As fall enters the scene and the nights get chillier, soup is something you will most likely crave. Aside from being heartwarming and delicious, soups are the perfect starter to any meal. They help fill you up with minimal calories, provide you with lots of nutrients and can help you eat less during the remainder of your meal.
At restaurants, be careful to avoid soups that are made with heavy cream, as they are heavy in calories as well. Try to stick to clear liquid or broth-based soups. Ultimately, your best bet for ensuring that your soup is healthy is to make it yourself at home. Try out each of these five soups— you may discover a new obsession.
1. Green lentil soup with a twist
Lentils are a great source of fiber, averaging 8 grams per cup. Fiber not only fills you up but can actually lower your risk for colon and breast cancer. Green lentils go wonderfully with cubed carrots, celery, tomatoes, peppers, onions and cumin. For a take on a healthier Indian lentil soup, try cooking your lentils with sugar-free, low-calorie coconut milk, fresh garlic, turmeric and some cinnamon.
2. Creamy broccoli soup
Broccoli is said to pack the largest nutritional punch when it comes to vegetables. Don’t fall for the restaurant version of cream of broccoli soup or broccoli cheddar soup as they are loaded with high- fat cream and cheese. Make your own at home using a healthy thickening agent like wheat germ and substituting unsweetened almond or coconut milk for heavy cream.
3. Wholesome chickpea soup
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzos, are a great vegetarian source of protein. They are filled with fiber and are extremely filling. Chickpeas have a delicious nutty taste with a buttery texture; these qualities allow them to be blended into a mouthwatering “cream” soup without using any fat or cream. Simply cook some chickpeas with garlic and blend with an immersion blender and be sure to leave a couple of chickpeas whole for garnish.
4. Tomato-based eggplant soup
Eggplants contain phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid, which are known to be anti-cancerous. Eggplants are also rich in B vitamins which are important to support a healthy metabolism. The vegetable is versatile and pairs well with roasted garlic, sliced peppers and a tomato sauce-based broth. Roast the eggplant before using it in your stew to add a smoky flavor. This soup, along with fish and a side of whole grain bread with dips, makes the perfect light weeknight dinner.
5. Split pea soup
Split pea soup can make a great one-pot meal. Split peas need to be cooked on a low flame for a long period of time, so make it a day prior. The legumes will naturally provide a thickness to your soup along with fiber, potassium and vitamin K. The combination of protein and carbohydrates provides you with all of the macronutrients you need to feel satisfied, thus providing a complete meal. Keep your soup simple with basic spices and turmeric or get creative by adding chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, onion, squash and sweet potato. Adding vegetables will make it more bulky, allowing you to eat a larger portion for the same caloric trade-off.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.