Homemade soup is a one-pot stop for boosting your intake of essential vitamins, nutrients and dietary fibre. (It’s a great excuse to snag some fresh rolls from the bakery.) And you can’t wolf down hot soup like you can a plate of fries, and so you’re not likely to overdo it, says Theresa Albert, Toronto-based author and nutritionist. Are you sold yet? Try one of our five flavourful and nourishing soup recipes.
The red peppers, onions and tomatoes in the grilled vegetable soup are low in fat and contain cancer-fighting compounds called phytochemicals, says Albert. Red peppers are nutritional powerhouses, confirms dietitian and sports nutritionist Jennifer Sygo. “A large red pepper provides 103 percent of your daily vitamin A requirements, and a whopping 349 percent of your vitamin C needs.” Keep sodium levels down by choosing a low-sodium broth or using half broth, half water. To make it a complete meal, Albert suggests adding Parmesan cheese and a handful of slivered almonds.
Pick a squash with darker flesh and you’ll boost the carotenoid count (a natural pigment and source of vitamin A that’s good for eyes, lungs and skin) in the harvest squash soup. “Stir in cashews and hemp seeds to add some protein and good fats,” adds Albert. “The calories are so low in this soup that you can add up to a quarter cup of nuts and seeds.” Because it’s low on the glycemic index, squash is also a smart carb. “It only has a small impact on your blood sugar,” explains Sygo. “On top of that, a one-cup serving of cooked squash will provide you with about 500 milligrams of potassium, an important nutrient for blood-pressure control — that’s about the same as in a large banana.”
The elegant seafood soup is a great way to work heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. Shrimp are “low in calories and a source of omega-3s,” says Sygo. “A 3-oz (85-g) serving of shrimp [about 14 medium shrimp] contains only 90 calories, yet provides 17 grams of protein, 11 percent of your daily iron, and 46 percent of your selenium needs.” Albert suggests tossing in a handful of frozen scallops and peas to maximize each mouthful. You can also sub low-sodium vegetable cocktail for the regular variety and use whole-grain, quick-cooking rice to add fibre.
The lentils in Mexican lentil soup make it a meal in a bowl. “Lentils are full of fibre and protein, plus they require no soaking or pre-boiling,” explains Albert. And don’t fear a little spice; it offers more than just a kick in flavour. “The jalapenos and garlic in this soup should help kick up your metabolism a notch.”
Our Portuguese winter soup has a little bit of everything. Sausage adds hearty flavour, while greens such as cabbage and kale possess potent cancer-fighting properties and are rich in vitamin A. And “beans make sure you’re moving it all through,” says Albert. Improve the health benefits by using unsalted tomatoes. “You may want to opt for water instead of broth, too. With all the flavor in here, I doubt anyone would notice the difference.”