10 Soups That Support Healthy Weight Loss (and Not One of Them Is Cabbage)
Published on December 27, 2021
By Jess Novak
Soups have been shown to be one of the best tools in your toolkit if you’re trying to support healthy weight loss. This is true for a few reasons: to start, soup can help with feelings of satiety, meaning that they can help you feel full. Additionally, a well-crafted soup offers serious nutritional bang for your caloric buck, which can help you lose weight in a healthy way. Here, we focus on weight loss soup recipes that are relatively low in calories while being high in protein, a macronutrient that has been shown to help boost your metabolism and help your body burn calories, as well as fiber, which has been demonstrated to promote weight loss.
By ingesting fewer calories that are still extremely nutrient-dense, you’re supporting your body’s systems with all the protein, fiber, healthy fats, good carbs, and vitamins and minerals you need. Deprivation is never the answer — rather than focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, it’s always better to consider what you could be enjoying more of. These weight loss soup recipes are flavorful, healthful additions to your weekly rotations. (Honestly, they’re so tasty that we recommend them for the winter no matter what your weight goals are.)
L-carnitine is an amino acid that’s been shown in studies to help people lose weight, and lamb meat contains more L-carnitine than other meats — in fact, it has twice the amount that pork does. All of this boils down to one big takeaway: lamb isn’t just tasty, it can help boost your body’s ability to burn fat. While we want to be mindful of our red meat intake, occasionally enjoying some red meat can be healthy, especially if we opt for certified grass-fed, organic lamb. This fragrant, healthful stew also contains chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and spinach, making it a complete meal with a good amount of fiber and vegetables.
Traditional minestrone contains pasta, usually ditalini. We would never claim that pasta isn’t delicious — it tastes amazing — but to be honest, most pastas are just empty carbs. So consider saving pasta for nights when you are absolutely craving a carbonara, rather than simply using it to bulk up a soup. Instead, sub out the pasta for quinoa: you’re adding a complex carb that’s also a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own. This is a great upgrade to a traditional recipe — and also makes it gluten-free.
Chicken and rice soup is a classic combination, but wild rice — which isn’t actually a rice at all, but is instead a form of aquatic grass — is much more healthful than white rice (and it’s better-tasting, in our opinion). If you’re tempted to sub out the wild rice for brown rice, consider this: wild rice has nearly 30% fewer calories than brown rice, while having 40% more protein, and more fiber, too. Given that this soup contains kale and carrots, too, it’s a complete meal unto itself.
Peas are a wonderful source of vegan protein, and this plant-based pea soup recipe is a great way to make delicious use of that. We’d replace at least half the water with vegetable stock, however, for an added flavor boost — as well as some liquid aminos or miso. This would be delicious as a light meal on its own, but for those who aren’t following a plant-based diet, it would also be great served with a salad topped with roast chicken and a crumble of blue cheese.
The dry white wine used to deglaze the pan makes this delightful, light seafood soup sing, and we think a sauvignon blanc, vouvray, or grüner veltliner would be ideal. This recipe is incredibly versatile, making use of protein-filled shellfish — toss in whatever looks fresh and tasty at the market, really — and plenty of herbs, which brighten the flavor. We love the recipe author’s suggestion to serve this with a simple fennel salad, which will pick up on the fennel in the soup’s base (and is also just a great way to use up the rest of the fennel).
This cauliflower soup manages to be creamy without using any dairy products at all: white beans have a surprisingly creamy texture when blended. This gentle cauliflower soup is delicious on its own (who doesn’t love the classic combination of garlic and thyme!) but if you want to spice it up, just add whichever spice blends you want to use while you sautée the vegetables. A couple teaspoons of berbere seasoning, garam masala, or ras el-hanout would liven this dish up considerably.
7. Caldo Verde
A traditional soup that hails from northern Portugal, caldo verde is a Portuguese kale soup. The classic version is filled with potatoes and choriço sausage, which makes this not a low-calorie option, but definitely an extremely filling and delicious one. For a slightly lighter version, you can simply halve the amount of sausage used — it’ll still be awfully tasty — or even replace with a vegan sausage alternative. And although white potatoes have been stigmatized as being empty calories, that’s not simply not true. They’re packed with potassium, and they can be a great addition to a diet. In fact, one study indicated that white potatoes suppress appetite, while others show they may actually lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. They are calorie-dense, so consider getting in a good workout on days you enjoy a meal featuring potatoes, but there’s no reason to avoid them overall.
Traditionally, mulligatawny soup uses plenty of rice and heavy cream. To make a lower-carb version, the recipe author uses coconut milk in lieu of cream and cauliflower in place of the rice. This lighter version of the Indian classic comes together in just a few minutes and tastes absolutely delicious. This recipe offers both Instant Pot and stovetop methods of preparation, so you can pick whichever one works for you. This is a great, light meal on its own, but would be perfect with a side salad drizzled with a cilantro-lime dressing.
This chicken soup has all the earthy, spicy flavor of a rich chicken chili, but with relatively fewer calories. This recipe is extremely flexible and can be adjusted depending on what you have in the fridge. Also, if you want to avoid corn, just leave it out — we promise you won’t even miss it. Why does this recipe use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts? Honestly, they’re just way more flavorful and have a higher fat content, which helps with satiety. You can substitute chicken breast if you like, though, of course.
This French lentil soup is an absolute classic, and it couldn’t be easier to make. We love French lentils — aka lentils du puy — for the way they hold their shape and remain a bit al dente after cooking. We recommend putting a handful of chopped baby spinach in the bottom of each bowl before serving, then giving it a good stir. This allows the spinach to gently wilt, without it getting overly cooked and giving it that weird slimy texture (you know what we’re talking about).
Jess Novak is the Head of Content and Audience Development for Clean Plates. She’s obsessed with making meals that taste like they’re not healthy but secretly really are. You can follow her on Instagram @jtothenovak.