Healthier Living

The Foolproof Method To Building A Low-Calorie Soup

Miriam Alter March 15, 2023

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Soups are a starring super-food of the winter. They are warming, delicious and can be packed with nutrients. Last winter, we focused on how to determine the health vs. energy content of soups.

Many super nutrient-dense soups are very healthy. (See article referenced above.) This article is being
written for those among us who are looking to enjoy a lower calorie food option as an adjunct to a meal before the season ends.

Follow each of the steps below for the perfect low-cal soup!

Step 1: Choose soup ingredients that are on the lower end of the calorie continuum:

(Options are presented in alphabetical order)

Bell Pepper
Fresh Dill
Fresh Parsley

To choose veggies, I often use the technique that involves looking in my fridge and freezer and making
the soup using those veggies. Soups I have made like that have been real hits, however random, for
example a celery/turnip/yellow squash/ cauliflower soup.

Step 2: Spray your non-stick pot with oil.

Oil can be a healthy food but it is super-high-cal! So for a low-cal soup, use a non-stick pot and spray- do not drizzle- the oil.

Step 3: Sauté a diced onion in the aforementioned sprayed pot.

Noticeably, onion is missing from the above list of low-cal foods. While all vegetables have some
carbohydrates, onions provide a bunch of carbohydrates.

If your goal is to create a low-cal soup, stick to one onion for the pot. Other ways to increase flavor without calories are to incorporate one or two crushed garlic cloves into the onion while it is sautéing. In general, sweating whichever veggies you are putting in your soup as opposed to boiling them up right away will increase layers of flavor.

Step 4: Add in those veggies, cover with water, and bring to a boil until veggies are soft. 

Some of my favorite low-cal soups are cauliflower soup, broccoli/spinach soup, and eggplant parmesan soup. Mushroom soup is delicious, but I find that washing all those mushrooms can take a whole lot of time! Other popular veggie combos are tomato/red pepper and broccoli/zucchini.

For soups that call for chicken or vegetable broths as an ingredient, using the powder form will usually be lower calorie than ready made canned or boxed broths. The brand of chicken soup powder that I use is 10 calories per teaspoon. I do not generally add it to my soups, but if you like to, go for it!

Step 5: Add in the finishing touches!

Herbs and spices generally do not add significantly to the calorie content of a dish, so season to your heart’s content.

Some soups can benefit from a dash of soy sauce to enhance color and flavor.

As you see, creating a delicious, yet low-cal soup is not very challenging. I would love to hear from you if you create any soups that you feel are real winners!