“Souper” Easy Weeknight Meals

by karen on November 2, 2020

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Soups can be easy, nutritious, and delicious

And fall is the perfect season to put them back on the table. Broth-based soups are versatile: their possibilities for flavor and ingredients are abundant, offering tasty meals that come together with minimum time and effort. Cream-based soups can be more challenging to keep healthy, but you already know we have advice for limiting the fat and excessive calories of traditional versions.

Benefits of soups (besides all that flavor)

  • An easy rescue for unused veggies
  • Great source of antioxidants
  • Laden with anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Provide beneficial fiber
  • Help you hit your daily veggie quota
  • Often low-calorie, aiding in weight loss
  • Quick and simple recipes with the possibility to get creative

Secrets to Creating Great Tasting, Healthy, Cream Soups

It can be difficult to find healthy cream soups in restaurants, but there are ways to create them at home. I call it “stealth nutrition”—a healthy swap that goes undetected because the flavor, texture, aroma and visual appeal are wonderful.

  • Use a Touch of Healthy Oil. Not all fats are created equal. Trade out saturated and trans fats for unsaturated fats by choosing olive oil over butter or coconut oil.
  • Reduce the Amount of Oil. Half the oil called for in a recipe is usually more than enough and will still impart the creamy texture you’re going for. If you’re sautéing vegetables, spray oil will keep your veggies from sticking while minimizing added fat.
  • Or, Skip the Oil. Sauté the vegetables in broth, wine, water or a combination of the three instead of using oil.
  • Brown Meats in a Separate Pan. This will allow you to drain any fat that separates from the meat, and allows you to pat fat from the meat before adding to your stock.
  • Add Miso. Miso is fermented soybean paste. It gives a savory, meat-like flavor to vegetarian or other broths. Use a tablespoon per quart of water.
  • Add Just a Touch of Cream. A little cream will go a long way. When the recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream, stir in a few tablespoons instead.
  • Or, Replace the Cream. If your recipe calls for a heavy cream, use puréed cooked potatoes instead. Stir the purée into the soup to thicken it.

You should feel free to personalize recipes to accommodate your taste and nutrition goals, like how I change things up a bit by adding yogurt to the squash bisque for added creaminess and protein, and leaving the skin on the potato for added fiber and nutrients.

Butternut Squash Bisque

Serves 4


1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp butter
½ cup diced onion
¾ cup diced carrots
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
3 cups vegetable stock
Salt, pepper and ground nutmeg to taste
1 cup Nonfat Greek Yogurt 


  1. Heat the oil and butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent.
  2. Add carrots, squash, and vegetable stock, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor, add yogurt, and puree until smooth.
  5. Top with a dash more nutmeg, if desired.

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 280 calories, 5 gm fat, 24 gm carb, 4 gm fiber, 8 gm protein, 2 vegetable servings

Serving Suggestion
Pair with a kale salad sprinkled with feta, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Hearty Lentil Soup

Serves 4


2 Tbsp canola oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 leek, thoroughly washed, thinly sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 potato, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
1- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
½ tsp soy sauce
1.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ cup dry red wine
1 bunch cilantro, chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat and add onion, leek, carrot, parsnip, potato, and celery. Cook over medium heat until softened, around 15 minutes.
  2. Add lentils, tomatoes, vegetable stock, bay leaves, soy and Worcestershire sauces, and red wine to stockpot. Stir and bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 25 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  3. Remove bay leaves and garnish with cilantro.

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 350 calories, 5 gm fat, 60 gm carb, 21 gm fiber, 17 gm protein, 2 vegetable servings

Serving Suggestion
Pair with a mixed greens salad containing cucumber, red onion and red cabbage, topped with Light Ranch dressing.

Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website at www.NutritionConnectionNV.com 

To find a nutrition expert in your area, go to the academy website – Find an Expert https://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert

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