Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on August 08, 2019
Tastes Great, More Filling
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Soup is a good choice as an appetizer, or your main meal if you’re trying to lose weight. The water in broth-based soups stretches the flavor of meats, veggies, spices, and other tasty morsels without adding calories. It fills your tank faster and satisfies hunger longer than other heavier foods. Plus, it’s hard to gulp or guzzle soup if it’s hot. Eating slowly gives your body enough time to signal the brain that you’ve had enough.
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What’s left on the meat platter at the end of a meal may look like slim pickins. But chefs and home cooks alike prize skin and bones as soup fixings. They’re the main ingredients in rich broths. Boiling pulls collagen from these leftover bits. It’s an important protein that helps your own skin and bones.
The Lowdown on Slow Soup
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Want your soup ready when you get home at the end of the day? Try using a slow cooker. They’re great for soups made with meat. Slow-simmering soup boosts flavors, cuts prep time, and does the cooking while you’re away. It can trim your budget, too. The slow, low technique tenderizes tough, lean cuts, which cost less than prime. Always thaw meat before you put it in a slow cooker to be sure it cooks through.
Warm Up With Soup
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If your kids turn up their noses at vegetables, turn up the heat under a pot of soup. Little ones like sweets better than bitters because that’s how their taste buds are set. To them, veggies may be tastier mixed with other flavors in a soup than served a la carte. If a veggie’s texture is the problem, puree it to smooth perfection.
Can You Stand The Heat?
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Many veggies lose nutrients when you boil them, but a few get better when the heat is on. Canned tomatoes can be more healthy than vine-ripe because cooking breaks them down, releasing lycopene and chemicals that are good for your heart. Processed corn and spinach have more lutein, an antioxidant that protects your eyes. Have these quick-start items in your pantry for your own homemade soup.
Grandma Knows Best
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Scientists have proven what grandmas knew all along: Chicken soup is a feel-good food when you’re down with a cold. The steamy, salty broth opens stuffy sinuses and thins mucus so it drains. It warms and soothes sore throats and quiets coughs. The chicken, onions, garlic, and other stuff in it can help fight inflammation. But be careful. Too much salt can cause water retention and contribute to swelling.
The Magic of Miso
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Slurping your soup says “compliments to the chef” if you’re in Japan. Miso soup, a rich, cloudy broth made from fermented soybeans, is a favorite there. It’s high in salt, but it has a lot of healthy ingredients, too. It's full of good bacteria and chemicals that may help you digest your food, lower bad cholesterol, and cut the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. It’s even thought to help keep skin aglow with its rich antioxidant content.
Put the Pinch on Salt
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Some soup makers go heavy on the salt so you’ll savor the flavor. That’s a problem if you have high blood pressure or other reasons to cut back. Try low- or no-salt brands and recipes. You’ll miss the salt at first, but spoon your way through it. After just a few weeks, your taste buds will physically change to become more sensitive. Soon soup with half the salt will taste just as good.
Read the Label Before You Ladle
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Shopping for soup? It pays to be soup-savvy:
Do the math. A serving is one cup, but a can of soup holds more. Add up total calories and amounts before you fill your cart.
Read the label. “Sodium” means salt, and many soups have a lot. “Healthy” and “low-sodium” brands have less. Look for sugar, too. Choose soups with no more than 6 grams per serving. Fiber’s good. Lentil, vegetable, barley, and bean soups are full of it.
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Do you have a favorite soup? Many of us do. Here’s the top 10 list: chicken noodle (the overall favorite), potato, beef stew, chili with beef, broccoli, vegetable, seafood chowder, seafood bisque, tomato, and mushroom. Women warm up to potato and broccoli, while men are big on beef.