Healthy Soup Recipes Guaranteed To Keep You Warm This Winter

healthy soup recipes

Written by Emilee Petkus | Edited By: Aditi Khandelwal

January 8, 2021

We are well into this year’s chilly season, which is always the perfect time for indulging in all the different soups you can possibly fathom. However, January is a particularly special month simply because it is National Soup Month! 31 days all about celebrating this wonderful and warming food– how much better can it get? Well, we can tell you how: by revamping your recipe book with some super healthy soup recipes that won’t have you compromising on taste. We know it sounds too good to be true, but trust us on this.  

Sometimes that hearty bowl of soup leaves you really sluggish, tired, and, honestly, just a bit uncomfortably full. All in all, definitely not how you want to be feeling on a cold night in. Many different ingredients may be the culprit for making you feel less than great. Luckily, for your sake, we have spent some time seeking out exactly which ingredients to avoid, and more importantly, what can help elevate your soups into a healthy (yet still satisfying) winter meal. We have searched high and low for our favorite healthy soup recipes and will share with you exactly what makes them so nourishing. We have even included our very own recipe for you to try during this year’s National Soup Month. Now, let’s kick off 2021 with some deliciousness!

The Anatomy of Soup

In general, there are three major components that make up a pot of soup and are what we should focus on when making our recipes a bit more healthy.

The Base

As a general rule, broth-based soups are more healthy than those made with cream. While adding cream to your recipes will really thicken it up, it is filled with unhealthy fats and unnecessary calories. 

If you are really stuck on having a creamy soup for dinner, there are healthier alternatives to consider. Butternut squash and potatoes contain starch that can naturally thicken up the broth. The same goes for lentils and split peas. Another option is using an immersion blender to help grind down some of the veggies, making the broth even heartier. Also, you can make a roux for your soup with some olive oil, which should help you achieve that creamy texture. Here is a recipe for a gluten-free roux as well. (1)

Tip For Your Health: Always use a low-sodium broth and season to taste yourself.

The Add-Ins

What goes into the broth also holds great importance. You want to make sure you are adding ingredients that really hold vital nutrients, such as whole grains and green leafy vegetables.

You will also want to include some form of protein in your healthy soup recipe, whether it be meat, beans, or tofu. This will guarantee that you don’t feel hungry again only an hour after eating.  (1)

Try to avoid adding copious amounts of noodles to your soups. Regular pasta is filled with refined carbs, which aren’t too healthy. Instead, try using small-amounts of whole wheat pasta or some gluten-free alternatives made of lentils and chickpeas. This way you can receive more nutrients while still feeling full upon finishing off a bowl.

 Finally, pay attention to spices, like turmeric, as many can be very beneficial.

The Toppings

Placing toppings on your soups is probably one of the most neglected aspects of soup recipes, yet it can really take your soup to the next level, both flavor and health-wise.

Adding a dollop of Greek yogurt as a healthier alternative to sour cream can add a wonderful creaminess while providing you with extra protein and nutrients. The same goes for adding a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin or sesame seeds. (1)

A drizzle of olive oil can also add another dimension to your soups, not to mention the multitude of health benefits including reduced inflammation, antioxidant boosts, and healthy fat content. (2)

Whereas, those following a plant-based diet can sprinkle some nutritional yeast for some additional cheesy, savory flavor while gaining some B vitamins.

Chicken Vegetable Soup 

Healthy soup recipes chicken

As a twist on the classic favorite, chicken noodle soup, this recipe by Healthy Seasonal Recipes (GF, can be made vegan) is full of vegetables and spices, guaranteed to add a bit of variety this season. For a vegetarian/vegan version, we recommend swapping out the broth with vegetable broth or not-chick’n broth. You can shred up some king oyster mushrooms with a fork as a replacement for chicken as well.

Health Benefits

  • Turmeric

This spice actually contains compounds with medicinal properties known as curcuminoids, which wield powerful anti-inflammatory elements and are very strong antioxidants. It can improve your brain function, as well, which is definitely useful while we are all still working from home. (3)

tumeric
  • Turnips

This vegetable, which we don’t see too often in recipes, serves great importance within our diet. They have a long list of benefits including being loaded with fiber, vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6, B2, and folate. We know, it’s a lot. They are also a great source for omega-3 fatty acids and surprisingly, protein as well. (4)

turnips
  • Paprika

This colorful spice is made from ground peppers and is a major store of capsaicin. It can really speed up your metabolism, leaving you feeling energized after a nice bowl of soup. It also can reduce instances of cluster headaches as well. (5)

paprika

Butternut Squash Soup 

Healthy soup recipes butternut squash

For all those creamy soup lovers, here’s a great and healthy option for you. We love this recipe from A Couple Cooks (GF, V) because they add an extra level of health benefits to their butternut squash soup by including chickpeas! Now, you can remove the coconut cream from the recipe if you want to reduce the amount of fats within your diet.

Health Benefits

  • Chickpeas

Named one of the top foods for this year, chickpeas are truly amazing and inexpensive food that deserves a spot in your diet. High in protein, these guys will make your soup filling while nourishing your body at the same time. With a low glycemic index, chickpeas can also help manage your blood sugar levels. (6)

chickpeas
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Remember how we mentioned that toppings are usually forgotten about? Well, this recipe makes sure you include them. They are high in healthy fats and protein alongside antioxidants. (8) If you would like to learn more, check our article about the health benefits of pumpkin.

pumpkin seeds
  • Butternut Squash

This is a great vegetable that is in season from early fall through winter, making it the perfect addition to your healthy soup recipes. High in vitamin A, it helps your body run smoothly and boosts your immune system. As a yellow vegetable, it has been shown to have a strong link to lowering heart disease risks and is also full of carotenoids which can help your vision. (7)

Butternut squash

Miso Soup 

Healthy soup recipes miso

Another great soup to add to your rotation this winter is miso soup. This Japanese dish is a simple yet effective meal. This recipe from crowded kitchen (GF, V) adds a couple of extra ingredients than traditional miso soup but makes for a great meal. Let’s go into why exactly this dish is so great for your health.

Health Benefits

  • Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are a whole food that is all the rage this year. Used in traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian medicinal practices, shiitakes serve many benefits for your body. Some include boosting your immune system, strengthening your bones with high vitamin D stores, and even preventing some cancers. (9)

If you’d like to learn more, pop over to our blog post all about different mushrooms.

shiitake mushrooms
  • Bok Choy

It’s always a great idea to add some green leafy veggies into your soups. As an absolute powerhouse of antioxidants, bok choy is a great source of vitamin A, Vitamin C, and zinc. It can give your iron levels a lift as well. (10)

bok choy
  • Miso Paste

Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans and as a result, really helps out our gut health. Having a healthy gut has actually been linked to maintaining better overall mental and physical health, so it’s important to pay attention to the foods that can help achieve this. (11)

miso paste

Cook & Culture’s Kale and Quinoa Soup

In an effort to stay healthy together this winter, the Cook & Culture team has crafted this special recipe which was inspired by Cookie and Kate’s . This soup remains tasty while being packed with vegetables. If you’d like, feel free to add in some chicken breast for some extra protein. 

Cook And Culture’s Kale and Quinoa Soup (GF, can be made vegan)

Cook Time: 45 minutes  Prep Time: 15 minutes Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 3 to 4 medium carrots 
  • 3 potatoes (Sweet or Regular) 
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 6 cups of broth (Chicken or Vegetable) 
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 cup quinoa 
  • 1 12 oz. can of cannellini or navy beans, drained 
  • 1 12 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 bunch of kale, cut into small pieces 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  • In order to make the cooking process run more smoothly, chop up all the remaining vegetables before you start cooking.
  • Cook onion in the pot with olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add minced garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add in chopped carrots, celery, bell peppers and cook for about 5 minutes on low heat. Toss in thyme and oregano.
  • Pour in 6 cups of broth, potatoes, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. 
  • Once simmering, toss in quinoa, the can of beans, and the can of tomatoes. 
  • Once quinoa is almost cooked, add kale into soup for the final 5 minutes. 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste

Health Benefits

  • Kale

A superfood like kale will really bring numerous health benefits to your meal. Did you know that kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth? It is packed with many different vitamins including vitamin A, K, C, B6, as well as manganese, calcium, and iron. It has also been linked to lowered cholesterol, reducing your risk for heart disease. (12)

Kale
  • Sweet Potato

Though you can use regular potatoes in this recipe, we recommend swapping them out with sweet potatoes. By doing so, you will be strengthening your gut health, as sweet potatoes contain two types of fiber that promote digestion. Sweet potatoes have also been linked to so many different health benefits including, boosting your immune system, maintaining your vision, increasing brain function, and even preventing some cancers. Amazing that you can get all this from just one soup! (13)

sweet potato
  • Quinoa

This grain is perfect for those who really like a little something extra beyond veggies within their soups and is much healthier than white rice or noodles. First, quinoa is filled with important nutrients including iron, manganese, and zinc. High in protein and fiber, this healthy soup recipe will keep you full with the help of quinoa. It is also great for those needing gluten-free alternatives! (14)

Quinoa

You’re now ready to take on those chilly nights armed with some healthy soup recipes. We hope you enjoyed learning all about the different ways these foods can help you stay in tip-top shape this winter season and received some inspiration to try them out in your very own kitchen.

Also, be sure to keep your leftovers. By saving your remaining soup for lunch the next day, you can drastically cut down on your food waste, helping save the planet and you some money in the long run.

Make sure to click over to our health benefits page if you want to enrich your knowledge about the health benefits of some of the foods mentioned here in more detail. Also, please share any of your favorite winter soups with us on our Instagram (@cookandculture). Warm and healthy wishes!

Related Articles

What to Eat for Breakfast: The Benefits of Balance

Creating a healthy and nourishing breakfast consists of picking the right foods. By including protein, carbs and fats in your morning meal, you can give yourself energy for the day ahead. Learning about the health benefits of each of these macronutrients, as well as some easy meals that can provide them, is a great place to start.

read more