Getting healthy entails more than saying no to those donuts at your morning meeting and hitting the gym four days a week (although that helps). It also means making sure your diet is abundant in superfoods—Mother Nature’s powerhouse crops. And what better way to get those nutrient-packed ingredients than in a delicious, hearty soup?
By tossing fresh vegetables and legumes into a big pot and letting them simmer, you can nourish your body with healthy nutrients that have been linked to lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, blood pressure and high cholesterol. Bonus: Some of these foods may even boost your skin tone and act as a fountain of youth. So what’s not to love? Try these five tasty hot and cold healthy soup recipes.
Black Beans for Cancer Prevention:
Want to stay healthy? Then it’s time to start loving black beans, says Cleveland Clinic nutritonist, Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D. According to one study, these superfood morsels were found to prevent DNA damage in mice. And that’s not just good news for mice. “A diet rich in black beans can help to fight against cancer and assist in keeping you in tip top health,” says Kirkpatrick. In addition to these cancer-fighting benefits, black beans are also chock-full of anthocyanins, which according to another study, ward off Parkinson’s disease. These tiny beans are also a great source of fiber, which can keep your digestive tract happy and healthy.
1Black Bean Soup
By Jim Perko
15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, small diced
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 cups water & 1 tablespoon natural vegetable base (or 2 cups vegetable stock)
1/3 cup poblano pepper, charred, peeled, seeded & chopped (approximately 1 poblano pepper)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
In cook pot on medium heat, add oil and sauté onion until transparent. Add garlic and sauté two minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, turn off heat, then remove from stove and puree with vertical immersion blender until pureed. Serve or allow to cool, and then cover, label, date and refrigerate.
Leeks for Heart Health:
Leeks are in the same family as garlic and onions and share the same heart healthy benefits. They help to promote your cardiovascular system by supporting healthy blood vessels. “Leeks also provide incredibly delicious flavor in soups, which means you can use less salt to get the taste rewards you’re searching for,” says Kirkpatrick. And we all know that less salt is good for our hearts, too! Know what else is good for us? Broccoli. “Broccoli tops the list as one of the best natural cancer fighters around,” adds Kirkpatrick. That’s because compounds in this cruciferous vegetable called isothiocyanates may actually halt the growth of cancer cells, according to several studies.
2Broccoli Potato and Leek Soup
By Jim Perko
8 cups water
8 teaspoons vegetable base
4 cups broccoli, bite size florets (about ½ pound)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup sweet onion, small diced
1 tablespoon garlic, fresh and finely chopped, (about 6 cloves)
¾ pound leeks, white part only, washed and medium diced (about 2 cups chopped)
1 ½ pounds yukon or Idaho potatoes, peeled and large diced
2 pounds broccoli, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
In cook pot, add 8 cups water and vegetable base, mix and bring to a simmer. Add 4 cups broccoli florets and blanch until just tender, remove from stock, set aside and save. In cook pot, sauté onions on medium heat in olive oil until transparent, add garlic without browning, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add diced leeks and sauté 4 minutes. Add saved vegetable stock, increase heat, bring to a simmer, add potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer four minutes. Then add 2 pounds chopped broccoli and simmer on medium heat until potatoes are fully cooked. Turn off heat and blend with a vertical stick blender until completely pureed. Garnish with blanched broccoli florets and serve.
Avocado for Healthy Cells:
Avocados, which are in season right now, are not only rich, creamy and delicious, they also provide a mega dose of healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6. These fats help keep our cells in prime shape. “Every single cell in our bodies—and that would be billions of cells in the skin alone—have membranes that contain fat, and if you’re not getting some of that good healthy fat, those cells are just not as supple as they need to be,” says Anna Thomas, author of “Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure,” which won the James Beard Award in the category of Healthy Focus. Bonus: Avocados also boost brain health and can lower blood pressure.
3Cold Cucumber and Avocado Soup
By Anna Thomas, author of “Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure”
2 pounds soft-skinned cucumbers
6 ounces watercress (about 2 cups), chopped
¾ cups fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small jalapeño pepper (more if very mild)
1 large Haas avocado (about 7 oz)
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
fruity green olive oil
1 ripe, red tomato, finely diced
Trim ends off cucumbers, taste each end and trim off any bitter part. Cut cucumbers in cubes. If they are very large with mature seeds, remove seeds; the soft-skinned varieties of cucumbers do not have to be peeled. Wash the watercress, remove any heavy stems and chop roughly.
Combine half the cucumber and most of the lemon juice in a blender and puree. The cucumber will soon be a liquid. Add remaining cucumber, garlic, jalapeño and watercress. Puree until smooth. Work in batches if you need to.
Halve the avocado, remove the pit, and cut the flesh into cubes; you should have not quite a cup of diced avocado. Add avocado to the cucumber puree, along with a teaspoon of sea salt and process again. The mixture will become thicker and creamier. Stir everything together in a bowl and taste. Add more lemon and more salt, a bit at a time and stirring thoroughly each time, until the balance tastes right to you. Chill the soup well. Serve in small bowls, and drizzle each serving with a little fresh, fruity olive oil. Then scatter a few tomato cubes and croutons on top.
Carrots for Anti-Aging:
Carrots can help slow down the hands of time. Famous for their high content of beta-carotene, these crunchy superfoods contain valuable antioxidants. “An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells in the body from damage, and therefore, is vitally important to maintaining good health,” says Ellen Bass, M.D., co-author of the cookbook “Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Every Day.” Specifically, these protectors guard against heart disease, cancer and premature aging of our cells. The vitamin A in carrots also protects the aging of our skin by guarding against sun damage. And cooking these bright orange veggies—like in this soup—only releases more of that anti-aging, beta-carotene goodness.
4The Easiest Zero Fat Carrot Soup on the Planet
By Ellen Bass, M.D., and Sophia Khan, award-winning authors of the cookbook “Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Every Day.”
2 x 16 ounce bags of baby carrots
1 yellow onion, sliced
8 cups of water
2 tablespoons garlic paste (or 3 cloves of garlic)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon curry powder
Place all ingredients (except honey) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook until the carrots are soft, about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the carrots.
Turn off the heat. Add the honey. Let cool a bit. Use a blender or immersion blender to puree the soup. Can be served warm or cold.
Kale for Healthy Skin:
Dark leafy greens, such as kale, are excellent sources of fiber, folate, carotenoids, B vitamins and vitamins A and C, according to Keri Glassman, R.D., author of “The New You and Improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever.” “Vitamin A can help fight dry skin and acne, while vitamin C can act as your food equivalent of the fountain of youth, helping to repair skin by building collagen and helping to ward off those pesky wrinkles,” says Glassman. The B vitamins found in kale also promote circulation to the skin, giving it a healthy glow. Bonus: The sweet potatoes and kale in this recipe also help prevent acne breakouts and flare-ups that can make your skin blemished and blotchy (good riddance, adult acne).
5Chicken Kale Soup
By Keri Glassman, R.D., author of “The New You and Improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever.”
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups kale, roughly chopped
10 grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
Sea salt and pepper
Optional fresh ginger
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook chicken through, about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove chicken and set aside for later. Then add celery, garlic and onion to the pot and cook until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Pour in the apple cider vinegar and add the sweet potatoes, kale, tomatoes, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, tear chicken with hands for a pulled effect. Stir chicken into the pot to heat it for a few minutes. Serve into bowls and (optional: grate fresh ginger on top) enjoy.