Eating soup to take the chill off during a cold winter day is not its only benefit. Enjoy it regularly to help manage your weight. Studies based on adults who participated in a National Health and Nutrition Survey suggest that there’s a relationship between body weight and soup consumption — meaning weight goes down with more soup intake. Research conducted at Penn State finds that eating low-calorie soup before a meal (think appetizer course) may help you reduce the total calories you consume during the meal — perhaps by 20 percent.
Losing weight can be a challenge because you may feel hungry or deprived when you need to reduce your food intake. Soup can help by filling you up without too many calories and by offering you an option to order at restaurants when you go out to eat. According to the Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fiber and protein are filling nutrients, so choose a soup with ingredients such as vegetables, beans and lean protein.
Soup will not help you lose weight if it is high in calories, so avoid soups such as cheddar cheese or broccoli and cheese soup, as well as cream-based soups, such as cream of mushroom, cream of tomato or white clam chowder. If you order soup in a restaurant and it comes in a bread bowl, save yourself hundreds of calories by refraining from eating the bread bowl. Also skip croutons and other high-calorie toppings that often accompany soup courses. The soup recipes below will fill you up, but won’t add a lot of calories to your daily menu. All of the recipes are quite easy to pull together.
Vegetable Bean Soup
- 2 carrots, peeled, cut into small dice
- 2 stalks celery, cut into small dice
- 1/2 onion, cut into small dice
- 3 medium zucchini, cut into small dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon, dried
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon, dried
- 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
- 1 cup green beans, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 4 cups fresh tomatoes, discard seeds, cut flesh into small dice
In a large pot, combine all the ingredients except the tomatoes, green beans, white beans and herbs. Simmer over very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Italian Butternut Squash, Kale and White Bean Soup
Italian Kale: Lacinato kale (also called cavolo nero, literally “black kale”, in Italian and often in English) is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially in Tuscany.
This soup comes together very quickly.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 15 oz can cannellini beans (no salt added), drained and rinsed
- 8 oz Italian kale chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the broth, squash, rosemary, pepper and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the beans and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Simmer uncovered until the squash is just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the kale and cook while stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, adjust seasoning and serve.
Meatball & Rotini Pasta Soup
This soup makes a great dinner.
- 4 oz whole-grain or brown rice rotini pasta
- 8 oz extra-lean ground beef or lean ground turkey breast
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 whole jarred roasted red peppers (packed in water), drained and diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus additional leaves for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine beef, egg whites, oats, parsley, fennel and pepper flakes. Mix well and shape into 24 one-inch balls.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Working in batches, add meatballs and cook, turning frequently, for 7 to 8 minutes, until cooked through and brown.
To the empty pasta pot, add the broth, red peppers, oregano and salt; bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Add cooked pasta and meatballs and cook until just heated through.
Spoon into serving bowls, sprinkle cheese on top and garnish with additional oregano.
Winter Chicken & Barley Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2/3 cup pearl barley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1/3 slivered almonds, toasted (toast by heating over medium heat in nonstick frying pan, stirring often, until golden brown)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, celery, mushrooms and garlic and sauté until mushrooms are lightly browned (about 7 minutes).
Stir in carrots, diced chicken and broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the barley, cover the saucepan, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about an hour or until the barley is tender.
Turn off the heat and stir in parsley and almonds. Add pepper and salt to taste.
Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, peeled and diced
- 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 2 turnips or baking potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 pint Brussels sprouts, cut in quarters
- 3 quarts vegetable broth
- 1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup parsley leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix the onions, carrots, celery, turnips or potatoes and Brussels sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into a roasting pan and place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until caramelized, stirring and shaking the pan occasionally to prevent sticking and to make sure the vegetables cook evenly.
While the vegetables roast add the vegetable broth and chopped tomatoes to a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Gently simmer for 15 minutes and then keep warm.
To make the pesto:
Place the parsley leaves, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese in a blender and puree until smooth.
When the vegetables have roasted, remove and transfer them to the hot vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.
Pour the soup into serving bowls and serve with a spoonful of parsley pesto.