When I first heard of “souping,” it brought me back to my clinical days working in a hospital, where pureed soups and other easy to digest foods — also known as “full liquids” — would be prescribed for patients recovering from gastrointestinal surgery, or those who had difficulty chewing or swallowing.
Then I reflected upon how much I regularly enjoy soup, especially for the comfort it provides on cold, dreary days — even though, thankfull,y I have no health issues that would require such an easily digestible meal. Soup is often my go-to in the winter, especially varieties made with beans or skinless chicken, nutritious veggies, noodles and tasty broth. And I’ve always liked the fact that even though I feel full and satisfied after a bowl of broth, it’s not like the fullness I experience after eating a bowl of pasta.
Among nutritionists, I’m not alone in my feelings about this comforting, filling, yet not-so-high calorie food. “Soup can be a healthy and delicious way to create balance after a season of heavy meals or even a particularly indulgent weekend,” said Robin Foroutan, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It gives your digestive system a chance to reboot and de-bloat.”
Regularly eating soup might help you shed some unwanted pounds, too. Several studies have shown that when soup is eaten before a meal, it fills you up and helps you eat fewer calories for the entire meal. In one study, when people consumed soup for a snack instead of chips and pretzels, they lost 50% more weight — even though both the soup and snacks, as well as the total day’s diet, had the same amount of calories.
What’s the slimming secret of soup? Binding water into food slows down gastric emptying, keeping your stomach fuller for longer, according to Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University who has authored studies on soup and its effects on satiety, and wrote “The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.” Plus, she added, “the water in soup adds weight and volume so that you can have a satisfying amount without too many calories.”
The weight loss benefits of soup have led to soup cleansing — a trend that has become increasingly popular over the last few years. In fact, according to Pinterest, “souping” is one of the top 10 food trends for 2018.
And unlike juicing, which removes fiber from fruit, soup can help to stabilize blood sugar for more sustained energy, especially when it includes tons of fiber-rich veggies, protein and healthy fat, according to Foroutan.
“Soups still contains the whole food, so fiber is still intact, but it’s easier to digest because it’s cooked,” said Foroutan. Juice is high in phytonutrients and antioxidants, but if it’s made from all fruit, it can be very high in sugars (even though they’re natural sugars), and this can cause one’s blood sugar to spike and drop, which can lead to feeling more tired overall, she explained.
Don’t know how to get started? Companies such as Splendid Spoon, Soupure and Los Angeles-serving Soupelina take the guesswork away by offering consumers various soup-based meal plans which can be delivered directly to your doorstep.
For example, a single souping cleanse day on Splendid Spoon includes five soups, such as beet balsamic bisque, fennel consommé, cauliflower coconut, butternut turmeric and red lentil dal. After the cleanse, you continue the week-long plan with the company’s breakfasts and lunches for five days, which include smoothies and bowls. Dinner is your choice. Day 7 is a “wander day” to enjoy eating as you typically would.
The convenience factor of soup delivery is a big draw for those with busy schedules.