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The Soup Solution

Starting a meal with a bowl of soup can help you stay healthy and eat less.

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When I eat, I want true satisfaction. I don’t want to leave the table uncomfortably stuffed, but I definitely want to feel fed. I consider it a good thing that I have the appetite of a real, active woman (life’s better when you love to eat). But I also want to continue to fit into my favorite jeans and, of course, stay healthy. One way to reconcile these seemingly conflicting desires is with soup. Really.

There is serious research showing that if you eat a bowl of vegetable soup before a meal, you wind up eating less overall and—here’s the best part—you feel just as satisfied. That’s because with a light soup as a starter, you begin to feel full before you get to the other courses, so you eat fewer calories without even trying (read: no diets). And you can do so deliciously.

For the biggest fill-factor with the lowest caloric impact, a chunky vegetable soup, served hot, is your best bet. It’s high in water and fiber (both known to promote a sense of satiety), yet it’s light and relatively low in fat (as opposed to cream-based soups, for example). Plus, its temperature compels you to eat it slowly, allowing your stomach the time it needs to tell your brain you’re full. And hearty bites of vegetables—rather than puréed veggies—make you chew longer, which also contributes to feeling full.

Besides their clear health benefits, vegetable soups are the perfect canvas for what’s in season. This time of year, I love to make hearty, warming soups using a variety of gorgeous fall vegetables, like the ones in this recipe. The foundation of onion and carrots is enhanced with chunks of butternut squash and ribbons of kale in a broth infused with herbs and spices. In two words: satisfaction guaranteed.

Recipe:

Autumn Vegetable Soup Good to Know

If you eat soup as a starter, you’ll feel satisfied and eat less. Keep these guidelines in mind as you plan your meals:

Make it a vegetable soup. No high-fat meat or cream to keep the calorie count down.

Keep the veggies chunky. You’ll need to chew longer, which will make you feel full more quickly.

Serve it hot. You’ll eat more slowly, allowing your stomach time to tell your brain that you’re full.

Autumn Vegetable Soup

Photos: Scott Phillips

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