There’s a lot of hoopla and controversy around cleanses. One of the more popular and well known cleanse diets is juicing.
Juicing is still very popular, but many people complain that it’s just too hard to stick to only drinking juice, and that they’re constantly hungry.
Because juice isn’t food. It’s Juice. You’re going to be hungry.
Some of the downfalls of juicing, according to critics, is that it provides deficiencies in key nutrients. Actually, many detox critics say that detox diets in general are bunk. And guess what, I agree. I like food, do you like food? Good – let’s talk about food instead.
Now, hear me out – how is this different from juicing, you may ask. Well, we’re not talking about Campbell’s tomato soup here. We’re talking about real, substantive soup, with quality ingredients. Soups filled with good-for-you stuff – not that liquid ketchup from concentrate nonsense. Let’s figure out some benefits here and get onto some good ideas for recipes, shall we?
Right off the bat, one of the biggest benefits here is that soup tastes awesome. Aside from that, there are number of benefits to souping that not only make your life easier, but are actually healthy. Especially when compared to juicing. I know I’m bagging on juicing a bit, and I think it’s fine so long as you supplement juicing with other foods to balance your diet…but alone? Meh. Seems dangerous.
Souping is Convenient
The convenience of souping can’t be understated. There’s a reason that Stephen Colbert said it is “America’s hottest liquid food trend. Right now there is nothing 18-to-34-year-old upper middle income kids love more than soup.” Seriously though, Food Business News is calling this a “meal du jour.” And they’re right.
Stuck in traffic and hungry? Do you think you can hunker down in your front seat and chow down on a salad? I mean you could – but that’s definitely more accident prone than sipping soup out of a thermos. Throughout the busy work day, all you need is a microwave, and you’re golden.
Souping Is High Fiber
Great, so it’s convenient. That’s really nice, especially with our busy twenty first century lives, but how is it healthy? Well, number one? Fiber. I’ve already beat fiber into the ground by talking about high fiber foods, and have mentioned even more high fiber foods that will reduce your risk of heart disease. But it can’t be spoken about enough. In this generation, we, as a species, are terrible with our fiber intake.
According to the UCSF Medical center, the average Joe or Jane should be getting around 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. But, at best, we get half of that.
One of the key differences with soup, is that if you add some high fiber vegetables like corn, beans, or lentils, you won’t sacrifice flavor. Also, have you eaten a handful of lentils? It’s not that amazing. But in soup? Fantastic.
Now, with juicing, all you get is the puree, at best. A lot of the fiber has been taken out. Not with soup. Rejoice its fiber rich glory.
Souping Is an Easy Way for More Vegetables
A key concern of many people seeking better nutrition and a more balanced diet is getting more vegetables. Outside of the usual salad here and there, it may not be that easy for people to get a good amount of vegetables throughout the day. Luckily, many soups are packed full of vegetables, and incidentally, the nutritional benefits that come with them.
You can throw any number of vegetables into a good broth, including, but not limited to: beets, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, peas, celery, cabbage, and zucchini. The taste and consistency of these vegetables changes as the vegetables cook and soak up the flavors of the broth. If you don’t like the way certain vegetables taste, or don’t like their texture, adding them to a soup is a great way to fit them into your diet.
Souping Provides Various Healthy Spices
We don’t talk a lot about the benefits of spices – but herbs and spices have many health benefits including being antioxidants and fighting disease. One great thing about soups is that you can add a variety of spices to not only enhance the flavor, but improve nutritional value as well. Give your soups a boost with some of the following spices:
- Cayenne Pepper – Cayenne Pepper is a great way to give your soup, or any food, that awesome kick. But Cayenne Pepper has a lot of benefits, including alleviating cramps, lowering cholesterol, and remedying headaches. Cayenne pepper is also high in key nutrients including Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin E.
- Cardamom – Cardamom has a unique, aromatic flavor. You’ll have to try it to see if you like it. Cardamom’s health benefits including being able to counter cancer, improving heart health, and fighting depression.
- Cumin – Cumin has a nutty, earthy flavor, and is commonly used with chicken, lamb, and lentils. The health benefits of Cumin include improving brain performance, helping stress, and preventing diabetes.
- Basil – Basil, the aromatic foundation of pesto, is great in many types of soups including Vietnamese Pho and Italian Soups. Basil has been shown to be anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and good for the heart.
- Oregano – Love Oregano – another aromatic herb, good in many soups, and of course other foods like pasta and sandwiches. Oregano helps prevent diseases, contains many anti-oxidants, and is high in dietary fiber.
- Paprika – Paprika is ground pepper – so it can give a little bit of a punch. Paprika is high in Vitamin A and Carotenoids, which aid in optimal eye health. Some other health benefits of Paprika is that it is also a good source of Vitamin E and Iron.
- Ginger – Ginger, as you probably know, has somewhat of a spicy flavor, and somewhat of a sweet flavor. But you can add it to a lot of soups, especially Asian-style soups. Well, that’s what I use it for mostly anyway. It goes very well with lemon or vinegar flavorings. Ginger has numerous benefits including alleviating cramps and headaches, as well as aiding digestion and boosting the immune system.
Souping Results in Weight Loss
Souping generally results in a caloric deficit, meaning you’re likely to take in less calories when you eat a lot of soup compared to other food.
It’s pretty straight forward because for the volume of soup you eat, there is going to be less calories than compared to other foods.
Further, the quality of the food you put into soup, e.g.: vegetables and lean meats, are going to be better than a lot of the run-of-the-mill processed foods most people eat daily.
Easy Soup Recipes
I know I’ve been saying that making soup is really easy – but maybe some of you have never tried it. It’s so easy, it’s ridiculous. All you need is a large pot, and you’re golden. Let’s go over just a few good recipes, and then I’ll let your creativity takes over.
Like I mentioned before, I’m not a fan of lentils most of the time, but lentil soup is pretty good. Lentils have a heavier texture in soup than your run-of-the-mill watery soups, but have a lot of health benefits on their own. This recipe is inspired by Chowhound, but I’ve simplified it to my liking.
- Diced Celery (1 Stalk)
- 1 Diced Carrot
- 1 Diced Onion
- Minced Garlic
- 1 Diced Tomato
- 1 Cup of Lentils
- A pinch of salt, pepper, cumin, and basil
- 3-4 Cups of Vegetable Broth
Chowhound says to cook the vegetables first, but personally, I like to stew things. It’s really up to you, there’s no wrong way. It will save time to cook the vegetables first, but putting everything into a pot on medium heat and leaving it alone isn’t very much work either.
Vegetable Beef Soup
This one is pretty classic. And another easy peasy flexible recipe that you can tweak to your liking.
- ½ lb of Ground Beef (Or any lean meat you’d like)
- A Chopped Onion
- Minced Garlic
- 1 or 2 Diced Tomatoes
- 3-4 Cups of Broth that matches the meat you chose, or just vegetable broth
- A quarter of a head of cabbage, chopped
- A diced Carrot
- A diced Celery Stalk
- A handful of chopped mushrooms
- A diced Zucchini
- A Pinch of Basil, Oregano, Salt, and Pepper
First, brown the meat in a pan. Then throw everything into a pot and bring it to a boil. Then take the heat down to low/medium. Stir it every once in a while, and cook it for about half an hour. Then bring the heat even lower. The taste will change as it sits there on low heat and the vegetables absorb the taste of the broth and other vegetables. Yum yum.
Mushroom Barley Soup
I found this one on Real Simple, and I haven’t tried it. But it just sounded so good that I felt like I had to share it. It’s mushroom barley soup. I really like mushrooms…and barley, so this one has to be a winner.
- Olive Oil
- A pound of Mushrooms
- 3-4 Cups of chopped (or diced) carrots
- 2 cloves of garlic (chopped or minced)
- 4-6 Cups of Vegetable Broth
- About 1 Cup of Barley
- They say thyme and parley, I say Basil and Oregano
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Rice or Apple Cider Vinegar (1-2 tea spoons)
Cook the vegetables in a pan for about 10 minutes and add the spices.
Then transfer everything into a large pot with the broth and simmer for about half an hour. You’ll notice I added vinegar, and that’s because I feel like mushrooms go well with that sweet and sour flavor, similar to Tom Yum Soup, which is a lemon grass based Thai Soup.
It could also be really good with some Cayenne pepper to boot. Be creative, it’s hard to mess up soup. You can always adjust the flavorings with spices, or decrease the flavoring by adding more broth. The kitchen is your oyster!
We’ve gone over the benefits of souping, which include convenience, ease of getting additional fiber into your diet, and the benefits of having a higher amount of vegetables and spices in your diet.
Further, the nature of souping lends to weight loss, if that is a key goal of yours.
You’ll notice that I didn’t approach this as a “detox” diet or anything like that. I’m more concerned about the health benefits of eating good, nutritious food. And hopefully you are too.
I know I didn’t throw too many recipes out there, but the ones mentioned are simply to spur your creativity. Let me know if you are a big soup fan, and if you have any great recipes for me. I’d love to hear!