When the weather gets colder and you’re looking for ways to revamp your hospital food service for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, what better to offer patients and staff than a selection of hearty soups? Instead of the light hot weather fare that was meant to be cool and refreshing in the dog days of summer, it’s time to start coming up with a hospital menu that makes people feel warm and cozy when the weather outside is frightful. Soup isn’t just warming, either – it has plenty of benefits, ranging from copious nutrition, to anti-inflammatory properties, to weight management features. Here’s an in-depth look at what a great soup selection can do for your hospital room service operation, as well as a few ideas for the best offerings.
The many benefits of soup
It might not seem like a particularly beneficial meal option at first glance, but soup can surprise you with the many positive factors it can contribute to a person’s diet. Here are some of the most promising aspects of this type of liquid meal.
– It’s filling: For those with weight management issues especially, soup is a good meal option because it’s often low in calories (when it’s broth-based as opposed to cream-based) and full of vegetables, which offer fiber. Fiber not only makes you feel full, but it makes the digestive system work harder, meaning extra calories are being burned for a few hours after the meal. One study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior even found that people ate the fewest calories on days when they ate soup instead of the same ingredients in solid form.
– It’s a good way to add nutrients to a diet: People don’t always like to eat their vegetables or whole grains, but it’s a lot easier to do so when they’re snuck into a delicious soup. The Washington Post pointed out that overlooked veggies like bok choy and parsnips – which are full of nutrients but might not be people’s first choice – don’t seem so bad when they’re added to a soup with other ingredients that are usually crowd pleasers, like noodles, carrots or rice. It’s also simple to add whole grains into a soup, whether through wild rice, quinoa or barley. Popular seasonings like ginger or garlic are also very healthy.
– It can actually make sick patients feel better: There’s a reason why people consider soup a good food to eat when you’re sick – especially chicken noodle soup. Research surrounding chicken noodle soup in particular has found that not only can the warm steam of the soup help to relieve congestion, but the high water content can potentially flush out viral bugs and some ingredient (researchers aren’t sure exactly what) actually works as an anti-inflammatory, which can help relieve cold symptoms. Even the act of eating warm soup has been shown to boost people’s comfort levels and mood.
Which ones should make it onto your hospital menu?
When it comes to choosing which soups to offer patients and staff, you have lots of options. Chicken noodle soup should definitely be featured because of its proven benefits, but you don’t have to make it boring. FoodService Director magazine suggested different takes, like putting a Thai spin on it or getting fancy with lemon herb-roasted chicken noodle soup with thyme-infused egg noodles.
Other options may include French onion soup, miso soup, hot and sour soup, turkey and rice soup, tomato soup, butternut squash soup, kale and garlic soup, minestrone soup or even oxtail soup. Whichever ones you choose to make, you can be sure they’ll boost patient satisfaction this season.