Time to Soup Up That Diet

Hot soups make for one of the healthiest comfort foods around.

Carrot-lentil soup. Photo via Hemera.

The chill of a New England winter calls for a warm blanket on the shoulders and a steaming bowl of soup in the hand, which makes it especially fitting that January is also known as National Soup Month. Fortunately for us, it’s also one of the few times where comfort food turns out to be great for your diet — at least according to a recent study that came out in Appetite, which found that people who ate a bowl of soup prior to lunch (regardless of whether it was brothy or thick) consumed 20 percent fewer calories than those who didn’t.

This is great news for someone looking for a quick, easy way to cut calories, but there’s one big caveat: the soups provided to the study participants were between 130 and 170 calories per serving, which is significantly fewer than some servings of cream-based soups. In other words, if you want to save calories in a meal by eating soup beforehand, stick to the lower-calorie broth-based versions.

If you’re daunted by the idea of prepping, toting, and heating up your lunch, here are some times to soup up your daily life:

1. Batch Preparation: Try making a large pot of your favorite soup on a Sunday afternoon to take for lunch during the week. You can also separate the soup into daily portions for a morning time-saver. And if you find yourself tired of eating the same soup each day, freeze it in individual portions to enjoy another week. I pour my soup into small, freezer-safe bags so I can thaw it one-serving at a time.

2. Try a Thermos: No access to a microwave on your lunch break? Buy a thermos. Insulated Klean Kanteen are amazing little thermoses that come in multiple sizes and are guaranteed to keep your soup hot for up to six hours. There are many other types of thermoses out there to keep your soup steaming hot until lunch, so find your favorite, and use it often.

3. Just Order It: If packing your own soup isn’t in the cards, consider purchasing a bowl while out to eat. Remember to choose a low-energy dense, broth-based soup. Stay away from bisques and cream-based soups, which will usually pack on the extra calories.

There are plenty of soup recipes out there to try. Check out these 101 Healthy Soup Recipes from Cooking Light for some satisfying soups to get you through the winter.