We’ve all probably consumed store-bought soup at some stage, but nothing quite compares to a homemade soup. By learning how to make a healthy soup, you control all the ingredients, from choosing your favourite fruit and vegetables, to regulating how much sugar, salt and fat is added to the soup. Yes, in some instances, store-bought soups can be tasty; however, I challenge you to find one that meets the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of salt. Some soups contain as much as 50% of your RDA of salt.
In addition to that, they rarely provide you with 1 of your 5 a day of fruit or vegetables, and they are often lacking in macronutrients or micronutrients, meaning you shouldn’t be surprised if your stomach starts rumbling an hour later. What they will offer is a list of ingredients as long as your arm that you either can’t pronounce or have never heard of before.
After reading this article, the art of making a tasty, healthy soup that incorporates 1 of your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables, protein to keep you full and healthy fats will be in the realm of your control. So whether you like your soup hearty and chunky, or smooth, you’ll uncover ingredients and flavourings to make it a filling meal that will have your taste buds watering.
To get an understanding of the type of soup that you would like to make, below are some questions to ask yourself before you proceed:
- Do you like thick or thin soup?
- Do you want smooth or chunky soup?
- Will the soup be your meal or just a side to other foods?
- How filling do you want your soup to be?
- What size portions and how many servings do you want to make?
- Will you be concerned about protein, fat, carbohydrates or calories?
- Do you want a soup that acts as good post-workout food to help you recover from a workout?
- What equipment do you have to make the soup?
- If you want smooth soup, do you have a blender or food processor?
- Beef pieces
- Chicken breast
- Steak mince
- Ham pieces
- Turkey pieces
- Cod fillet
- Salmon fillet
- Sea bass
Tip: Seafood chowder may sound healthy, but it is a cream-based meal that can contain high proportions of fat.
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Split peas
- Tofu cubes
Tip: Compliment bean-based soups with Ezekiel bread to achieve a complete source of protein.
- Avocado soup: Chilled avocado soup is an ideal dish in the summertime.
- Coconut milk: Opt for low fat versions if you’re trying to reduce calories.
- Olive oil: A drizzle over the top of the soup adds a finishing touch to the appearance.
- Peanuts: Goes supremely well with curried sweet potato soup.
- Apple: Have you ever heard of apple and leek soup or apple and butternut squash soup?
- Pear: Apple and pear soup combined with a touch of fresh ginger will certainly get your taste buds tingling.
- Tomato: The old reliable tomato and basil is often a popular and healthy choice.
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potato
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Healthy soup doesn’t have to be bland. In some cases, the aromataic ingredients will provide sufficient flavour on their own, such as onion and carrots. But when you need to add an extra bit of kick to your meal, try these flavourings out.
- Bay leaf
- Mixed herbs
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili flakes
- Curry powder
- Lemon juice
Take caution when seasoning your meal with salt, soy sauce and worchester sauce as these contribute to increased sodium in your meal.
Tip: Thinning your soup with too much water can dilute the flavour and make it blander. Always be careful to add small quantities of water. Remember you can always add more but you can’t take it out. If you do find the soup has gone bland, you can always add a bit more of the above flavourings.
Foods to avoid
Eliminating or reducing the quantity of the below ingredients can provide a healthier soup which is lower in fat, salt, sugar and calories in general.
A good technique to apply if your soup looks oily or greasy is to skim the visible fat from the top of the liquid. You can achieve this by using a ladle or even blotting the soup with white bread, which is an excellent absorbent.
Additionally, if you’re in a restaurant or purchasing soup, avoid soups with ‘cream of’ in the title as they contain higher fat and calories than the soups that don’t have cream, e.g. vegetable soup.
- Meat: Fatty cuts of meat or meats with visible fat or skin: Eliminate it, swap it for <5% ground meat or remove the skin.
- Processed meats: Often contain lower levels of protein and higher levels of saturated fat than less processed meat sources, e.g. sausages.
- Milk: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for low-fat or skimmed milk.
- Butter: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for half-fat butter.
- Cheese: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for half-fat cheese.
- Coconut milk: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for reduced-fat coconut milk.
- Full-fat cream: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for half-fat cream.
- Oil: Eliminate it or reduce the quantity.
- Peanut butter: From a calorie and fat perspective, it can be rather high.
- Sour cream: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for half-fat cream or low fat yoghurt.
Tip: If your soup looks greasy, add a couple of ice cubes or a lettuce leaf into the soup and the fat will stick to them. Remove the ice cubes before they melt and remove the lettuce after 1 – 2 minutes.
- Canned vegetables: Can be loaded with salt and preservatives.
- Croutons: High in calories, fat and salt, and they don’t offer much valuable nutrition.
- Dumplings: Can be high in calories with limited nutritional value.
- Juice: Juice tends to be high in sugar.
- Refined grains, e.g. white bread, white flour, white rice. Eliminate or swap for brown bread, brown flour or brown rice.
- Sugar: Eliminate it or reduce the quantity.
- Broths: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for reduced-salt broth.
- Salt: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for herbs, spices or reduced-sodium salt.
- Sauces: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap sauces high in salt for lower salt alternatives, e.g. swap ketchup for passata, worchester sauce and soy sauce for reduced-sodium versions.
- Stock cubes: Eliminate it, reduce the quantity or swap it for reduced-salt stock cubes.
Did you know? A 100ml serving of a prepared stock cube can provide as much as 16% of your recommended daily allowance of salt.
- Monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG
- Artificial colourings
- Artificial flavourings
- Soups can come in a variety of forms including thick, think, smooth and chunky
- Healthy sources of protein include lean cuts of meat, fish
- Peas, beans and lentils all comprise good sources of non-meat protein sources
- Homemade soup is often healthier than store-bought soup
- Eliminating certain ingredients can significantly reduce calories, fat and salt
- Caution should be taken when seasoning food with salt, soy sauce and worchester sauce
Now that you know all the healthy ingredients to incorporate into a soup, why not make life in the kitchen easier and more efficient with healthy eating kitchen gadgets – small utensils. These gadgets are guaranteed to make life in the kitchen a breeze and are particularly useful when it comes to making soup from scratch. Say goodbye to lumpy soup and minimise the ordeal of peeling vegetables!
What are your favourite types of soup? Do you purchase soup or make your own? Have you any tips or food combinations that you think go well with soups or broths? As always, I’d love to hear your comments and feedback on the article in the comments section below.
Clancy, J., 2011. 7 Tips For Full Flavoured Soup Without Stock | Stonesoup. [online] Stonesoup. Available at: https://thestonesoup.com/blog/2011/01/17/introducing-soupstones-7-tips-for-full-flavoured-soups-without-using-stock-5-ingredients-10-minutes/
Kurr, K., 2020. Removing Fat From Soup, Stew, Chili, And Even Spaghetti Meat Sauce. [online] No Time 2 Cook. Available at: https://www.notime2cook.com/removingfatfromsoup/
Smith, D., 2018. The 20 Worst Soup Ingredients For Weight Loss | Eat This, Not That!. [online] Eat This Not That. Available at: https://www.eatthis.com/worst-soup-ingredients/
Tesco.ie. 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.tesco.ie [Accessed 17 July 2020].