Several years ago, I visited the Czech Republic. What I remember today almost as vividly as the stunning medieval architecture and the confusingly narrow streets is the garlic soup that preceded every meal, everywhere. The composition differed slightly from one restaurant to another, but it was always light, garlicky and refreshing. I got pretty tired of all the sausages and potatoes that followed those soups, but I never got over the soup—simple and perfect.
What I discovered then that remains true today is that beginning a meal with a bowl of healthy soup is a surefire way to end up consuming less food overall. (It’s also a great replacement for the nutrient-deficient white breads many of us are tempted to eat before a meal.)
The soup recipes that follow are light enough to precede a main course, but if you wish to make them a bigger part of the meal, you can make any of them heartier by adding filling ingredients such as grated cheese, diced ham or bacon, cooked grains or beans, or additional vegetables.
In keeping with the inspiration for this article, I’ve included recipes of Central and Eastern European origin, but the translation of this idea into your kitchen need not be so narrow. Invite seasonal ingredients and your own taste buds to be your guide as you search for healthful soup recipes to complement whatever you’re cooking. Each of these recipes serves two, but you can double or triple them for a larger family or to save leftovers for tomorrow’s dinner. Visit Healthy Soups and Stews for a collection of our favorite soup recipes.
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