“Souper” Easy Weeknight Meals

by karen on October 10, 2019

Soups are an easy, nutritious, quick meal, and fall is the perfect season to put them back on the table. Cream based soups can be a bit more challenging to keep healthy, but we’ve got some advice for limiting the saturated fat and excessive calories that are in traditional versions. Broth-based soups are versatile: their possibilities for flavor and ingredients are abundant, offering simple and delicious meals that come together with minimum time and effort. Utilize the recipes below to get simple, healthy, and delicious soups into your fall diet.

Benefits of Soup

  • Easy way of meeting your vegetable quota, which is 2+ cups daily
  • Have an abundance of unused veggies in the crisper? Soup is an easy rescue.
  • Great source of antioxidants
  • Laden with anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Provide beneficial fiber
  • Many low-calorie options, aiding in weight loss
  • Contribute to meeting fluid needs
  • Filling and satisfying
  • Warm and comforting
  • Quick and simple recipes
  • Doesn’t always require a recipe—start with stock and be creative with your combo of veggies, legumes, herbs and spices
  • Can ease a sore throat

Secrets to Creating Great Tasting, Healthy, Cream Soups

It can be difficult to find cream soups in restaurants that aren’t full of fat and calories, but here are a number of ways to create healthy cream soups at home that qualify for what I refer to as “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 and 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.
  • Use a Spray Oil Instead. If you’re sautéing vegetables, spray oil will keep your veggies from sticking while minimizing added fat.
  • 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.
  • Preheat Your Spices. Before adding spices to your soup, heat them for a minute or so over medium heat in your dry stockpot. Add dried herbs at the beginning of the cooking time, and fresh herbs right before serving.
  • 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.

Main Dish Soups

Both soup recipes come from Allrecipes.com, which you probably know by now is a favorite recipe source of mine, as you can find recipes that already implement healthy cooking tips and appreciate that time is a precious commodity. 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.

So, rescue some of the forgotten veggies in your fridge with one of these recipes (or one of your own), a stockpot, and a little creativity. You’ll have a warm, hearty, nutritious meal in no time.

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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