 1 large head of broccoli, washed and cut into florets, and simmer for another 10 minutes until the broccoli is tender. Blend.
5. They’re low energy and low cal Not all soups are created equally. Avoid shop bought soups with ladles of cream or butter and aim for low-energy dense soups. “These soups – which tend to have more water and veg – pack less calories per gram, meaning you can feel fuller but consume less calories per portion,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Dr Katerina Vasilaki (themediterraneandietitian.com). “A recent study using an energy-restricted diet showed consuming two servings of low energy-dense soup daily led to 50 percent greater weight loss than consuming the same amount of energy as high energy-dense snack.”
Try: Katerina’s Mediterranean chickpea soup.
“Soak 600g chickpeas overnight. Drain and add 1tsp baking soda and mix well (this helps soften the skins and rehydrate). Leave for a few minutes. Add the chickpeas to a pan of cold water and bring to the boil, and add 3 large chopped onions. Remove any scum that forms and lower the heat. Cover and cook for at least 1 hour, adding more boiling water if needed. In the last 10 minutes, add 2tbsp rosemary, 1tbsp salt and 1tbsp freshly ground black pepper and stir. Add 4tbsp olive oil and fresh lemon juice just before serving.
6. You can eat and drink at the same time! If you really want to curb those cravings, add more water to your soup. Studies have found that blending water into soups rather than drinking it separately helps suppress the hunger hormone grehlin, which is produced when the stomach is empty. Scientists found the water in soup remains in the stomach for much longer than a glass of water consumed after food.
Try: A quickie tomato consommé.
Add 3kg quartered tomatoes into a large pan and add 175ml white wine, 750ml tomato juice, 3 crushed garlic cloves and 1 chopped onion and simmer for 2 hours. Line a sieve with muslin cloth and pour the soup through. (You can blend the leftover veg into your other soups!)
Click here to try our 7-day soup meal plan