Soup can be an excellent food for dieters, as eating a soup course like leek soup before your evening meal can help you to lose weight.
Several studies, including one conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, show that eating soup before a meal reduces hunger and pares down consumption of calorie-rich main courses. Soup eaters studied were less hungry afterward than those who didn’t eat soup. Over time, the soup eaters lost more weight than the non-soup-eating control group, plus they kept the weight off longer.
There’s a good reason, then, to add soup to your diet. And, contrary to what you might expect, preparation time is no barrier if you have a slow cooker, a microwave oven, or if you can muster up some fast energy when you come home from work at night.
Making soup in a slow cooker adds only 20 minutes to your day’s work—just 10 minutes in the morning before you go to work and another 10 minutes before supper to puree the soup in a blender or food processor. (Pureeing is optional, but it gives the soup a pleasing texture and taste.) Plus, once you get the hang of your slow cooker, you can try out these great recipes.
Making soup in a microwave oven takes 10 to 12 minutes. But even if you have nothing fancier than a saucepan, cooking soup won’t take more than a half hour. You can start before you turn on the news, and it’ll be ready by the time the anchor signs off.
There are many excellent soup recipes around, but most are more complex and time-consuming than they need to be. The recipe below, however, has been boiled down but can also easily be expanded or reduced.
Leek Soup for Two
This recipe was developed for first-course vegetable soups. A pureed potato is an excellent substitute for cream, and it keeps calories low (about 50 per serving) and nutrition and fiber content high. To create different soups, just substitute another vegetable from the list below for the leek. For the very best flavor and nutrition, use 2 cups of your own homemade stock instead of the water and bouillon cube.
- 1 leek (use everything except the dark green outer leaves)
- 2 cups water
- 1 bouillon cube, vegetable or chicken
- 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
- 1 small onion, peeled and diced
Cut the leek into 1-inch sections and cut each section lengthwise so that you can find any sand and wash it away. Put all ingredients into a slow cooker set on low, cover, and let it do its work. When you come home from work, puree the soup, or not, as you wish.
In microwave: Put all ingredients in an 8-cup glass measure. Cover tightly with microwave plastic wrap and cook at 100 percent for 12 minutes.
In saucepan: Combine all ingredients, cover, bring to a boil, uncover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
For cream soup: Use only ½ cup of liquid per person. After pureeing, add ½ cup per person low- or nonfat milk; or, for a thicker soup, nonfat plain yogurt. Do not boil when reheating. (Nonfat milk adds 45 calories, while yogurt adds 55 calories.)
Now, to build on that basic soup for two, substitute for the leek:
Beet: 1 small beet, peeled and either diced or shredded. Puree the soup and serve cold with yogurt. If you shred the beet, you don’t need to puree the soup after cooking.
Broccoli: 1 to 2 stalks broccoli, about what you’d serve to one person. Reserve some florets for garnish. This is an excellent way to use up leftovers.
Cabbage: ¼ medium cabbage, sliced into strips.
Carrot: 1 medium carrot plus ¼ teaspoon cumin or curry powder per 1 cup liquid. Pretty and tasty garnished with pumpkin seeds.
Celery: 2 stalks celery, chopped. The inner stalks with leaves taste best and give a nice green color.
Garlic: 10 cloves garlic, peeled. This sounds like a lot, but garlic becomes sweet and mild with prolonged cooking. (This variation will taste best when cooked in a slow cooker.) Add 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese and toasted croutons just before serving.
Turnip: 1 medium turnip. Add a dash of nutmeg to each bowl before serving.
Watercress: 1 bunch watercress, washed carefully to remove sand. Reserve some of the leaves for garnish.
Zucchini: 1 small zucchini, chopped. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.
Lentils are another common low-fat soup ingredient that could help you out if these variations aren’t enough.
Looking to boost the health content of your soup even more? Try out these tips!