How Much Soup Can You Eat At One Sitting?
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Brian Wansink, a Cornell University professor who spends much of his career doing brilliantly-mischievous experiments based around the psychology of eating, wrote Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think which I highly recommend. Over the years, he has dreamed up endless experiments involving everything from different-sized plates and glasses to why we often lose track of how much we are eating when we are with friends and family but one which is particularly pertinent here is his Bottomless Soup Bowl Study.

Participants were seated at a table, four at a time to eat soup, but what they didn’t know was that two of the four bowls were attached to a tube underneath the table which very slowly and imperceptibly refilled the bowls! Those eating from the ‘bottomless’ bowls consumed an incredible 73 percent more soup than those eating from the other bowls AND estimated that they had consumed 140.5kcals fewer than they actually did! Wansink believes, and many of his experiments clearly indicate that we often eat with our eyes and not necessarily with our stomachs and he offers a wealth of clever tips and tricks on how we can redress the balance. It’s fascinating stuff!

But… however you play it … a really great soup is a bit of magic in a bowl and nutritionally rich in antioxidants and many disease-fighting protectors - BUT - perhaps the trick here is - don’t go ‘bottomless’ - particularly if you are trying to lose a few pounds!

Perhaps you might like to try my Black Bean Soup with Smoked Ham Hock? This one is so tasty and filling, more than one generous bowl is unlikely!

Soup, Sparklers and Bonfires!

Oh I know that I have mentioned this soup on more than one occasion - but it’s mega-fast, mega-easy, mega-tasty and even if you have never made soup in your puff, you will be somewhat surprised by your efforts!

As I see it, there are 3 things that make bonfire night kind of special (well, apart from the fireworks!)

  1. Mulled wine with a lot more than a just a dash of brandy to keep the chill out (make your own or buy one of those syrups from the supermarket and add more cinnamon, other spices, some oranges and some fiery, warming alcohol of choice.

  2. Burgers and buns (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, venison, veggie, buffalo, bison) - the choice is endless - ask your local butcher rather than buying from the supermarket shelves - he’s is usually a real star on the ‘burger front’ and you know it has been freshly made on the day.

  3. AND THIS SOUP… it can be made in 30 minutes then blitzed so it is a little easier for pouring from a flask.

It's Nearly Time to make Pumpkin Soup - Again!
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When I was a kid, in Scotland, we employed a big knobbly turnip/swede/neep/tumshie (how many names can a vegetable possibly have, you ask?) to make our scary halloween lanterns that we carried from door-to-door, rehearsing our little song, dance or poem along the way - you certainly didn’t get away with telling a lame joke back then! And, if you didn’t totally ‘freeze’ under the stare of a few overly-stern neighbours (who didn’t really get into the whole thing and only under peer pressure, opened their doors), there was a chance that you might get some sweets, a tangerine, a few monkey nuts and maybe even a sixpenny bit for your efforts!

DISCLOSURE: A few real ‘Scrooges’ were known to put all the lights out and went to bed around 6 rather than part with a few monkey nuts - yes, Mr and Mrs P at number 9 and Mrs F at number 18 - I mean you!

Anyways… it was a total relief to us Scots that we have generally accepted the American habit of using a pumpkin rather than a turnip as they were notoriously hard to scoop out and even worse to carve any kind of creative design, but we knew no better - all we knew was that Cinderella’s carriage turned into a pumpkin at midnight, not that it was some kind of massive and carvable vegetable!

And best of all, the pumpkin flesh and seeds we laboriously scoop out can be turned into loads of delicious food!

Here are 2 recipes you might want to make with all the pumpkin flesh that is cluttering your kitchen counters! I have to warn you that the squash/pumpkin and sage soup is a thing of complete and utter beauty and one bowl is never enough plus it’s very hard to say no to a generous helping of the pumpkin/squash and sage pasta which is a favourite at any time of the year.

UPDATE: me and the other kids on our road haven’t necessarily forgiven Mr and Mrs P from number 9 and Mrs F from number 18 but after around 15 years or so, we decided to let the whole ‘halloween thing’ go - grown-up or what?

 Pumpkin/Squash & Sage Soup (click on the image for the recipe)

Pumpkin/Squash & Sage Soup (click on the image for the recipe)

 Pumpkin/Squash & Sage Pasta (click on the image for recipe)

Pumpkin/Squash & Sage Pasta (click on the image for recipe)

It's Merely an Observation!!

BUT…. not only do glorious homemade soups taste so, so much better than canned, pouched, cartoned or take-away soups (well, that’s MY view anyway), but generally-speaking, there is a deal less sugar, salt and on occasions, saturated fat therein!

In an effort to prove my theory, I pitched my Chicken and Barley Broth against a number of other ‘offerings’ and to be totally fair to all those soups in the frame, I included a few blind-tasters who rather-relish a good soup!

It was slightly stressful I have to confess but eventually my recipe won hands down! Yes, it takes a little longer to make your own soup and there is the shopping for ingredients involved but there is also the fact that there are scant levels of sugar and salt and the only fats involved are fats that aid nerve, bone, heart, brain and muscle health.

The New Covent Garden Chicken & Barley Nutri Soup came in second (deemed by my tasters to be the best when time is not on your side) but perhaps we should have a quick look at the list of ingredients: Water, Tomato (15%), Onion, Butternut Squash, Carrot, Chicken (5%), Haricot Beans (4%), Tomato Paste, Barley (3%), Celery, Garlic, Salt, Chicken Stock, Sage, Lemon Juice, Thyme, Black Pepper, Chicken Stock contains: Chicken, Yeast Extract, Chicken Fat, Salt, Sugar, Dried Onion, Lemon Juice from Concentrate, Black Pepper, Sage Extract, Rosemary Extract

Not too shabby actually but sugar and salt feature here and there a little too often and there is only 5% chicken - the blind-tasters were more than happy with my goodly amount of chicken!

NOTE TO SELF AND OTHERS: get the soup pot out as often as you can and if time is an issue, keep an eagle eye on the ingredients of ready-made soups. And remember, they are generally listed as ‘most to last’ so if sugar and salt are anywhere in the fist half dozen ingredients, walk away!

It Never Ceases to Astound Me!
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... just how many emails I receive around the beginning of September asking for my advice to shed a few of those 'summer holiday pounds' - how in heaven's name did that happen; we both ask?

The 'added' pounds/kilos appear to have very little respect - they pile on at any time of the year if we don't 'keep a handle' on things! BUT.... there is, of course, soup, glorious soup and in my view, a wonderfully-reliable way to lose weight with lorry-loads of essential nutrients and filling and delicious flavours from one delectable bowl to the next AND I rather think September is a pretty cracking time to get the soup ladle out the drawer! Fancy having a go with my free, downloadable, recently-devised diet? It's not just about soup by the way! Read more...