Guest Blogger Amy Snider, PHEc.
I often crave soup during the chilly winter months. Luckily, eating soup more often can combat another winter reality — the weight gain that often is the result of being cooped up indoors. Most soups (except for those prepared with full-fat cream or loads of cheese) provide a satisfying meal with minimal calories and fat. No wonder the cabbage soup diet is still on many people’s radar!
Here are a several reasons why soups are a great part of a winter diet:
1. Broths are generally fat-free; even when loaded up with vegetables and lean meats, they provide a low-calorie and nutritious meal.
2. A hot piping bowl of soup has to be eaten slowly, by the spoonful, making you feel more satisfied and less likely to over-indulge.
3. Soups are economical and convenient. I always keep some ready-to-heat (preferably lower sodium and vegetable-rich) canned soups in my pantry to pack for lunch or for an easy supper. Just a few minutes in the microwave and they’re ready to slurp.
Soup is easy to make, too. It’s a great way to use leftovers and the flavour combinations are endless. Here’s one of my favourite soups, a thick, nourishing and fibre-rich bean soup adapted from my cookbook Fiber Boost, Everyday Cooking for a Long, Healthy Life (Key Porter, 2004).
Bistro White Bean Soup
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
4 oz (125 g) bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cans (540 mL each) white kidney beans (or navy beans), drained and rinsed
4 cups (1 L) chicken broth
4 cups (1 L) baby spinach
Croutons and Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan set over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned and slightly crisp. Stir in onion, carrots, garlic thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until tender and golden. Add the beans and chicken broth, bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to crush some of the beans to thicken the soup. Stir in the spinach and cook just until wilted. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with croutons and shaved Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.