Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rainy Day Soup Review

Today is a cold, rainy, absolutely disgusting day. Rainy days don't exactly inspire people to get up and go to the gym. But, we can't let a little rain stop us on the way to achieving our goals. Though sitting on the couch all day watching TV seems like the best way to beat a rainy day, you will feel so much better after you get up and get your workout in.

One rainy day tradition that we can all enjoy is eating a bowl of delicious hot soup. Soup is one of my favorite meals in winter and can be a healthy way to fill up and stay warm when it's cold outside. But, not all soups are created equal. People often make the mistake of assuming soups are a healthy option, but in reality, many soups are full of fat, high in calories, and contain an obscene amount of sodium.

To avoid soups that aren't diet friendly, keep away from anything with the word "chowder" or "bisque." Cream based soups are also a quick way to pack in tons of fat and calories. So, no "cream of __FILL IN BLANK__. "

One challenge I face when finding a healthy soup is that most soups are made with a beef or chicken broth. I'm a vegetarian, so these don't really work for me. So, how did I find a soup that was vegetarian, low-in fat, calories and sodium? I tried lots and lots of options.

Canned Soups:
Progresso has a line of "0 point per serving" weight watchers soups. There is one vegetarian option. The Light "Italian-Style Vegetable" soup tastes pretty good, but is ridiculously high in sodium. In one can, there is 1640 mg of sodium. That is too much for me so I rarely eat Progresso. (Note: Out of the major players in the soup isle, Campbells, HealthyChoice etc., I do enjoy Progresso the most).

My favorite brand of canned soups is Health Valley. Usually, these soups are located in the health food section of your grocery store and are also available in stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods. I love these soups. They offer low-sodium options and a large variety of vegetarian options. My favorite is the "No-Salt Added Vegetable Barley." They also have delicious vegetarian chili options. For a full list of their soups, click here. If I had to pick a negative about these soups, I would say they are pricier than brands like Progresso.

Homemade Soups
Whenever possible, I make my own soup. There are so many benefits to making your own soup. If you make a big batch of soup on a Sunday night, you'll have lunch or dinner for the week. If you make your own soup, you can use low-sodium broth or even make your own broth. If you make your own soup, you can save money. And, if you make your own soup, you can customize and fill it with your favorite veggies and leave out what you don't like.

Sold yet? After you taste this recipe you will be!

Very Veggie Soup

Veggie Broth (you can customize and use chicken or beef broth)
Canned Tomatoes

Optional Add Ins:
Brown Rice
Whole Wheat Pasta

Chop carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic into chunks. On stove, heat up large saucepot. Spray bottom of pot with Pam Spray. When pot is hot, add chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic. Stir occasionally until vegetables become soft. While vegetables are cooking, chop and cabbage and tomatoes. After vegetables are soft, add broth to pot. (I like to use Trader Joe's Savory Vegetable Broth, which are packets added to water.)

After you add broth, put cabbage and tomatoes into the pot. Cover and cook on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you choose, add any of the optional items: brown rice, beans, chicken, or whole wheat pasta.

This soup is 0 WW points. However, if you choose to add any of the additional items, the points value will increase. TIP: Don't add extras to the whole batch of soup. Make extra and add each time you have a serving. That way, you can measure out how much you are eating and have a more accurate idea of how many points you are eating.

Feel free to customize this soup to your tastes and preferences. If you don't like cabbage, try using escarole.

Here are some other favorites you can make at home:

Tuscan Pumpkin White Bean Soup
(WW Recipe)

Broccoli Cheese Soup (WW Recipe)

Click here for three recipes for other 0 points soups

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