Lose holiday pounds with homemade soup and stews

June 27th, 2015 1:21 am

First Posted: 1/6/2013

Soup, something so simple, yet many people feel it's easier to buy it than make it.

The main ingredient in soup is broth, which is mostly water. Eating soup before our lunch or dinner may keep our hunger pains away and our urges to reach for snack foods within that first hour of eating.

If you have enjoyed a bit too much of munches and desserts this past holiday season, soup might be the answer to your weight loss prayers.

Soups are not all alike in the world of weight loss. Cream soups are at the top of the high-calorie list and should be enjoyed in small quantities. Cream of broccoli, cream of potato, New England clam chowder, crab bisque are all made with cream and a thickening agent that boosts the calories.

Other soups such as minestrone, chicken, turkey, and black bean fill us up, but with lower calorie ingredients.

Commercially-made soups may contain more sodium and calories than homemade soups. Be savvy when reading the label. Making soups at home can be low in cost and convenient if frozen in individual containers to be enjoyed at a later date.

The key to losing weight by adding soup to your diet is to first find a soup that contains lower calorie ingredients. Second, enjoy eating the soup without noodles and crackers and just before your main entree at lunch or dinner. You should find that you are less apt to have seconds at meals and are not looking for a high-calorie snack in an hour or so after eating.

Below are two soup recipes that can be made on the stove top in less than 20 minutes. The first is the popular Brunswick stew which is a bit thicker than a soup. Virginia and North Carolina both feel that the recipe originated in their state and varies with the type of meats added as ingredients.

Most also add a barbeque flavoring, although this recipe does not. Beans thicken this stew. If you want to hide the beans, puree them first before adding to the stew.

The second recipe uses prepared chicken. You can use either leftover chicken that you have or canned chicken. The second choice, however, boosts the sodium content of the soup. Note that the ingredients are lower calorie vegetables rather than starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn and lima beans.

Brunswick stew

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped pepper, red, green or a combination (optional)

2 cups chicken broth, low sodium

1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups cooked, diced and boned chicken or turkey

2 cups low sodium canned tomatoes

1 (15.5 ounce) can red or northern beans (rinsed and drained)

1 cup whole kernel corn, frozen or 1 (15.5 ounce) can corn, (rinsed and drained)

1 cup of peeled and chopped carrots

Heat oil in a large pan. Add onion and cook in oil until tender. Add all remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes at medium-low.

Source: This recipe is slightly adapted from SNAP-Ed Nutrition Program Recipe Finder.

Chicken coup

6 cups low sodium chicken broth (purchased or homemade)

1 cup cooked chicken

1/2 cup barley or quinoa

2 cups vegetables (sliced cabbage, diced carrots, cut green beans, sliced zucchini squash)

1/2 teaspoon garlic

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon dried parsley

Place cooked chicken, barley or quinoa and broth into a large saucepan. Cover. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes. Add vegetables and seasonings. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Enjoy!

Mary R. Ehret, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is with Penn State Cooperative Extension, Luzerne County, 16 Luzerne Ave., West Pittston, Pa., 18643. (570) 825-1701/602-0600. Fax (570) 825-1709. mre2@psu.edu.