I’ve been waiting for this soup for weeks. Eleven weeks, to be exact. That’s how long I was enrolled in a research diet study, and unable to eat anything other than the food they provided me, which was nowhere near as delicious as this soup.
The study is designed to compare the effects of three different diets — the American Diet, the Mediterrnean Diet, and a high-protein diet — on weight loss and cardiovascular disease risk.
I randomized to the American Diet, meaning that Thursday’s lunch was a slice of pizza with potato chips and an afternoon snack of Oreos and chocolate pudding, Saturday’s lunch was hamburger and fries, and the most veggies I ever saw at one sitting was a measly stalk of broccoli.
Despite this, I lost 30 pounds over the 11 weeks of the study, primarily because my caloric intake was only 1,200 calories per day, carefully calculated based on my basal metabolic rate.
The best part about my diet was that they supplied me all the food, free of charge. Since the research kitchen is located on the floor above my office, that meant stopping in on the way to work for my breakfast, then having lunch delivered to my desk at 1pm, and dinner dropped off late afternoon for me to take home. Easiest diet I’ve ever undertaken. Not to mention knowing they’d kick me out if I was caught cheating.
I don’t know yet how my cholesterol fared during the diet, but if the pilot data are right, it will be lower simply because I lost so much weight. The big question, of course, is how well I fared compared to my cohorts on the other diets. That, my dears, will have to await publication of the final results.
Before you go congratulating me on my weight loss, let me tell you that much of the weight I lost was poundage I had already shed last year on a Zone Delivery Diet and subsequently regained. This makes me quite typical, a fact that I now understand and have stopped feeling guilty about since reading David Kessler’s book “The End of Overeating“, which I highly recommend for anyone struggling, as I have, to lose or maintain their weight. Now that I am finished the research diet, however, I intend to be anything but typical. I plan not only to maintain my weight loss, but to keep it going until I reach my wedding weight. What’s different this time?
I’ll be sharing this over the weeks as I continue this new phase of my life, but will give you one major difference. I no longer think of foods as “good’ or “bad” when it comes to losing weight. After all, I lost a lot of weight eating potato chips, pizza, bacon, pancakes, sausage, cookies and french fries. While I am not advocating a diet composed primarily of these kinds of food, I now inherently understand that I can enjoy previously “forbidden” foods and still lose weight, provided I am conscious of portion control and calories.
I have lost 3 more pounds in the week on my own since finishing the research diet, and have no sense at all that I am dieting. I am just eating the way I ate for the past 11 weeks, which is consciously, slowly and at around 1200 calories per day. Breakfast most days is steel cut oats with chopped dates and a side of turkey bacon or sausage. Lunch today was one of my all time fave sandwiches — part skim mozarella on a sourdough baguette with pesto and tomatoes — and an apple. And dinner? Well, that brings me to this marvelous Rustic Shrimp Bisque.
Mr TBTAM had the nerve to make this soup my first week on the research diet, and all I ever got was the tiniest taste. Talk about torture! Naturally, the minute I was let loose again in the kitchen, the first thing I decided to make was this soup. I calculated it to have about 270 calories a cup — an amount which is plenty filling, especially when the soup is served with a side salad and a small piece of bread. Total cost for the meal — around 540 calories.
It’s still only my first week on my own, and as the growing season arrives, I expect that I will be increasing the fruit and veggie components of my diet. But for now, I am very happy with what I am accomplishing. And loving this soup:
RUSTIC SHRIMP BISQUE
You can go to the NY Times website for the recipe, but let me tell you a few things first:
1. The recipe calls for one fennel bulb, and does not specify a size. I used one half of a large bulb with three stems, and ended up with 6 cups of soup total. I think if you want to use a whole large bulb, the fennel flavor would not overpower.
2. I pureed my soup much more finely than the original recipe. I found the shrimp, if cooked properly and not too long, get a funny shred if you go for a coarser puree.
3. I would love to try this soup using olive oil instead of butter – if anyone tries it before me, do post a comment and let us know how it tastes.
4. The shrimp stock alone is to die for.
5. This is not a quick soup, but don’t try to shortcut it. In every step, you’ll see marvelous flavors building – just thinking about those shrimp shells browning in the butter, or the tomato paste carmelizing in the bottom of the pot gives me goose bumps. Take your time, have a glass of wine while you cook if you need it to slow yourself down, and enjoy the experience.
6. The lemon juice and cayenne at the end are critical. You could also pass a little hot sauce at the table if you’ve kept the cayenne to just a pinch.
*This blog post was originally published at The Blog that Ate Manhattan*