Soup for Thought: This Winter, Learn to Slurp Them Right!
Don’t just order any soup. Order ‘The soup’.
There was a reason our mothers fed us a warm, home-made thick cup of chicken soup during winter evenings when we were young. Winter time is soup time – nothing comforts more than a hot bowl of soup, when temperature dips. This was thus, their simple way of delivering warmth, loads of it. Now who doesn’t need some TLC when the weather starts to get nasty!
But there are a lot of other reasons for sipping soups regularly. It is easily the best way to incorporate a wide assortment of vegetables and fruits into our diet and score a multitude of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Soups are quick to think up and easy to assemble, their volume fills us up without a lot of calories, and they also help restore the necessary water balance in the diet. And my favourite reason is that while most cooking methods remove essential nutrients from the vegetables, soups actually retain most of them.
But choose wisely…
We have continued to believe that soups are virtuous – that message is thankfully hardwired in our memory, but we have over the years lost the art of making a good soup (at home) and now usually just do khana purty (for namesake) by ordering from a restaurant. ‘Oh I must have soup, so let me order one today…’ Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Well, the fact is that soups are good for us, but only as long as one knows how to pick the right one. That lunchtime soup-and-salad combo most of us tend to order on days when you are trying to ‘eat right’ may actually not be as virtuous as you think, and might be just as calorie, sodium and fat laden as that pizza you bypassed for it. That’s because most restaurant soups for the sake of making them sinful are prepared with heavy cream, lots of refined flour, and multiple sodium rich condiments and sauces.
One good indicator is that thicker the soups, more deceptively high in calories it might be. So the blanket rule to follow is to opt for a broth-based soup to cut loads of calories).
It helps to know which one to pick when you are eating out. For example in a Mexican restaurant, you can have a gazpacho or black bean and vegetable soup. At a Greek joint, try torato, which is a cold soup with eggplant, peppers, and yogurt. This has lots of fibre and nil cholesterol or go for the better-known avgolemono soup, which has a lemon and egg base and it’s also delightfully creamy yet healthy option (to make at home add egg and lemon to a stock such as chicken to create a creamy soup with a sharp tang of citrus).
At a Japanese restaurant all soups are broth based and usually healthy but If you're watching your sodium intake, pass on the "miso" (fermented soybean) soup. When eating Indian mulligatawny (chicken) or dal rasam (lentil) soups are the best options.
You can easily cook equally tasty foods with fresh ingredients at home. Try the Minestrone soup with a twist that is ridiculously low in calories (about 225 calories) and extremely filling. And of course more delicious than any restaurant soup.
(Kavita Devgan is a weight management consultant, nutritionist, health columnist and author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People.)
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