Why soups will (and should) be the new smoothies

Nutrition

Several years ago, smoothies made a splash into the nutrition world as a way to provide a quick, convenient way to consume a protein-rich drink packed with enough fruit and vegetable to meet half the daily servings recommendations for these foods.

Kids and adults alike seem to be drawn to smoothies as a delicious way to “sneak in” vegetables and fruits into the pickiest of eater’s diet. I too have enjoyed many varieties of smoothies, but despite the delicious nutrient-packed goodness these smoothies provide, I often find myself wanting for more, the chewing and flavor diversity seem to be missing from the smoothie experience.

These two criteria along with the nutritional profile of many soups are why I believe soup is going to become “new smoothie” trend.

Soup can be a good option for moderating caloric intake. At 10 calories per cup, soups made from a broth base provide a low-calorie base. Cream-based soups, however, will contribute a higher number of calories and fat to the overall nutrition profile of a soup, oftentimes contributing 60-100 calories to a one-cup serving.

A soup that is made with primarily plant proteins such as beans and legumes as well as vegetables is going to be lower in calories than soups and stews that contain larger amounts of meat and smaller quantities of vegetables. Cooked vegetables contain 25 calories per half cup, whereas a 2-ounce serving of stew meat can contain 110-150 calories, depending on the cut of meat.

Soups, like a smoothie, can increase the feeling of fullness if abundant in vegetables and plant-based proteins. Vegetables, beans and legumes are rich sources of fiber. The combination of fiber and liquid from the broth contribute to an increased feeling of fullness that in turn results in increasing satiety.

Several studies on volumetric eating - consuming nutrient-rich foods in higher volume - show that consuming these types of food sources may help with weight management and weight loss. The key with volumetric eating is choosing nutrient-dense foods that contain good sources of fiber, such as vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains. Adding a low-calorie broth to the vegetables and legumes further increases the volume, contributing to that feeling of fullness and reducing the opportunity to consume excess calories.

Just like a smoothie, a variety of vegetables can be added to a broth-based soup. Vegetables such as kale, beets, sweet potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes can be added to many soups. Beans and legumes will absorb the flavors in the soup, and the texture will compliment the texture of the vegetables. Meats have traditionally been added to soups to provide heartier “rib-sticking” value to a soup.

Ancient grains such as quinoa, sorghum and amaranth are rich in B-vitamins and amino acids and therefore can boost the nutritional profile of any soup while providing a moderate number of additional calories and providing a comparable heartiness and “rib-sticking” quality to soups that meats have typically provided.

A bowl of soup filled with assorted vegetables, ancient grains, legumes and beans is a great way to include a meatless meal into your lifestyle. Plant-based diets have been associated with decreased risk for cancers and have been shown to be an important factor in preventing cardiovascular disease. The American diet consists of protein and fat from primarily animal sources and have been reported to be associated with certain types of cancers and cardiovascular disease. If you have been considering trying out a plant-based meal option, soup might be a good way to try it for the first time.

A convenient, low-cost meal option, soup may be a new trend due to the minimalism movement. Soup provides a convenient way to prepare to eat a nutrient-dense meal in one bowl. Many recipes can be prepared in a crockpot the night before or in the morning before work so that, when you return home, dinner is waiting.

Soup recipes can be doubled so that leftovers can be frozen or portioned out for a week’s worth of meals. If you haven’t prepared a homemade soup in a while, I encourage you to visit recipe sites to explore the variety of soup recipes available. Choose broth-based recipes abundant in beans, legumes, vegetables and ancient grains to ensure maximum nutritional value while moderate overall calorie content.