Chill out Your Appetite With Soups and Stews

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What’s not to like about soup? It can be convenient (just open a can), it can be comforting (it’s hot, savory food on a cold day), and it can even help you eat fewer total calories in a meal. Pretty powerful stuff!

(And that’s not to mention that soup is a great way to sneak in a few of those high-nutrient/high-fiber food groups we know we need more of — whole grains, veggies, and beans.)

Studies have shown that eating broth- or vegetable-based soups (either hot or cold) as the first course of a meal decreases the amount of total calories consumed at that meal. The key is to stick to lower-calorie, higher-fiber soups like vegetable bean or minestrone. Creamy or other high-fat soups need not apply for this job! A cup of broth- or tomato-based soup only has around 75 to 125 calories (depending on the recipe and type of soup).

We’ve just established what Campbell’s has been saying for years — “soup is good food.” But can soup be not so good at times? You betcha. The way I see it, you have two main choices when it comes to soup: You can choose homemade vs. canned soup; and you can choose creamy soup vs. broth- or tomato-based soup. When you go the homemade route, you can make your soup even more super by choosing high-nutrient and lower-fat and -calorie ingredients. If you’re cruising the canned soup aisle, you can look for soups that are lower in sodium, fat, and brain.

Chunky soups tend to be more satisfying over the long term than strained soup. This is probably because the stomach needs more time to break down the pieces of solid food in chunky soups. Soup with high-fiber whole grains, beans, vegetables, and/or lean meat, will generally leave the stomach slowly.

3. Eating more soup helps you keep weight off.

Overweight men and women who were told to lose weight by eating soup every day preferred this method to being told to reduce calories, according to research from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The group who ate soup daily better maintained their weight loss over the following year, too. “It helps people eat less,” explains Baylor researcher John Foreyt.

4. If you’re sensitive to MSG (monosodium glutamate), you can find brands that tend not to use it.

The following soup brands do not list MSG on their labels (Keep in mind that companies are constantly reformulating their products, so make sure to read labels before you buy):

Instant soups:

  • Nile Spice Soup Cups
  • Spice Hunter Soup Cups

Canned soups:

  • Andersen’s Soups
  • Campbell’s Healthy Request soups
  • Dominique’s Soups
  • Healthy Choice Soups
  • Swanson broth
  • Natural Goodness 33% Less sodium
  • 100% Fat-Free Chicken Broth
  • Certified Organic Chicken Broth
  • Certified Organic Vegetable Broth
  • Wolfgang Puck’s Hearty Soups

5. Spices and herbs can beef up the flavor of reduced-sodium soups.

Try garlic, ginger, oregano, or parsley. You can sprinkle in one of the Mrs. Dash’s salt-free seasoning blends, too.

6. You can keep it healthy by keeping track of the fiber, sodium, and fat.

Look for canned soups and soup recipes that have at least 3 grams of fiber per cup, but not more than 600-800 mg of sodium.

Make sure the grams of total fat and kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
8 ounces canned tomato sauce
2 cups water
2 14.5-ounce cans peeled and diced tomatoes
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles (buy mild, if you prefer)
1 ounce packet taco seasoning mix
1 cup shredded, reduced-fat cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

  • In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef or turkey over medium heat until browned. Drain, and set aside.
  • Place the ground meat, onion, chili beans, cholesterol, 8.5 g fiber, 239 mg sodium (if lower sodium canned beans are used). Calories from fat: 20%.