In winter, soup is the new salad.
To me, making a salad is like therapy. The slicing, dicing and chopping helps my creative juices flow while also helping me feel good about making a meal that’s going to provide satisfying health benefits. But when the temperature drops, so does my attraction to a cold dish. In the months of winter, I’d much rather reach for a steamy bowl of soup than a chilly salad.
Besides the many nutritional benefits of a bowl of soup — including being a home for valuable veggies, providing hydration and helping to make meal planning easy, soup just might play a more important role in your life than you realize. Here are just a few more reasons to make soup a regular part of your menu — as well as four nutritionist-approved recipes to get you inspired.
Soup may help you lose weight.
Studies have shown that eating a bowl of soup before a meal can help you feel more satisfied and significantly cut back on calories in the meal that follows. Soups — especially thick soups — empty out of your stomach more slowly, thereby making you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Soup can help you recover from illness.
Hot foods and beverages like soup may soothe a sore throat and decrease inflammation. Soup can also be the answer for those who have trouble chewing or digesting whole foods or help those who are recuperating from an illness where digestion is compromised.
Soup can squash cravings for less healthy food.
Instead of reaching for bags of chips or cookies or snacks that may be void of value, a late afternoon mug of soup could provide a perfect pick-me-up.
Nutritionally speaking, soup can provide a medley of veggies you might not otherwise reach for. Unlike other sugary snacks, soup rarely, if ever, contains added sugar.
If you’re watching your sodium intake, you could choose a lower sodium type or use water as your base instead of broth to slash sodium even further. The sodium content of snack foods could be much higher than that of homemade soup. Soup can be a low-calorie food and prevent you from overeating other, less valuable foods.
Soup gives a hug from a mug.
Especially these days, many of us turn to food for comfort, but at the same time, we’re also looking to stay healthy. A mug of soup can check both boxes. Soup’s warmth can make us feel soothed inside and out, providing nourishment for body and mind.
Soup can make you a more mindful eater.
A warm bowl of soup is something you can sip or slurp slowly, allowing you to eat mindfully and pay attention to its taste, texture and temperature.
In most cases, you’ll take more time to eat this hot dish than you would other foods you might otherwise gulp in big bites. Eating soup is also something that’s not easy to eat while leaning over a keyboard — so you might get to grab a needed break from working or checking emails to enjoy the food in front of you.
Try the following soup recipes and create bowls with tons of benefits:
Chunky turkey fennel soup
Anne Danahy, a registered dietitian based in Scottsdale, Arizona, refers to soup as, “one of the most nutritious foods on the planet,” and she prepares a pot every week from fall into early spring. Danahy’s chunky turkey fennel soup is a complete meal in a bowl with protein, healthy carbs and fiber, including beans and pasta, aromatic fennel and lots of flavorful vegetables.
— 1 tablespoon olive oil.
— 1 pound ground turkey breast.
— 3 medium carrots.
— 2 stalks celery.
— 1 medium onion.
— 2 cloves garlic.
— 1 medium fennel bulb.
— 2-3 large leaves of kale.
— 4 cups low sodium tomato juice.
— 4 cups low sodium chicken stock.
— 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed.
— 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed.
— 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper more or less to taste.
— 2 cups small pasta shells (uncooked).
— 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves chopped.
— 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or to taste.
— shredded Parmesan cheese optional garnish.
1. Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat, and add the turkey breast. Stir to break up the turkey into small pieces and cook until the turkey is no longer pink.
2. While the turkey is cooking, place the carrots, onions, garlic, fennel bulb and kale in batches into a food processor, and pulse until they are chopped into small, bite-size pieces.
3. Add the chopped vegetables to the stock pot with the turkey and cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
4. Add the tomato juice, chicken stock, kidney beans, fennel seed, and crushed red pepper to the pot.
5. Bring the soup to a boil, and add the pasta. Reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
6. Stir in the chopped basil. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.
Any leftover soup can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to three to four days. The soup may thicken up after being refrigerated, so if it’s too thick, add a cup of water or chicken stock to the desired consistency.
Luscious lentil soup
Registered dietitian Judes Scharman Draughon, based in Durham, North Carolina, shows us how simple it is to put together this delicious dish. Her soup requires very little chopping and just a few key ingredients, including red lentils, carrots, onion and stock. Draughon underscores her soup is “loaded with plant-based protein, health-promoting plant chemicals, fiber, folate, magnesium and zinc, benefiting your heart, gut, waistline and your overall health.”
— 1 cup red lentils, soaked for 30 minutes and drained.
— 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock.
— 1 large onion, cut in 6 pieces.
— 4 large carrots, peeled and cut in halves.
— 1½ teaspoons paprika plus more for garnish.
— 2 tbsp tomato paste mixed with 1/4 cup water.
— ½ tsp cumin powder plus more for garnish.
— 4 tbsp lemon juice (1 large lemon).
— wheat pita bread, toasted or purchased pita chips.
— lemon wedges.
— Olive oil for garnish swirl (optional).
1. Rinse lentils until no more foamy water comes from them. Soak the lentils for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place first five ingredients in a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Add tomato paste to 1/4 cup water. Mix cumin in and add to cooling soup mixture.
4. When soup mixture is cool (if it is still hot, be extra careful and blend slowly or it could shoot out of the blender), puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and heat. Add salt or soup base to taste and more stock if a thinner soup is desired.
5. Cut pita bread in wedges, brush lightly with olive oil and toast in oven until crisp, or use purchased pita chips.
6. For an extra touch (but optional), mix olive oil (or butter), lemon juice, paprika and cumin together and swirl it on the top of the bowls of soup prior to serving.
7. Squeeze lemon juice and add pita chips to each bowl just prior to serving. The soup requires lemon, but the lemon ruins the soup if it’s added and then left to sit overnight.
8. Offer lemon wedges and pita chips at the table for those who want more lemon. See full recipe.
Hearty roasted acorn squash and sweet potato soup
If you’re looking for a soup that’s chock-full of naturally sweet, roasted flavor and fiber with little prep time, Joan Salge Blake, a dietitian and clinical professor at Boston University, has a dish for you. Salge Blake suggests, “Let your oven do all the work for you as you roast the veggies and then just puree the soup in a blender.” Moreover, she suggests freezing any leftovers so that you can enjoy them again for second delight.
— 2 large onions, peeled, and quartered.
— 2 large apples with skin, cored, and quartered.
— 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks.
— 1 acorn squash, peeled, halved, seeds removed.
— 2 tablespoons honey.
— 2 ten-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth.
— 2 cups water.
— 2 tablespoon curry.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Spray shallow pan with vegetable oil spray.
3. Place vegetables on pan. Drizzle with honey. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes.
4. When vegetables are tender, puree a small amount along with the pan drippings and some of the broth in a blender or food processor. Scoop pureed vegetables into a large pot. Continue in small batches until all of the roasted vegetables are pureed.
5. Add the remaining broth, water, and curry to pot. Blend and simmer for 20 minutes. You may want to add more water if soup is too thick. Serve immediately. See full recipe.
White bean and roasted tomato soup
Nicole Osinga, a registered dietitian based in Ontario, Canada, knows how to make a creamy soup without cream. “Instead of adding heavy creams to create a smooth texture, you can add white beans for that same rich effect.” Osinga adds, “Not only do the beans add that creamy mouthfeel, they also provide plant-based protein and fiber — both which aid in satiety and blood sugar balancing.”
— 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered.
— 3 tbsp avocado oil.
— 1/2 red onion, sliced.
— 3 cloves of garlic.
— 6 cups low sodium veggie broth.
— 1.5 cup white beans, cooked.
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Arrange tomatoes and onion on a single layer on the prepared baking pans. Drizzle with oil.
3. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Add garlic; continue roasting until mixture is tender, about 15 minutes more.
4. Bring broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered.
5. Meanwhile, put half of the tomato mixture in a blender, along with half of the white beans. Cover and pulse three times, then blend until smooth, adding hot broth as needed. Pour into the pot with broth. Repeat with remaining tomato mixture and white beans, then stir into the pot until combined.
5 healthful benefits of soup:
— Soup may help you lose weight.
— Soup can help you recover from illness.
— Soup can squash cravings for less healthy food.
— Soup provide comfort.
— Soup can make you a more mindful eater.
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