We’ve recently added a healthy component to our dinners – soup. We were turned on to this idea during our holiday where at my aunt’s tea estate, soup is always served before dinner as we all loll in front of the TV. Simple, yet so tasty mugs of tomato, vegetable and chicken are a nightly ritual. It got us thinking though – does having soup fill you up so you eat less for your main meal or does it tickle your appetite and make you want to eat more. A study presented in Digestive Disease Week (it’s a real publication, I checked) on whether having soup at the beginning of a meal increases your appetite so that you scoff down more of your mains or whether makes you full up so you eat less later on found that eating a “fatty soup” (I’m assuming they mean with cream) can have “a therapeutic potential for obesity”. I quote: “In this study, we found that fatty soup as an appetizer reduces food intake by about 20 percent in both lean and obese subjects and may have a therapeutic potential for obesity,” said Jiande Chen, Ph.D., of the University of Texas Medical Branch and senior author of the study.
If someone can click on the link and explain to me what “therapeutic potential for obesity” means that would be great. I’m assuming it’s a good thing. No matter what the research says I think an intake of pure spinach, tomatoes or vegetable broth cannot be a bad thing – as long as it is homemade and not out of a packet. When I lived in London I ate horribly. Even though I love to cook, I just never had the time to in London after a very hard days work. I did try to cook on the weekends so that I’d have some left overs for the week but cooking a fresh meal everyday was just not an option. My husband, before we were married didn’t have great eating habits either. Sure, he lived in the mess so there was food provided but mess food gets really predictable and boring. Plus, you can’t go eat in your shorts and baniyan (vest), one has to dress decently in the Naval Mess. He wasn’t allowed to have a hot plate in his cabin/room but he had one anyway and would cook crabs and fish fry on the rare occasion. But most of the time he would order out. In Bombay he built the city’s tallest pizza box collection. He and his course mate Fernandes were such good customers that their pictures were put up on the wall of Planet Pizza in Colaba, with garlands. Their patronage allowed the owner to build a second floor to his pizza shop and pay for his daughter’s wedding.
But since we got married 3 years ago, both of our lives have changed dramatically and for the better I might add. The biggest change has been the health kick. Both of us, big drinker/smokers have quit all our addictive vices. We may have the occasional half pint of beer or small vodka tonic at a party but that’s the most. This is a girl who once drank 7 pints of London Pride in a night. I was a big ale drinker. I used to say that I was probably a Yorkshire lass deep down inside. I never missed a CAMRA expo (Campaign for Real Ale) at Olympia.
Now we do yoga, my husband cycles over 20 kms to work and back and we eat fresh tasty healthy meals everyday. Soup is just another addition to our healthy life styles. You’re probably reading this thinking what a bunch of squares they’ve become. But actually I don’t miss alcohol at all. I just don’t. It’s fantastic never to wake up with a hangover. I’ve got so much more energy, I’m super productive, I wake up early and I feel I’ve gained so many more hours in the day. Half the weekend in London was spent recovering from a dry mouth and a pounding head – not fun, no matter how much fun I’d had the night before.
Our favourite soup is Spinach soup: pure green goodness and it tastes delicious. We do other soups as well but I do wish we got vegetables like leeks and celery in Vizag. That’ll be the day. 3 florets of Broccoli which makes an inconsistent appearance at Spencer’s Hypermarket costs a ridiculous Rs.150. No thank you.
Here’s how spinach soup is done:
Fry 1 small finely chopped onion in a tsp of olive oil till it just browns. You need to cook the onions well till that onion flavour goes Wash spinach leaves, chop up. Add to the onions. Don’t add extra water. Stir the leaves around and allow it to wilt.
Next put the whole lot in a blender with water or chicken stock for better flavour. Add salt to taste and milk instead of cream for a healthier option. If using a stock cube, taste before adding salt as some cubes have salt in it. Wait for it to cool down before blending or it will spurt all over the place. Blend well. Pass through a strainer/sieve otherwise you will get strands in your soup.
I find that a warm mug of soup while reading or watching TV before one tucks in to dinner is something really special but really simple. Puts a big smile on our faces.