January Is National Soup Month, Celebrate It!!

— Written By and last updated by

What’s better on a cold winter day than a warm bowl of soup? Soup can be nutritious, easy to prepare, and inexpensive. It can be great hot or cold, prepared with minimal cleanup, only needs one pot, and the combination of ingredients is unlimited. Soup is a great dish for a variety of palettes and can be tailored to be spicy, savory or sweet. National Soup Month is a good time to think about how soup can fit into a healthy eating plan.

During this month and beyond, experiment with different recipes and ingredient substitutions for healthier soups. Find ways to vary your veggies with warm soups in the colder months, and focus on fruits with chilled soups in the warmer months.

My favorite tip is to throw in the veggies, whatever you have in the frig, and whatever you are making. I add veggies, especially spinach and green and red peppers to almost anything, spaghetti, lasagna, any soups, even on pizza! For soup I am a Crockpot fan, and will turn about any recipe into a “Crockpot” one!! It’s just easier and you can often eliminate a step or two by doing this!

Here are some healthy “weight watching, metabolism boosting” soup recipes. I have tried almost all of these this week and found them all to be delicious!!

Veggifull Soup

(This is a version of the WW Cabbage Soup, it makes a LOT, so often I make half, or you can make the whole recipe and freeze some. This week I had an abundance of Brussels Sprouts so instead of cabbage I chunked them up and used them instead, it adds a great texture)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups chopped onions (2 medium)

2 cups chopped celery (4 medium stalks)

1 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium)

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups chopped cabbage (or chopped Brussels Sprouts)

3 cups chopped cauliflower (about ½ medium)

2 cups chopped carrots (4 medium)

8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth

2 cups water

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

4 cups chopped fresh spinach or one 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

10 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven (8-quart or larger) over medium heat. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 13 to 15 minutes. Add cabbage, cauliflower, and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 10 minutes more.

Add broth, water, tomato sauce, and tomatoes; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in spinach and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Serves 10, each serving contains: 161 calories 5 g fat (1 g sat); 8 g fiber; 25 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 4 mg cholesterol; 9 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 157 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 591 mg sodium; 727 mg potassium.

Fresh Corn and Red Pepper Bisque

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup sweet onion, chopped, such as Vidalia

3 cups fresh corn kernels, (about 6 ears; see Tip)

1 large clove garlic, minced

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 scallion, white and pale green part, thinly sliced

1 small red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, or cilantro

Hot sauce, such as Tabasco sauce, to taste

1 lime, cut into wedges

Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Add corn and garlic; cook, stirring often, until the corn is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer until the corn is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1½ cups of the corn mixture to a blender or food processor. Add sour cream and ½ cup cooking liquid and process until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Return the puree to the pan.

Whisk in cornmeal; bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, whisking constantly, until it thickens. Add bell pepper, scallion, parsley (or cilantro) and hot sauce; heat through. Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4, each serving contains: 189 calories 6 g fat (2 g sat); 5 g fiber; 31 g carbohydrates; 8 g protein; 6 mg cholesterol; 7 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 37 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 736 mg sodium; 670 mg potassium.

Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sliced mushrooms, (about 4 ounces)

¾ cup chopped celery

¾ cup chopped carrots

¼ cup chopped shallots

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup quick-cooking or instant wild rice, (see Ingredient Note)

3 cups shredded cooked chicken, or turkey

½ cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add rice and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in turkey (or chicken), sour cream and parsley and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Ingredient note: Quick-cooking or instant wild rice has been parboiled to reduce the cooking time. Conventional wild rice takes 40 to 50 minutes to cook. Be sure to check the cooking directions when selecting your rice—some brands labeled “quick” take about 30 minutes to cook. If you can’t find the quick-cooking variety, just add cooked conventional wild rice along with the chicken or turkey.

Serves 4, each serving contains:  378 calories 11 g fat (4 g sat); 3 g fiber; 29 g carbohydrates; 37 g protein; 80 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 73 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 364 mg sodium; 748 mg potassium.

Mexican Cabbage Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped carrot

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped poblano or green bell pepper

4 large cloves garlic, minced

8 cups sliced cabbage

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth

4 cups water

2 (15 ounce) cans low-sodium pinto or black beans, rinsed

¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons lime juice

Crumbled queso fresco, nonfat plain Greek yogurt and/or diced avocado for garnish

Heat oil in a large soup pot (8-quart or larger) over medium heat. Add onions, carrot, celery, poblano (or bell pepper) and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add cabbage; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 10 minutes more. Add tomato paste, chipotle, cumin and coriander; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

Add broth, water, beans and salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and limejuice. Serve garnished with cheese, yogurt and/or avocado, if desired.

Serves 8, each serving contains: 174 calories 4 g fat (1 g sat); 9 g fiber; 28 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 0 cholesterol; 7 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 119 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 413 mg sodium; 650 mg potassium.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound boneless, chicken cut into 1-inch chunks (original recipe called for thighs)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

5 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta

1 sprig rosemary

Juice of 1 lemon

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Stir in garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaves and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Stir in orzo, rosemary and chicken; reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

4 cups chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 pound (3 medium-sized) zucchini, spiralized*

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 sprig rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme and rosemary until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Stir in zucchini noodles and chicken; reduce heat and simmer until zucchini is tender, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve immediately, garnished with rosemary and parsley, if desired.