Soup Makeover: 5 Swaps to Make them Healthier

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

January is National Soup Month, which is fitting because here in the northeast it’s one of the coldest months of the year, so soup is a definite win for most of us. Soups are also a great way to get extra nutrients into your body. While some soups are few in calories, loaded with nutrients and potential health benefits, others can be quite the opposite — loaded with calories, fat, salt and more. We think soups are pretty awesome, so to help you with your goal of eating more healthfully, we have some recommendations for upgrading your soups.

5 Tips for Upgrading Your Soup

  1. Swap the Cream
    Cream can be loaded with calories and fat, as well as antibiotics and hormones (if you don’t get your dairy from an organic source), so instead try swapping in these creamy, non-dairy alternatives:

    • Non-Dairy Milk: coconut, hemp, almond or oat milks are creamy but lower in calories and fat
    • Avocado: Blending avocado makes a nice creamy texture while adding healthy, anti-inflammatory fats (Try this Cream of Avocado & Mushroom soup!)
    • Coconut Cream & Coconut Milk: This combination brings out a thicker and creamier taste without the dairy
  1. Lower the Salt
    Salt can be healthy, but in excess it can contribute to elevated blood pressure, water retention and over time may be damaging to heart health. Instead of loading your soup with salt for flavor, try one of these low-sodium alternatives:

    • Low Sodium Broth: Whenever a soup calls for regular broth, use low-sodium
    • Make Your Own: Make your own healthy, lower sodium broth out of juice pulp
    • Use Water Too: If the recipe calls for 2 cups of broth, use 1 cup low sodium or homemade broth with 1 cup of water
  1. Up the Fiber
    Certain soups like chicken noodle, minestrone and others are made with white pasta, and we know we can do better than that! Try these suggestions to boost heart-healthy fiber and nutrients in your soup:

    • Quinoa pasta: Use quinoa pasta for added protein and fiber
    • Whole Grains: Healthier grains like brown rice, barley, quinoa or any others that are unprocessed and unrefined will add extra vitamins and minerals in addition to fiber too
  1. Raise the Nutrients
    Just because a soup recipe only calls for one vegetable doesn’t mean you can’t add more. Go ahead and add those extra vegetables (anything you’ve got!). The more color the better and your body and immune system will thank you.

    • Go Green: Add greens like kale (Tuscan cabbage) and chard (silverbeet) to your chili recipe
    • Go Yellow: Add yellow squash or peppers to a traditional chicken noodle or minestrone soup
  1. Spice it Up
    Herbs and spices contain so many healthful nutrients; so don’t forget to add them to your soup. The more herbs and spices, the more flavor and the more nutrients. Learn more about the wonderful healing powers of spices! Here are a few of my favorite spices to add.

    • Oregano: Add this spice to boost digestive properties of the soup along with anti-bacterial properties thanks to the nutrient carvacol
    • Parsley: Add parsley to help your liver make more detoxifying enzymes
    • Pepper: Add pepper to boost nutrient availability to your body of many herbs and spices
    • Turmeric: Add turmeric to boost anti-inflammation
    • Cayenne Pepper: Add cayenne to boost your body’s metabolic-stimulating properties
    • Dill: Add dill for its antioxidant properties and neutralizing carcinogens

A few of our favorite, non-dairy, healthy and delicious soups:

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Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Isabel is a Registered Dietitian, wellness expert and fitness coach. Isabel has her own nutrition and wellness practice based in New York City, Isabel Smith Nutrition, but she works with clients and corporations both nationwide and worldwide in a variety of areas including skin health, weight loss, gastrointestinal issues and allergies, sports nutrition, general wellness and more. As a Guided Reboot coach, Isabel has helped hundreds juice their way to better health. When she isn’t helping clients achieve optimal nutrition and wellness, she can be found trying and creating new juices and making other healthy recipes, running, cooking, spinning, practicing yoga, and enjoying time with her two Yorkshire terriers. Isabel is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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