“Souping” has gained popularity in recent years as a way to eat clean, lose weight and get healthy. The idea behind a soup cleanse is that you eat only vegetable soups for a certain number of days and afterwards—poof—you’re magically slimmer and healthier. Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick for losing weight or staying healthy, and in fact, eating nothing but vegetable soup means you miss out on a lot of important nutrients from other foods. While the souping trend isn’t the cure-all some claim it to be, there are definite benefits to eating more veggie-packed soups. For one, you’re getting in a variety of veggies and the beneficial nutrients they provide, like fiber, vitamins and minerals. And because vegetable soups are naturally low in calories and have a high water content, you can fill up on a large serving.
In this week’s meal plan, we show you EatingWell’s take on a healthy soup diet. The 7 days of soups in this plan pack in the veggies and add in other healthy foods to balance out the meal, with filling protein from beans, lentils and lean meat. Each soup is low-calorie, so you can enjoy a big bowl, and provides at least 1 serving of protein to help you feel satisfied. To make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need, we suggest balancing your day with a healthy breakfast and lunch (that isn’t soup), so we’ve included some recipe ideas each day for inspiration. Enjoy this week of delicious, warming and satisfying soup dinners.
Day 1: Southwestern Vegetable & Chicken Soup
Southwestern Vegetable & Chicken Soup: Who wouldn’t want to eat their vegetables when they’re tucked into a fragrant broth with bits of tasty chicken and spiked with a shot of fresh lime and cilantro? This healthy chicken vegetable soup seems even richer with the smoky flavor from roasted poblano peppers and garlic. Serve this healthy soup with tortilla chips and a side salad to round out the meal.
Day 2: Ribollita Soup
Ribollita Soup: Ribollita, a traditional hearty Tuscan soup, typically uses day-old bread to add body and thicken the broth. This ribollita recipe uses a bean mash instead to add fiber. Garnish with extra-virgin olive oil or pepper and grated Parmesan and a piece of crusty whole-grain bread.
Day 3: Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque
Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque: This satisfying vegetarian sweet potato soup is inspired by the flavors of West African peanut soup. We like the added zip of hot green chiles, but be careful not to add too much—they’re spicy. Top with chopped peanuts and scallions and serve with a mixed green salad with vinaigrette.
Day 4: Salmon Chowder
Salmon Chowder: The flavor of this salmon chowder is enhanced by adding either fresh dill or dried tarragon—each herb lends its own distinctively different and appealing character to the soup. This recipe calls for instant mashed potatoes, which gives the soup a thick, chowder texture without any heavy cream or butter. Leftover mashed potatoes will work, but give a slightly less-velvety texture.
Day 5: Curried Parsnip & Apple Soup
Curried Parsnip & Apple Soup: This creamy parsnip and apple soup recipe has amazing flavor from the combination of curry powder, coriander, cumin and ginger. Be sure to use fresh curry powder when making this soup for the best flavor. Not sure if yours is fresh? Open the jar: the aroma should meet your nose immediately. Serve this warming soup with flatbread or whole-wheat rolls.
Day 6: Slow-Cooker Chicken Pho
Slow-Cooker Chicken Pho: Chicken pho, a classic Vietnamese soup, is a perfect recipe for a slow cooker. The chicken and seasonings of star anise, cloves and ginger simmer all day in the crock pot, welcoming you home with an alluring aroma. Serve with the essential garnishes for pho soup—fresh herbs, bean sprouts, chiles and lime—and let everyone top their own. For those who want more heat, add some chile-garlic sauce.
Day 7: Very Green Lentil Soup
Very Green Lentil Soup: Lentils seem to go well with just about anything, and here they play well with a collection of greens and some cumin and coriander to add a gentle spicy note to this soup recipe. The result is a hearty soup with layers of flavor. Both French green lentils (available in natural-foods stores and specialty markets) and more commonly available brown lentils are delicious in this soup. The French green lentils hold their shape better when cooked, while brown lentils will start to break down a bit.