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The Joy of Soup: It is not very often that I hear from someone who struggles with technical issues when eating soup after weight loss surgery. Soup doesn't get "stuck" going down and if we eat too much the discomfort is short-lived (compared to eating too much solid food that is poorly chewed and eaten quickly). In fact, when post-WLS patients discover soup it often becomes their go-to comfort food. When animal protein is cooked into a soup it is moist and succulent making it easy to chew, swallow, and digest. Cooked vegetables are more readily tolerated by many WLSers compared to raw vegetables. And grains like pearl barley or quinoa are portion controlled and digestible when included as an ingredient in soup. Perhaps it sounds cliché but there is truly joy in a simple healthy cup of soup.

Stock your freezer: Soups, stocks, and broths are easy to freeze. Use heavy-duty freezer bags or plastic containers, but be sure to leave some room for expansion as the liquids freeze. Identify the contents in writing, and be sure to mark down a use-by date (in general, three months). You can also freeze stock and broth in an ice cube tray and then transfer to freezer bags or plastic containers. When you're ready to use the cubes, melt them with boiling water.

Beans and Barley Soup
This is an especially nutritious soup; barley adds another source of soluble fiber. This recipe quick-soaks the beans but you can soak the beans overnight, if you wish. Pureeing some of the beans adds extra body to the soup. For quicker preparation use 2 cups canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed, in place of the dry beans and skip the soaking step.

1 cup dried pinto beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups finely chopped red onion
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
9 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 tables grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Sort and wash beans; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel. (If using canned beans omit this step.) Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, parsley, celery, carrot and basil; cook 3 minutes stirring frequently. Add beans, 9 cups water, broth and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaves. Place 3/4 cup beans and 3/4 cup cooking liquid in a blender; process until smooth (Or use an immersion blender processing to desired consistency.) Return pureed bean mixture to pan. Stir in barley, salt, pepper, and hot sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until barley is done. Ladle soup into individual bowls and sprinkle with cheese. Nutrition:Serves 4. Per 1-cup serving: 308 calories, 15 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams dietary fiber.

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Black Bean Soup
Beans are anaturally low-GI (Glycemic Index) food and one of nature's nutritional power foods. They are considered good sources of vegetable protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium. Black beans are particularly full-flavored and the seasoning and spices in this recipe enhance the flavorful appeal for a satisfying meal.

1 cup dry black beans
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 large red pepper, roasted
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 quarts vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, cover black beans with 3 1/2 cups water and soak overnight. Rinse beans in a colander with fresh water and drain. Lightly spray a large saucepan with olive oil. Cook and stir onions, carrots, celery, roasted pepper and garlic Add vegetable stock and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour. When beans are tender, pour into a food processor and puree. Add cumin, salt, oregano, parsley, and cilantro. Nutrition: Serves 6. Per 1-cup serving: 140 calories, 13 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams dietary fiber and .5 grams of fat.

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Hot & Sour Soup
This vegetarian soup provides ample protein with the inclusion of tofu. Be sure to stir fry the tofu cubes as directed for the best flavor. You will enjoy the aroma and traditional flavors in this take-out favorite prepared right in your own pot. This is a comforting and simple meal to enjoy often, and again, another example of including vegetable carbohdrates as ingredients in a recipe.

2 medium red chilies, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
5 cups vegetable broth
2 stalks lemon grass, halved
4 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced-sodium
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 package (16 ounces) firm tofu, cubed
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 medium scallions, chopped
1 cup bok choy, shredded

Directions: Mix the chilies and vinegar together in a small non-reactive bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the lemon grass, soy sauce, sugar, and lime juice, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Heat the oil in a preheated wok; add the tofu cubes and stir-fry over high heat for 2 to 3-minutes, or until browned all over. (You may need to do this in 2 batches, depending on the size of the wok.) Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add the vinegar-chili mixture, mushrooms, tofu cubes, and half the scallions to the stock mixture and cook for 10 minutes. Mix the remaining scallions with the bok choy and use to garnish the soup before serving. Nutrition: Serves 6. Per 1-cup serving: 269 calories, 13 grams protein, 11 grams fat, 33 grams carbohydrate.

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Kaye Bailey is the author of countless articles syndicated in several languages, and books available in print and electronic format including The 5 Day Pouch Test Owner's Manual 2nd Edition 2012, (1st Edition 2008 out-of-print, 50K copies in circulation); Day 6: Beyond the 5 Day Pouch Test (2009 – 3rd Printing January 2015); Cooking with Kaye Methods to Meals: Protein First Recipes You Will Love (2012).


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