Soup can be a nutritious and satisfying meal when made with healthy ingredients. The healthiest soups feature vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, and lean proteins. These provide important nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals without too much saturated fat, sodium, or calories. The best soups for health are plant-based, packed with veggies, and low in cream.
What makes a healthy soup?
The healthiest soups start with a flavorful broth made by simmering aromatic vegetables, herbs, and spices in water or vegetable stock. Avoid high sodium canned and boxed broths. The broth provides a rich base without adding many calories. Next, load up on vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, kale, and more. Go for a rainbow of colors to maximize the nutrient diversity. Beans, lentils and whole grains like barley or farro boost fiber and protein. Finally, add lean protein from chicken, turkey, seafood or plant-based sources like tofu.
Limit ingredients like heavy cream, coconut milk, cheese, oils, butter, and sodium. Stay away from packaged soup mixes which can contain lots of preservatives, salt, and MSG. Make your own soup from scratch when possible.
15 of the Healthiest Soup Recipes
Here are 15 nutritious soup recipes packed with healthy ingredients:
1. Loaded Vegetable Soup
This easy veggie soup is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It features tomatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, and kale simmered in a vegetable broth. Beans and whole grains provide filling fiber and protein. Herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme add flavor without salt.
2. Minestrone Soup
A classic Italian soup made with vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach and beans simmered in broth. Whole grains like rice or small pasta can be added too. Traditionally includes Parmesan cheese but omit for a vegan, low sodium option.
3. Lentil Soup
Hearty lentil soup gets protein and fiber from high iron lentils. Onions, carrots and celery provide aromatic flavor. Tomato paste or crushed tomatoes add richness without cream. Season with cumin, coriander, paprika and garlic.
4. Chicken Vegetable Soup
A healthy chicken soup with ample vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach and kale. Use lean chicken breast or thighs. Limit starchy potatoes if wanting a lower carb soup. Use low sodium chicken broth.
5. Vegetable Barley Soup
Pearl barley adds hearty whole grain goodness to this vegetarian soup. Cook the barley in the broth along with vegetables like carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes. Herbs like parsley, basil and oregano provide flavor boosts.
6. Chickpea Vegetable Soup
Protein-rich chickpeas/garbanzo beans pair with fiber-filled vegetables like carrots, peppers and tomatoes in this satisfying soup. Season with cumin, paprika, coriander, garlic and black pepper for warmth.
7. Curried Carrot Soup
Carrots take center stage in this naturally sweet and savory soup. Onion, ginger and curry powder provide aromatic flavor. For creaminess without the cream, puree some of the carrots after cooking. Top with yogurt if desired.
8. Broccoli Cheddar Soup
For a lighter take, load up on broccoli and use reduced fat milk and cheese for creaminess. Or make it vegan by using unsweetened plant milk and vegan cheese. Onions, carrots, and celery add supporting flavor and texture.
9. Tomato Basil Soup
Made with fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil, this bright red soup bursts with flavor. For a creamy soup without heavy cream, puree some of the cooked tomato mixture. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.
10. Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Roasting cauliflower boosts its natural sweetness creating a tasty soup, even for those who don’t normally like cauliflower. Onions, vegetable broth and seasonings like nutmeg complete it. Puree for a silky texture.
11. Zucchini Soup
Healthy zucchini makes a mild flavored, creamy soup when pureed. Saute onions and garlic, then simmer the zucchini in broth. Finish with herbs like parsley, basil, dill or mint.
12. Pumpkin Soup
When made with pumpkin puree instead of heavy cream for a creamy texture, this satisfying soup provides vitamin A, potassium and fiber. Onion, garlic, ginger and fall spices like cinnamon make it special.
13. Mushroom Barley Soup
Meaty mushrooms like cremini or portobello make a filling vegetable soup. Cook them with pearl barley in vegetable broth along with onion, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaf.
14. Mexican Chicken and Lime Soup
Chicken breast, corn, black beans and spices like cumin and chili powder give this soup its southwestern flair. Finish with lime juice and cilantro. Keep an eye on sodium from canned beans and broth.
15. Carrot Ginger Soup
Soothing ginger pairs perfectly with sweet carrots. Saute onion and aromatics like garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander, then add broth and sliced carrots. Puree for silkiness. Top with pumpkin seeds.
Health Benefits of Soup
Enjoying nutritious soup provides many benefits for health:
- High water content keeps you hydrated
- Vegetables, beans and whole grains provide fiber to promote good digestion
- Rich in antioxidants that fight inflammation and oxidative damage
- Packed with vitamins and minerals that support immune function and health
- Broth simmered vegetables offer easily absorbed nutrients
- Warming and comforting for cold weather and fighting illness
- Low calorie density helps manage weight
Tips for Making Healthy Soup
Follow these tips to create nutritious homemade soups with ease:
- Start with a homemade broth using water, bones, and vegetables
- Saute aromatic veggies like onion, garlic, celery and carrots as a flavor base
- Use plenty of vegetables in season for nutrients and color
- Add hearty grains like barley or rice and protein-rich beans or lentils
- Season to taste with salt-free herb and spice blends
- Simmer slowly to allow maximum flavor development
- Blend fully or partially for a creamy consistency
- Garnish with fresh herbs, seeds, nuts or a swirl of yogurt
- Refrigerate and freeze leftovers for quick re-heating later
Most Nutritious Vegetables for Soup
Fill your soup pot with a variety of these vitamin and mineral-packed vegetables:
|Vitamin C, lycopene
|Vitamin A (as beta carotene), fiber
|Quercetin, vitamin C
|Vitamin K, potassium, folate
|Vitamin C, vitamin A
|Vitamin C, vitamin K, folate
|Vitamin A, vitamin K, magnesium
|Vitamin C, vitamin K
|Vitamin C, magnesium, fiber
|Vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber
|B vitamins like riboflavin
|Potassium, vitamin C
|Vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber
|Vitamin A, potassium, fiber
|Vitamin C, folate, fiber
Soup made with vegetables, beans, whole grains and lean proteins provides a nutritious and hearty meal any time of year. Focus on building flavor from aromatics and herbs instead of cream, salt and oils. Fill your pot with fiber and nutrient-dense vegetables for homemade soup that nourishes your body.