The weather is changing, the leaves are turning, and soup season is here! “Warm soup belly” is such a wonderful way to find comfort and be snuggly on a crisp evening. Soup can be ridiculously weight loss friendly – so much in fact that I usually lose a pound or two without trying in cooler weather because soup is so filling and healthy! Since it’s so easy to accidentally sabotage your healthy soup and turn it into high caloric meal, I’ve compiled my top tips to keep your soup healthy, so you can enjoy some accidental “my pants fit better” moments as well!
Keep Your Soup Healthy and Weight Loss Friendly with these 5 Tips
1. Make it Broth-Based
Creamy soups are no doubt delicious, but if you can keep most of your fall and winter soups broth-based, you will experience more of the weight loss power of soup!
I simply omit the heavy cream or caloric ingredients from recipes and I have yet to regret it. You can opt for making only broth-based recipes, so you don’t have to wonder if omitting an ingredient will ruin the taste! And seasoning is key. You’ll still get the hearty, comforting goodness from a broth soup, and you won’t miss the unhealthy ingredients if you season it right! And…dare I recommend bone broth to get you some extra protein?
Thicken it with Veggies
If you still want it thick and creamy, you can blend up veggies to make it thicker without adding heavy cream or coconut milk. Yes, those items can be healthy, but they aren’t short on calories. Blending up cooked pumpkin or butternut squash can be a great way to make your soup creamy, while keeping it broth-based. You can also take a few ladles of the soup and put it in a blender. Adding the blended mixture back into the soup will help it have a thick and creamy texture. Another way is to mix in arrowroot powder instead of corn starch or regular flour to add thickness to a soup!
2. It’s All About the Veggies, Baby
Most Americans don’t eat enough vegetables. They are weight loss friendly because they are filling but low in calories, they are alkaline, cancer-fighting, full of fiber, nutrients, and phytonutrients – their benefits are just about endless! Making sure your soup has plenty of heart-healthy veggies is important so it’s not only weight loss friendly, but keeps you healthy and living longer!
As mentioned before, you can blend up the veggies in your soup to make it creamier – and this works well to help hide veggies if your family isn’t quite on board with them! I try to pick recipes like taco soups or chilis so I can add plenty of veggies to make the soup last longer and be more filling and nutritious!
3. Control Those Carbs
I’m not so crazy that I would suggest making a comfort soup without carbs, but cutting back on them can be to your advantage to lose some weight before the holidays roll around!
Here are some common carb-heavy foods found in soups:
- rice (choose whole grain!)
- potatoes of all kinds
This list isn’t extensive, but these are top offenders. To help control your serving size of carbs, I recommend cooking them separately and leaving them in a separate bowl or pot. This way you can add in as much as you need. This would be helpful for weight loss, instead of adding it to the whole soup and letting portion size be out of your control.
On average, unless you’ve got some weight gain goals or are extremely active, a good starting point is 1 cupped handful of carbs. You can do this at each meal, or if you’re serious about losing weight, shoot for only two meals a day. Carbs aren’t bad, but when we overeat them we can gain weight and negatively affect our blood sugar levels.
You can also replace the carb-heavy foods. You could substitute
- rice for cauliflower rice (I suggest the already frozen kind),
- replace noodles with a “spiralized” veggie noodle, like zucchini.
- white potatoes with rutabagas
- sweet potatoes with butternut squash
I started swapping rutabagas for potatoes in pretty much all recipes, or going half and half. My husband has never noticed, so don’t tell him. Rutabagas have significantly less carbs and more nutrients than white potatoes! You could try it with turnips, too, although I can’t vouch for it yet!
A note on beans: as long as my soup has a plenty of veggies and is made of broth, I never stress about the carbs beans add. They are also a great source of protein, fiber, and nutrients. If you are trying to lose weight fast, this could be something you limit, although I have not had to yet.
4. Choose Your Protein Wisely
The first part of this is “choose your protein” – make sure your soup has a protein source! That’s a b s o l u t e l y important for weight loss. Increasing your protein can be more important than decreasing carbs, although carbs always get the bad reputation! So, make sure your soup has protein.
Here are some thoughts on how to do that wisely. For animal protein sources, you’ll want to choose them in this order:
- Lean Meats: chicken, turkey, fish
- Red Meats: beef/steak, pork, lamb
- Processed Meats: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, hot dogs
- (anything that’s been salted, cured, smoked or otherwise preserved)
- Use sparingly
So choose most of your soups from #1, the next amount from #2, and limit your choices from #3. I personally opt for mainly chicken, turkey, or veggie soups. I’ll rock a ground beef chili or taco soup about once a week, and will make a soup that has sausage or top one with bacon every so often, but not weekly.
If you’re wondering why, processed meats are officially on the cancer-causing list. They haven’t defined a safe amount, nor can they tell us the why behind it. We just know it does, and you should “cut back.” Adding bacon to my soup bi-weekly is a way I’m cutting back, but if you’re concerned, eliminating them is also an option!
For vegetarian soups, here are some healthy protein options:
- tofu and tempeh
- fill ‘er up with veggies known to be high in protein
5. How to Truly Top it Off
Toppings can be the ultimate finishing touch to your perfect comfort soup, but they can also push you over the edge and make it unhealthy. Here’s how to still rock your favorite toppings, but keep the calories in check:
You can make some swaps, like replacing sour cream with plain Greek yogurt to keep your soup healthy. The Lamberts’ new fave is swapping tortilla chips for crunchy red cabbage. Hear me out: in no way is red cabbage as delicious as a tortilla chip, but it’s filling, and it adds the crunch the chips would – so it helps you miss them less. And if your soup is yummy, you won’t care so much they’re gone. We prefer tortilla chips, obviously, but we have no complaints about our new healthy swap! Search for a healthy swap for your favorite toppings.
Cheese can be a healthy choice, but keep your portions in check. Same with avocados – God bless the avocado! Add them to your favorite chilis or taco soups, but try to stick to 1-2 slices. Herbs are the perfect healthy, low calorie choice. And roasted nuts and seeds can be a healthy addition, but watch the portions because they are higher in calories.
Choosing veggie toppings is a great plan, too. Things like red onion, radishes, jalapenos, green onion, olives, etc would be low-calorie choices.
Adding low calorie condiments can be a great way to add a flavor kick to your soup while keeping it weight loss friendly. Salsa, hot sauce, sriracha, chili paste, lemon or lime are good choices.
And if you’re determined to eat something unhealthy, like croutons or bacon, just monitor your portions! Sometimes we go all out for dinner, but when it’s leftover time, we limit our unhealthy toppings or choose the healthy substitutes instead. Best of both worlds!
A Few Other Tips
Stick to the guidelines above and you’ll rock your soup weather diet – and perhaps you’ll feel more confident in your leggings or skinny jeans with your sweater, scarf, and boots. Oh how I love everything fall! Here are two more things to consider before you dig out your crockpot:
- Sodium: watch sodium intake. Too much is associated with water retention and a number of health conditions.
- choose low sodium broth, or make your own and season it without salt
- Sides: what’s a controlled-carb soup if you’re eating a loaf of bread with it!
- choose baked vegetable “fries,” a grilled cheese with whole grain or sprouted bread, a side salad, or who needs a side when you just worked hard to make an amazing soup?! Be mindful that sides can sabotage your healthy plan, too.
Bust Out Your Crockpot and Ladle!
Friends, I hope you love soup season as much as I do. This is my favorite weight loss diet. I feel full and satisfied while eating things that are delicious. I never feel like I’m missing out, and still get some great comfort food in while staying the same jeans size! Score!
Don’t forget to eat slowly, too. And if you’re motivated or determined to get healthier and lose weight, check out the Workout Programs The Fit Tutor has to offer. There’s a plan for every budget but the paying ones include my Nutrition Course and Accountability! Check it out and let me know if you have any questions!
Wishing you a warm soup belly,