Healthy, Low-Fat Soup: Recipes and Tips


One of the best “light” dinner options when the weather is cold is soup! Just pair a big bowl of soup with a wheat roll or some wheat crackers, and call it a meal. I always have some favorite canned soups in my pantry so anyone in the family can serve themselves some soup in l5 minutes. But there’s something to be said for slowly simmering a homemade pot of soup over the stove until the flavors meld together perfectly. From chicken matzo ball soup to hearty lentil soup, it can really hit the spot on a cold day or night. Read on for some healthy and low-fat soup recipes, as well as tips on how to make any soup recipe lighter.

Soup for Supper

Can soup suffice as supper? If you are accustomed to eating light at night — or if this is something you’re moving toward — a bowl of soup can definitely work as a satisfying evening meal.

Here are three reasons why:

  • It’s almost impossible to slam down a bowl of soup. You have to eat slowly and enjoy each spoonful.
  • The high liquid content of most soups does a great job of filling your saturated fat, cholesterol, and fiber found in soup base ingredients so you can compare them for yourself:

    Ingredient 1 (cup) Calories Fat (g) Sat. Fat (g) low sodium if available

    3/4 cup diced carrots

    3/4 cup chopped celery (about 3 medium stalks)

    1 teaspoon garam masala (a spice blend)

    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

    1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

    6 tablespoons fat-free sour cream (optional garnish)

    • Add onions, garlic, ginger and olive to a large nonstick saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often (about 7 minutes). Add the broth, lentils, garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, carrots, celery, garam masala, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and cumin.
    • Bring stew to a boil, then lower heat to simmer, cover saucepan, and continue to cook until lentils are soft (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.)
    • Ladle about a third to a half of the soup into a large food processor or blender and pulse to briefly puree. Pour soup puree back into the pot and stir. Serve each bowl with a dollop of fat-free sour cream, if desired.

    Yield: 6 large servings

    Per serving: 321 calories, 21 g protein, 52 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, 1.5 g , 5 mg cholesterol, 11.4 g fiber, 323 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 15%.

    Winter Chicken & Barley Soup

    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 cup “hearty stew”

    1 tablespoon olive or canola oil

    1/2 cup chopped onion

    1 cup chopped celery

    2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 6 ounces)

    1 tablespoon minced garlic

    1 cup chopped carrots

    1 1/2 cups chopped, cooked skinless chicken breast (about 7 ounces cooked)

    5 cups low-sodium chicken broth

    2/3 cup pearl barley

    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon parsley flakes)

    1/3 slivered almonds, toasted (toast by heating over medium heat in nonstick frying pan, stirring often, until golden brown)

    Pepper to taste

    Salt to taste (optional)

    • Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, celery, mushrooms and garlic and sauté until mushrooms are lightly browned (about 7 minutes).
    • Stir in carrots, chicken, and broth and bring to boil. Stir in the barley, cover the saucepan, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about an hour or until barley is just tender.
    • Turn off the heat and stir in parsley and almonds. Add pepper to taste and salt to taste if desired.

    Yield: 6 servings

    Per serving: 246 calories, 18 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 9.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 156 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.

    Light New England Clam Chowder

    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 1/2 cup of “cream based soup” OR 1 cup “hearty stews”

    3 medium to large red potatoes, cubed

    1/2 cup chopped or sliced celery (about 2 large stalks)

    1 medium onion, chopped

    1/4 cup flour

    4 cups whole milk (low-fat milk can also be used)

    2 tablespoons whipped butter or less fat margarine

    1 teaspoon salt (optional)

    1 teaspoon sugar

    1 cup chopped clams (2, 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams, drained)

    10 drops Tabasco sauce

    1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

    Freshly ground pepper to taste

    • Add potatoes, celery, and onion to a large, nonstick saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender (about 15 minutes).
    • While vegetables are boiling, add flour and 1/4 cup milk to a 2-cup measure and stir to make a paste. Stir in another 1/4 cup of milk. Melt butter or margarine in a medium, nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and milk mixture, then slowly whisk in the remaining 3 1/2 cups milk. Stir in the salt, if desired, and the sugar and continue cooking and stirring until soup is nicely thickened (about 5 minutes).
    • Add the milk mixture to the potato mixture in large saucepan and stir in the clams and Tabasco sauce. Cover saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Stir in Parmesan and pepper to taste.

    Yield: 8 servings