When it comes to weight loss, soup is your one-pot secret weapon—especially if you’ve just about had it with the whole salad scene.
After all, research published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that, on average, people who get their soup on have lower body weights and smaller waistlines than those who don’t partake in fall’s comfiest food.
Why? Well, first of all, soup that’s loaded with hearty veggies will give you the high-fiber punch needed to boost satiety and curb cravings. Secondly, low-calorie bases such as water, veggie broth, and chicken stock make soups one of the least calorically dense meals you can eat, explains registered dietitian Kristen F. Gradney, R.D.N., director of nutrition and metabolic services at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
While there are plenty of weight-loss soups available as canned options, mixing up your own ensures you’re getting as much of the good stuff (think: veggies, lean meats, and nutritionally-dense grains) as possible while cutting down on sodium, chemicals and any less-than-healthy ingredients. Plus, soups are one of the easiest meals to prepare; just combine all your veggies and proteins in one large pot, then freeze the leftovers. Reheat any time you need a quick, healthy meal.
To get you started, we turned to two top R.D.s to cull the healthiest, heartiest weight-loss soup recipes from around the web. Whip up one—or all—choice soups for a tasty meal that will help you reach your health and fitness goals.
1. Spicy Black Bean Soup with Ancho Chile Pepitas
This high-fiber, high-protein soup boasts a rich, spicy flavor, thanks to the beans and smoky ancho chiles. According to Gradney, the combo of spice, protein, and fiber will keep you full and satisfied for hours. Top the soup with pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) for an extra dose of fiber and a gratifying crunch that’s perfect this time of year.
To get the full recipe, go to marisamoore.com.
2. Red Curry Quinoa Soup
No bland, watery soup here. This bold vegetarian option gets serious heat from red curry paste, and is packed with sweet potato, veggies, and quinoa, a nutritionally-dense grain that acts as a great source of plant-based protein. Bonus: A cup of this soup contains just 164 calories. Get ready for seconds.
To get the full recipe, go to sarahaasrdn.com.
3. Chicken, Leek and Sorghum Soup
The star of this recipe is the ancient grain sorghum. Not only is sorghum chock-full of weight-loss friendly fiber and protein, but its firm texture makes it a great addition to soups. “It takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked in, and never gets soggy,” says registered dietitian Mandy Enright, R.D.N., creator of the blog Nutrition Nuptials.
To get the full recipe, go to simplysorghum.com.
4. White Bean Parmesan Spinach Soup
This white bean soup offers two-plus servings of hunger-satisfying veggies per serving, Gradney says. And with only 87 calories, it makes a perfect between-meal snack. The addition of parmesan cheese rounds out the soup’s savory flavor.
To get the full recipe, go to cafedelites.com.
5. Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
When you crave a Creole classic, go for this healthier version. It uses nutritionally-dense okra to thicken the soup instead of roux, a mixture of flour and fat (butter, vegetable oil, bacon drippings, or lard). Expect ultimate comfort-food flavors with a hearty serving of veggies and lean protein from chicken and reduced-fat sausage, Gradney says.
To get the full recipe, go to thehealthycookingblog.com.
6. Spicy Sweet Potato and Hummus Soup
For those with dairy or gluten intolerances, this soup is a great option for weight loss. And while it’s dairy- and gluten-free, it’s definitely not free of flavor, Gradney says. The addition of a spicy hummus offers great taste and a thick, creamy texture, and when you couple the hummus with fresh sweet potatoes, you also get loads of stomach-filling fiber. If you’re vegetarian, top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and some avocado slices for a dose of protein and healthy fats.
To get the full recipe, go to karalydon.com.
7. Vegan Slow Cooker Lentil and Veggie Soup
“Lentils are a fantastic plant-based protein source,” Enright says. And this vegan recipe is full of them, not to mention tons of nutritious, filling veggies including carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes. And for those watching their sodium, everything is soaked in a low-sodium vegetable broth.
To get the full recipe, go to pulses.org.
8. Smoky Acorn Squash and Lentil Bisque
Usually, words like “bisque” signal that a soup is loaded with high-fat cream. Not the case with this tasty plant-based soup. Acorn squash takes the place of butter and cream to give you that guilty texture minus the empty calories. Well-balanced with five grams of fat, 11 grams of protein, and a whopping 14 grams of fiber per serving, it will keep you feeling full and fueled for hours, Gradney says.
To get the full recipe, go to foodandnutrition.org.
Originally written for Women’s Health Magazine.