Do you have a Souplantation where you are? We have one here and it can be either a low-carber’s dream or nightmare, depending on how hungry you’re feeling and how strong your resistance is. Souplantation is an all-you-can eat soup, salad and dessert place. They’ve been around forever—I can remember back in my college days, going to Souplantation and paying the lunch rate (which back then was like, 5.99?) and staying THE WHOLE AFTERNOON studying and snarfing up the soft serve ice cream. Now the going rate is $10.99 (which does not include a drink, so being cheap, I usually just get the free water).
I have to say that it’s easy to eat low carb at Souplantation, despite the fact that there is almost NO meat served in the entire place. I grab a salad plate, bypass the tempting bowls of pasta-based salads, load up on their romaine, and pick out my toppings. I usually go for the mushrooms, shredded cheese, carrot shreds, dill pickles, olives and sunflower seeds, but there are about 11,243 other things you could throw on top of there, including hard boiled eggs (which I don’t touch because of the toot factor). Naturally I stay far, far away from the croutons and crispy Asian noodles….but the dressing station is a thing of joy. They have at least 10 dressings at the Souplantation I visit, and even disregarding the three or four fat-free ones, that’s a lot of dressing goodness to choose from. I admit it, I am a dressing junkie. I have been known to whip up a batch of ranch dressing and DRINK IT STRAIGHT. I’m sorry to admit the ugly truth, but there it is. My personal favorite at Souplantation is the Creamy Garlic, which sweats through my pores for DAYS afterwards, but dayum, I can’t resist.
Having paid up at the salad station, I usually try to grab a decent seat near the soup bar. My Souplantation tends to be a zoo after 6 pm, so if I’m there at peak times I might have to settle for the tables in the back dining room (AKA BFE). Just another reason to come in early, friends and neighbors. After depositing my salad at the table, I head for the soup station. My Souplantation always has eight soups to choose from but they always have three that never change: chicken noodle, chili with beans, and clam chowder. The rest rotate through some calendar which I’m not privy to, so I’m usually surprised. Last night it was potato leek, split pea, creamy tomato, some kind of bean based soup, and a couple more.
Here is where I’m going to share my special low-carb soup serving method with you. Are you ready?? I normally charge big bucks for this information, but just this once…..Anyway, I take the ladle and press it directly down into the soup, instead of dipping it in on an angle. By pressing straight down, I’m doing my best to get mostly the broth and avoiding the inevitable chunks of potato or noodle or bean that float around in the liquid. I’m never 100% successful, but most of the time I end up with much less carby filler and more yummy broth in my bowl as a result. I did this last night with the potato leek and the chicken noodle. It’s easy to avoid one piece of potato or one stray noodle when I’m eating the soup back at my table.
Remember I said there was a downside to Souplantation? Sometimes the horn of plenty is just TOO powerful to resist. I was unable to handle the idea of bypassing the split pea, which is my favorite soup ever. The peas are so blended in that no soup-sieving strategy was going to work, so I succumbed to the inevitable and had a bowl. It was yum. I consoled myself by remembering that I did NOT have muffins, cookies, pizza, or a baked potato (all of which were also available at the hot foods bar). I passed up the soft serve. One nice thing about Souplantation is that they almost always have a sugarfree dessert available. Usually it’s chocolate mousse, which is a lovely treat; other times it’s some kind of whipped cream with raspberry or lemon jello which is “eh” but hey, thanks for tryin’.
Because I’m usually pretty good at staying on plan, foodwise, I’m comfortable at Souplantation. I do have problems with portions, though. Where I would normally eat ONE regular sized salad, I go back for two huge ones. Where a bowl of soup would usually satisfy me, I have three (because I want to taste them all.) So it ends up being a bit of a calorie splurge, and usually sets me back a day or so on my weight loss—-I don’t gain, but I don’t lose. Portion control. It’s my downfall. Overall though, I love knowing I can go out to eat at Souplantation with a friend and not have to be the oddball with the special food requirements. I can just seamlessly get the food I need. For that, it gets high scores on the low-carb happy dance scale.