A Souper Vacation!

We are headed to the Caribbean soon, hence, it is time for the annual "Soup Cleanse." Basically, that means taking a vacation from eating whatever I want for the next several days, so that I can spend a hedonistic week in the tropics without coming home with extra baggage, a.k.a. vacation pudge.

Sometimes, I dread the soup diet, but I must say, I've actually been doing okay so far this time around (it's only day 3 of 14). You can't help but feel better after a few days on this plan. All those lovely vegetables have to be doing something good, right? And, resetting your system and feeling a bit trimmer while still eating full meals, isn't a terrible thing either, especially with bikini season right around the corner. Am I right, ladies?

I've posted about the "Amazing Soup Diet" a few times before, so apologies to those of you who are weary of hearing about it. However, some of you have asked me for more details, so this time, I'm sharing the recipe as well as a link to the whole program, which comes from Good Housekeeping magazine, and which you can find here.

Once your soup is made, you just follow the plan. They even give you a grocery list to make things easier. You'll eat from a choice of breakfast and lunch options and then every night, a version of the soup and a small side. For example, on Monday night, I measured out two cups of the basic soup and added portions of whole wheat rotini and cannellini beans, some chopped basil and grated romano cheese for the Minestrone version, which was served with a dollop of plain yogurt and berries. Last night, into the basic soup went some ground turkey breast, egg noodles, paprika, caraway seeds and low-fat sour cream for Goulash, with a side of seedless grapes. Tonight, I'll do the Southwest Chili version with a side of a few baked tortilla chips, and for the weekend, my favorite, Thai Shrimp Soup, with a half of an apple on the side. Plus, you get two 100-calorie treats per week -- and yes, wine counts. And, if you find yourself starving, you can have as much soup as you want -- its low calorie goodness will fill you up.

Pretty tasty as far as "diets" go, and a little prep ahead of time makes dinner a snap all week. Give it a shot! (What do you have to lose, except a few pounds?)

Amazing Soup Diet Basic Recipe from Good Housekeeping
Minimal MESS, Category 3+
1 lb carrots, sliced
1 1/2 lbs onions (3 medium), chopped
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 28 oz cans, whole tomatoes in juice
1 lb (1/2 small head) green cabbage, thinly sliced
3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed cut into thirds
48 oz. chicken broth
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/4 lbs zucchini (3 medium), sliced in half lengthwise, then into half moons
12 oz baby spinach leaves*

*Note: After a few rounds of this, I've learned that chopping the baby spinach into small pieces helps a lot when you're on day 6. Trust me, do it.

To Do:
  • Coat a 12-quart stockpot with nonstick cooking spray. 
  • Over medium-high heat, add carrots, onions, celery, and garlic; cook 8 minutes or until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the tomatoes with their liquid, breaking up tomatoes with side of spoon. 
  • Add the cabbage, green beans, broth, water, salt and pepper; heat to boiling over high heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Increase heat to high; stir in the zucchini and spinach and heat to boiling. 
  • Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer again 10 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. 
  • Let cool and you're ready to start your soup adventure! (Makes 28 cups of soup. 1 cup of soup = 45 calories and 1 gram of fat.)
Check out the Good Housekeeping website for the complete program and more soup versions. Just note that everything is measured out for one person, so don't forget to double if you're doing this with a buddy.

Good luck, and have a souper day!