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Published: Wednesday, 1/16/2013

Lose extra pounds in a bowl of soup

BY MARY ALICE POWELL
BLADE COLUMNIST

If it was mid July and I needed to lose 20 pounds, a soup diet wouldn’t have as much appeal as it does in the winter. Just the word soup conjures the image of comforting foods mingling and simmering in a pot on the stove with steam emitting a welcoming aroma.

Adding diet to the recipe title two weeks after the holidays is a winning ticket for those of us who don’t count calories or cookies until it’s too late.

Soup diets are not new. Every 10 or 15 years a new version dazzles wannabe weight losers with promises that are more attractive than the average diet plan.

The soup diet published in the January issue of Woman’s World proclaims a loss of 10 pounds in a week by eating a soup made of ingredients that control hunger. Mind you, the diet soup is not recommended as a course before dinner, but as a meal on its own.

The soup recipe applauded by Christine Avanti, author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food surprisingly includes a cooked starch, such as beans, quinoa, or brown rice, and a cooked protein, like chicken or turkey.

In the Cabbage Diet Soup recipe that I remember from the ‘80s and now have simmering on my stove, the luxury of starch and protein in the ingredients is ignored. Compared to the 2013 version it is plain Jane.

Surely you remember the Cabbage Soup recipe and craze when we eagerly gathered a head of cabbage, green peppers, and onions, and made sure there was Lipton onion soup mix and tomato or V-8 juice in the pantry. As the recipe advanced around the country it took on other names, including Mayo Clinic (although it had no connection to the Minnesota clinic) Dolly Parton, Sacred Heart Hospital, and Military Cabbage Soup.

A pound a day, 10 pounds in a week, even if the testimonies from eating soup three times a day weren’t inviting enough, the ease of preparation was. At the opposite end of the haute cuisine scale when soups begin tedious stock production, the cabbage soup goes together about as quick as you can cut the vegetables and open a can.

The best news is that each cup is 66 calories.

Followers have found many ways to make the original cabbage soup more interesting and flavorful. Adding cubed or shredded chicken or turkey, leftover cooked beef, or even shrimp makes it more appealing to family members who are satisfied with their weight.

Whether the soup is used as a guide to losing weight or not, it is a lesson in how easy soup making can be and how important vegetables are in menu planning.

Cabbage Diet Soup

1 medium head cabbage, shredded or chopped

2 large onions or green onions, chopped

1 16 to 18-ounce can tomatoes, chopped or whole

1 green onions, chopped

4 stalks celery, sliced

1 or 2 packages Lipton Dry Onion Soup Mix

Black pepper to season

Fresh herbs, minced (your choice)

6 carrots, sliced

Optional: ½ cup green beans

½ cup balsamic vinegar

Put vegetables in soup pot. Add soup mix. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Cover until vegetables are tender. Season with pepper and fresh herbs. Do not add salt.

Variations: Use canned tomatoes that are flavored with oregano, garlic, or basil. Some recipes use V-8 juice for a more liquid result. Season the soup with red pepper flakes or parsley. Two bouillon cubes are often used in this recipe for additional flavor. Consider chopped cilantro. Mushrooms are candidates to be added because they contain nutrients that help the body burn calories.



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