Advertisement

What Is 'Souping?' Here's What to Know About This Popular Health Trend

Many different bowls of soup

While it would be nice if diet culture exited stage left and never returned, it's still alive and well. Specifically, the cabbage soup diet—which is precisely what it sounds like (eating all cabbage soup in an attempt to lose weight)—rose in popularity in the 1980s. 

These days, an all-soup diet is back. But people are calling it "souping," and they're not only consuming cabbage soup. Does that...make it any better? What is souping, exactly?

"Souping, often seen as a method for clean eating and weight loss, involves adhering to a diet consisting exclusively of vegetable soups for a set duration, typically seven days," says Kelsey Costa, MS, RDN, a nutrition consultant for Diabetes Strong, Inc. "In essence, 'souping' is the soup version of a juice cleanse." 

Some people may follow looser versions of souping. "Some individuals may exclusively consume vegetable soups, while others may have soup before a meal, in every meal or just two meals a day," explains Isabel Vazquez, RD, a registered dietitian with Memorial Hermann in Houston.

Costa notes that consuming soup multiple times a day may have some benefits, including souping to lose weight. She shares, "The high water content in soups can also contribute to feelings of fullness and hydration, which are both important for weight management."

Yet Costa and Vazquez are rather cold on the souping trend—and anything that purports to be a one-stop solution for weight loss. "It's important to convey a clear message that there's no miraculous solution for weight loss or overall well-being," Vazquez explains. "Relying solely on vegetable soup may deprive individuals of essential nutrients found in a diverse diet."

So, should you try the souping diet? What are the risks and benefits? Here's everything you need to know. 

Related: These Are the 3 Go-To Dinners of People Who Never Gain Weight

What Are the Benefits of Souping?

Registered dietitians are not proponents of consuming an all-soup diet, especially not for an extended period. However, there may be some health benefits to increasing soup intake, especially the intake of veggie-based soups. Edwina Clark, MS, RD, a registered dietitian, says the benefits of souping include:

  • Reduced calorie intake

  • Potential weight loss

  • Increased veggie and fiber intake

  • Better dietary quality

  • Hydration

A 2020 review and meta-analysis found that soup consumption was associated with reduced odds of having obesity. Additionally, in an older study from 2014, researchers linked soup consumption with better dietary quality, including more fiber, protein, and many vitamins and minerals (Notably, participants who ate more soup also consumed more sodium).

"If you are struggling to intake an adequate amount of vegetables per day, vegetable-based soups can be beneficial for increasing your daily servings," says Sarah Herrington, MS, CNC, CPT, a nutritionist at Brio-Medical.

It's not all about nutrition facts and weight loss, though. Some people straight-up love soup, and that's valid. "Souping can be a healthy way to eat if you enjoy eating soup," Herrington adds.

Still, experts emphasize that souping is hardly without its flaws. "This approach should not be used for an extended period, as it lacks nutritional diversity, misses essential nutrients found in a balanced diet, and is not a sustainable or magic solution for long-term health or weight management," Costa warns.

Some people, in particular, will want to speak with a healthcare provider and check the ingredients in soup before trying this diet, and some people are better off avoiding it altogether. "Individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities should steer clear of soups containing wheat, while those with lactose intolerance should avoid creamy, dairy-based soups," Vazquez explains. "Individuals needing to monitor their sodium intake...should exercise caution with high-sodium soups. Similarly, individuals struggling with blood sugar control should be wary of soups high in carbohydrates."

According to Vazquez, people with kidney disease will also want to exercise caution because of concerns over sodium and potassium. And notably, "Anyone with a history of eating disorder or who classifies as underweight [should avoid souping]," Clark adds.  

Related: Your Heart Disease Risk Could Go Up 22% if Your Calories Come from This Surprising Source, According to New Research

Soup Before Meals: The Magic Trick for Weight Loss?

"Magic" is a cringe word for nutrition experts, particularly when it comes to weight loss, but it is possible that adding more soup to your diet could help with weight loss. 

"Soup is dense in water," Herrington says. "There was a study showing that obese individuals who consumed a glass of water before a meal ate less and therefore lost more weight than those who did not."

Soup likely has a similar effect, but you will need to consume more than soup to have a well-balanced, healthy diet. "Like many strict diets, relying solely on soups may not be sustainable in the long term," Vazquez explains. "While they can be a beneficial component of a healthy eating plan, it's essential to maintain variety and ensure the overall balance of nutrients for long-term health and well-being." 

Related: People Who Never Gain Weight Swear By This Simple Morning Habit

A Registered Dietitian's Favorite Soup Recipe

Vazquez shares a favorite soup recipe to add to your rotation of well-balanced meals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole shredded Rotisserie chicken

  • 8 cups chicken broth (homemade, low sodium store-bought or just water)

  • 1 large tomato, diced

  • ½ cilantro bunch, finely chopped

  • ½ large onion, diced

  • 1 can tomato sauce

  • 2 large potatoes, diced

  • 1 bag 16 oz frozen mixed vegetables

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Shred the chicken meat using two forks and discard the bones and skin.

  2. bring the chicken broth to a simmer over medium heat in a large pot.

  3. Add the shredded chicken parts to the pot and the diced tomatoes, potatoes, onions, tomato sauce and cilantro.

  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for about 45-60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

  6. Add the frozen vegetables and let them cook for 5 more minutes.

  7. Removed from heat, let it cool and enjoy

Sources