You don’t need a pantry of ingredients to make healthy soups at home.
Canned soups are one of the most convenient meals, and many of them are low in calories, too. But canned soups have a couple big drawbacks: They’re sky-high in sodium, and the veggies and other ingredients are heavily processed and contain very little of the beneficial nutrients of fresh foods. (Here are tips for finding healthier store-bought soups.)
Homemade soup can help overcome some of these drawbacks—but many soup recipes require a long list of ingredients. Luckily, you can take a minimalist approach to homemade soup and still end up with the cozy, flavorful lunch you’ve been craving.
Word of caution: Soup is one of the “salty six,” according to the American Heart Association—meaning soup is one of the top six sources of sodium in the average American’s diet. To keep your soups lower in sodium and healthy for your heart, keep these tips in mind:
Use low-sodium broth, or make your own broth without adding salt.
Avoid adding high-sodium processed ingredients, like condensed cream of chicken, “cheese products” like Velveeta, or processed meats like sausage and bacon.
If using canned beans, look for reduced sodium or “no salt added” beans.
Stick to whole, unprocessed foods (vegetables, rice, quinoa, lentils, etc.) as much as possible.
Ready to get your soup on? Check out these flavorful and healthy five-ingredient soups:
1. Roasted broccoli soup: Broccoli + onion + garlic + broth.
Instead of broccoli cheddar soup (which is higher in saturated fat and sodium due to the cheddar), try roasted broccoli soup. Roasting the broccoli creates more pleasant and intense flavor, which means you’ll need fewer ingredients to make this soup sing. Find out how to make roasted broccoli soup from The Mostly Vegan.
2. Lentil rosemary soup: Brown lentils + onion + rosemary + water or broth.
The combination of rosemary and onion gives this lentil soup variation all the flavor it needs. Thanks to the lentils, it’s packed with protein. Check out the recipe for lentil rosemary soup by Power Hungry.
3. Carrot ginger soup: Carrots + onion + ginger + broth + milk.
Other recipes for this pureed classic often call for 10 or more ingredients, but you can do it with just five (plus salt and pepper). Like with the broccoli soup, roast the carrots ahead of time to give the soup more flavor with fewer ingredients. You can also make it dairy-free by using coconut or almond milk. Find out how to make carrot ginger soup by Kitchen Treaty.
4. Miso soup: Miso paste + water + nori + green onion + tofu.
Here’s a secret: miso soup is already pretty minimalist. Some recipes do call for additional items, like dried bonito flakes and chard, but you can make it with just these five essential ingredients. Check out how to make miso soup by The Spruce Eats.
5. Roasted red bell pepper soup: Red bell peppers + tomatoes + basil + olive oil.
Typical tomato soup often needs a good amount of sugar and cream to tame the acidity of the tomatoes, but adding roasted bell peppers also does the trick (for fewer ingredients *and* fewer grams of fat). Find out how to make roasted red bell pepper soup from Vanilla and Bean.
6. Rosemary cauliflower soup: Onion + garlic + cauliflower + rosemary + broth.
Rosemary makes another appearance, and it’s not a coincidence: When it comes to making five-ingredient soups, it helps to use potent flavors like fresh rosemary and other herbs. This creamy cauliflower soup is also a low-carb alternative to potato soup. Check out the recipe for rosemary cauliflower soup by One Green Planet.
7. Chicken tortilla soup: Chicken breast + broth + canned black beans + frozen corn + salsa.
Chicken tortilla soup in five ingredients?! Thanks to a few smart purchases, it’s possible. Just make sure to use low-sodium broth, reduced sodium beans, and no-salt-added salsa. Find out how to make this easy chicken tortilla soup from Melanie Cooks.
8. Butternut squash soup: Butternut squash, ginger, coconut milk.
Three ingredients? Yup. These three simple ingredients are a powerhouse of flavors on their own, so it doesn’t take anything else to make an impressive soup. If saturated fat is a concern for you, look for reduced-fat coconut milk, or just switch to almond milk and ditch the coconut altogether. Check out this recipe for butternut squash soup by Omnivore’s Cookbook.
If you can handle a little more than five ingredients, check out these other homemade soup recipes:
Saturated fat. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on November 5, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats.)
The salty six infographic. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on November 5, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/salty-six-infographic.)
What is clean eating. Dallas, TX; American Heart Association. (Accessed on November 5, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/what-is-clean-eating.)