Filling under 500: Asian-Inspired Veggie-Loaded Chicken Noodle Soup

As some of you may know from life outside the blogosphere, my husband just won a Biggest Loser competition at his workplace. Other than the $350 prize, the main benefit of this was that he got to walk around all week saying “I’m the biggest loser!!!” Yep, he’s a funny one.

He did things the “usual” healthy way– exercised more, ate healthier. He isn’t much of a fan of any of the traditional healthy things– exercise, fruit, vegetables, lean meats, or whole grains, so this was a BIG challenge for him. He worked really hard, learned a lot of new things he liked, and lost 33 lbs in 3 months, or 15% of his body weight. As most people I know are struggling to maintain a healthy body weight and get all the nutrients they need, I thought I’d write a once-a-week series with filling meals we made for dinner while he was on this diet– they’re easy, fast enough for weeknights, packed with vegetable, lean protein, and whole-grain goodness, and delicious enough that a *very* skeptical meat and potatoes man looked forward to them.

I hear rumors that some people clean bowl rims before photographing.
Not me. Clearly.

What worked for him:

  • Every weekday: 2 c of fruit salad and a hard boiled egg for breakfast; a hearty salad (lettuce, diced tomatoes, red onions, mixed peppers, cucumbers, chicken, bleu cheese crumbles, egg whites and balsamic vinegar (no oil)) for lunch; a 1-200 calorie snack (Fiber One bars, nuts, dried apricots, rice cakes, etc.); and a filling, well-balanced under 500 calorie dinner.
  • Weekends: At least 1 “splurge” day not worrying about calories. Any restaurant visits happened on these days. The majority of foods consumed were still healthful, but they weren’t so regimented. Proof that splurge days worked for him: his biggest weight drops always came over the weekend.
  • 3x a week: Couch to 5k exercise program (he loves the iPhone app)

Why yes, I did eat half before taking this photo on my iPhone.

Now, onto the soup. This soup is my favorite soup to eat when I’m sick– between the comforting broth, the sinus-clearing spice and the throat-soothing noodles, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Of course, in theory, takeout would be better… and I do live in Brooklyn… but noone in delivery range makes acceptably delicious soup, so I’m forced (woe is me!) to make my own. Of course, it’s good when well, too.

The broth for this soup MUST be good. Nothing’s pureed into it, so if it isn’t a broth you like drinking, don’t bother. You can make perfectly acceptable vegetable broth in half an hour, great chicken broth in an hour, or make your own vegetable bouillon to store in the freezer, though, so don’t despair! Everything else is flexible, making it a great eat down the pantry dish. The basic rule is: if it would go in a stir fry, it goes in this dish. The recipe is easily scaled, infinitely flexible, and you can down two giant bowlfuls without cracking 400 calories. My favorite versions of this soup have chicken, soba noodles, and cabbage… but really, anything goes. The recipe below is for my favorite iteration.

Asian-Inspired Veggie-Loaded Chicken Soup

2 bowls– serves 2 sick patients or 1 hungry person (nutrition values are for the entire recipe.) Scales well.

2 t sesame oil (optional, can substitute any other oil)
2 oz boneless raw chicken, cubed
1/4 onion, diced
1-2 stalks thinly sliced celery
1/2 carrot, thinly sliced (or ~4 baby carrots)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1″ nub of ginger, minced
2 scallions (white and green parts divided)
1/3 c snow peas, cut into small pieces
1/3 c red pepper, cut into small pieces
1/2 c cabbage (I like napa)
3 c chicken stock
1.5 oz soba noodles (I’ve used rice and egg noodles w/ great success as well)
1 t low sodium soy sauce
1/2 t hot sauce
2 t lime juice
1/4 c cilantro, minced

In a soup pot, saute the chicken in sesame oil (if needed) over medium heat until just cooked through. Remove to your soup bowl.

Sautee ginger, garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and the white part of the scallions– basically, all aromatics and slow-cooking/ hard vegetables– over medium heat until the onions start to shrink down and the mixture is fragrant. 3-4 minutes. Add all other vegetables and cook until they start to soften, another 2-3 minutes. Toss in the cooked chicken and stock and bring to a low boil. Add noodles and cook on until soft enough to eat (for soba, ~5 minutes). Add soy sauce, hot sauce, lime juice, and cilantro to taste.

For extra credit, use more than 1/2 teaspoon of this stuff. Phew!

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1098 g
Amount Per Serving

Calories                              Calories from Fat

360                                     21
% Daily Value*

Total Fat            2.3g                                  4%

Saturated Fat  0.6g                                   3%

Trans Fat           0.0g

Cholesterol       33mg                             11%

Sodium             891mg                           37%

Total Carbohydrates 57.5g                19%

Dietary Fiber  6.7g                                27%

Sugars              9.8g

Protein             29.4g

Vitamin A 169% Vitamin C 162%
Calcium 13% Iron 29%
Nutrition Grade A
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

One response to this post.

  1. Congrats to your husband, Tanya! Losing that much weight is a huge accomplishment, and he certainly did it the right way. Not only that, he had a loving, supportive wife to help him along the way, so the victory really belongs to both of you 🙂 His regular breakfasts and lunches are full of fruits and veggies (perfect!), and using an iPhone app to stay motivated is a fabulous idea! Your post is packed with great tips! Your veggie-loaded chicken noodle soup sounds nice and light, and perfect for these cold days. Well done!


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