The air is getting crisper, the leaves are getting redder, which means it’s time for all kinds of awesome things: Tailgate parties, apple cider, sweaters, pumpkin spice everything and our favorite—soup. Soup season means a delicious bowl of warmth on a brisk day. And soup can do much more than fill your seasonal cravings. It may help you eat less at your next meal and stay fuller for longer.
In one study, researchers had study participants eat a low-calorie broth before having a lunch entree. Those who ate the soup ate 20 percent fewer calories at the meal compared to when they’d had the same meal without the pre-entree broth. And other studies have shown that slow the time of “gastric emptying”—that is, soup stays in your stomach longer than other foods, so you feel fuller for longer than when eating a solid meal.
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So fill your bowl and start with these five favorites for soup season: They’re simple to make, they’ll fill you up, and best of all—they’re delicious.
1. Zuppa Toscana Soup >
Calories per serving: 184
Counts as: One SmartCarb, one PowerFuel and half a Vegetable
One of our soup season favorites: This soup has all the flavors of the Italian restaurant favorite—sausage, garlic and creamy broth—with fewer gut-busting calories. But the best part: It makes six servings, so if you prepare this hearty, chunky dish once, you can eat lunch all week. So break out the crockpot, chop some potatoes and kale, and make it!
2. Chicken Parm Soup >
Calories per serving: 227
Counts as: One SmartCarb, two PowerFuels and one Vegetable
If you love the flavors of chicken parm—and who doesn’t—you’ll love this soup season classic: All that mouth-watering chicken-cheese-tomato flavor packed into a low-calorie, belly-filling soup that takes just four simple steps to prepare. If you can saute an onion, you can make this soup in less than 20 minutes and have six servings of hearty lunch to last all week.
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3. Loaded Potato Soup >
Calories per serving: 315
Counts as: One Nutrisystem Lunch, one PowerFuel and half a Vegetable
This isn’t some thin, flavorless, unsatisfying “diet” soup: It’s a creamy, hearty, flavor-packed and satiating soup that’s worthy of being called a meal. Using the Nutrisystem Loaded Potato, one of our most popular lunches, the recipe thickens things up with milk, adds flavor from chicken broth and spinach, and a delicious garlic kick. It takes just five minutes to make, but you’ll enjoy the meal—and feeling comfortably satisfied and full—long into the afternoon.
4. Creamy Sweet Potato Soup >
Calories per serving: 259
Counts as: One PowerFuel, one SmartCarb and two Extras
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that soup empties out of your system slower than solid meals, keeping you fuller for longer, one result was extra-surprising: Thinner, creamier soups actually stayed in the gastric system longer than chunkier broth-based foods. So while you might think a more liquid-based soup wouldn’t fill you up, it may actually fill you up—and keep you full—better than other lunch options.
This creamy sweet potato soup combines that smooth, belly-filling property with other satisfying features: There’s the hearty flavor of sweet potato, of course, but also fiber from both the tubers and cannellini beans. Insoluble fiber, the kind found in both of these foods, slows the rate of digestion so you feel fuller, longer. So fill up on this orange bowl—perfect for fall.
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5. Easy French Onion Soup >
Calories per serving: 240
Counts as: One PowerFuel, one SmartCarb, one Vegetable and one Extra
A salty, beefy, onion-flavored soup topped with melted cheese for just 240 calories? Seems impossible, but it’s not. The granddaddy of decadent soups can be yours in less than an hour with this simple recipe—six ingredients simmered together and topped with two slices of light Swiss. It’s a classic flavor that you can feel great about all fall—and winter—long.