It’s winter, and what better time to talk about one of the coziest, cold-weather dishes around— soup! From vegetable soup to chicken soup, hearty stews to light, warming broths to chowder... it’s the ultimate comfort food this season. And there’s no better dish to warm yourself with on a cold wintry evening and no easier meal to spoon up on busy weeknights than a bowl of delicious soup.
Not all soups are a healthy option for everyone, so it’s not as easy as a bowl of soup a day can keep the doctor away. Save that proverb for apples! And while there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to any kind of food, there are various healthy soups you can add to your meal plan. From low-calorie to hearty soups that add essential nutrients to your diet, there’s something for everyone.
Soups and Diabetes
When you’re diabetic, looking for dinner recipes can be a little more complicated than prep times and available ingredients. Sure, you’re thinking about whether you’re feeling like eating a gazpacho or a minestrone, whether you want to saute the veggies or throw everything in an instant pot. But you may also be thinking about what works best for you regarding blood sugar responses. And not all recipes come with a blood sugar guide for your specific body!
If you have diabetes, you know that managing blood sugar levels are vital for your day-to-day health, and eating certain foods could cause unhealthy spikes. Glucose (what your body uses for energy) is broken down by your body from the food you consume. If you are diabetic, your body may not handle glucose properly.
While everyone responds differently to different foods, there are certain things you can keep in mind when you’re testing your favorite soup recipes this season. To help you out, here are a few things you should know about diabetes and dietary choices. Then read on to pick from some of our favorite soup recipes, and see why they may be an excellent option to experiment with if you have diabetes.
Some Helpful Dietary Tips for Diabetics
If you have diabetes, you know how important your dietary choices are. But just because you have to be careful about what you eat doesn’t mean that you have to forego all the foods you love. It just means that you have to learn what works best for your body, moderate your intake of certain foods and find healthy options that work well for you.
For example, bean and lentil soups may be a great way to lower cholesterol for some and a terrible option for others. Some people may respond well to soups with ground beef, while others may fare better with some simple vegetable soups. You have probably spoken with your doctor or are working with a registered dietitian to manage the condition. Also, consider tracking and monitoring your food intake using a tool like a CGM!
Foods to Focus On
Whole fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants and are a great addition to your meal plan. Remember to find the specific fruits and vegetables that work well for your body to add to your soups!
Protein: Proteins helps to slow down the digestion process and subsequently, the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Eating protein with every meal can also help you stay feeling fuller, longer. Focus adding proteins like lean meat, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs, legumes, and tofu to your soups.
Whole Grains: Whole grains like quinoa and brown rice may be a great addition to your meals, if you tolerate them. You can also add whole grains like oats to your soups if you choose to incorporate them in your diet.
Legumes: Get healthy carbohydrates by eating beans, lentils, and peas. Legumes are packed with dietary fiber, a carb that helps your digestive system function and helps slow the uptake of sugar into your bloodstream.
Foods to Moderate
Processed Sugary Foods: Avoid foods like candy, cookies, cakes, sweet cereals, and donuts. Opt for fresh over canned foods as canned versions often have added sugars.
Starches: Consider moderating vegetables like corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes in your diet. Starch breaks down into sugar and can spike blood sugar for some people.
Sugary Drinks: Sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks are high in added sugars. Stay hydrated with water and add some fruits, citrus, or herbs to add flavor while staying blood sugar friendly.
Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages are often high in carbohydrate and sugar content. Stick to clear spirits and low sugar mixers if you have a cocktail or dry, red wines.
Processed Grains: Bread, pasta, and tortillas made with white flour will break down into sugar more quickly and can lead to elevated blood sugar levels..
Our Favorite Diabetic-Friendly Soups
When you’re looking through recipes so you can enjoy a delicious bowl of soup this season, focus on finding recipes with a balance of protein, high fiber carbs, and vegetables. Once you find a good base, you can examine what you add for flavor.
It’s a good idea to experiment to find a combination that works best for your individual needs since not all these ingredients will be the perfect pick for everyone. Also, remember not to make any drastic changes to your diet without consulting a healthcare professional. Here are a few of our favorites:
Hearty Tomato Soup with Beans & Greens from Eating Well
- 2 cans (14 ounces each) of low-sodium hearty-style tomato soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups chopped kale
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper (this is optional)
- 1 can (14 ounces) no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Why we love it: This recipe is packed with fiber and vitamins from its veggies. It’s pretty low-carb, and beans and cheese can be a good source of protein.
Greens and Beans Turkey Soup from Taste of Home
- 1 leftover turkey carcass (from a 12-pound turkey)
- 9 cups of water
- 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
- 1 can (15 and 1/2 ounces) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 3 tablespoons chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Why we love it: In this recipe, the turkey that is the focus of this delicious soup is full of lean protein. The beans make this a filling, hearty soup, and the spinach and celerity add fiber.
Butternut Squash and Millet Soup from Diabetes Self Management
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 2 1/4 cups diced butternut squash or 1 (10 ounces) package frozen diced butternut squash
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4 ounces each), cooked and chopped
- 1 cup cooked millet
Why we love it: This recipe is a delightful way to warm up on a cold night. Squash is full of vitamins and antioxidants, and the chicken will add that much-needed protein to this meal.
Vegan Mushroom Soup from Diabetes Strong
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 1 clove fresh garlic
- 16 oz. mushrooms
- 8 sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves removed and set aside)
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 14 oz canned coconut milk (coconut cream can also be used for extra creaminess)
- 1 tablespoon coconut Aminos (or regular soy sauce)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Why we love it: This recipe is an excellent option for vegetarians, vegans... anyone looking for a meat-free bowl of soup. Coconut milk has healthy fats, and mushrooms are a fantastic, hearty alternative to meats.
Effortless Egg Drop Soup from Everyday Diabetic Recipes
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
Why we love it: This recipe is all about protein. There is a little bit of starch content, but as long as you don’t overeat, this soup is sure to warm your heart and provide you with healthy nutrients!
Low-Carb Keto Zuppa Toscana Soup from Shugary Sweets
- 1 pound mild Italian Sausage
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon
- 32 ounces beef bone broth (or beef broth)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 head cauliflower, diced
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups fresh spinach (5 ounces) or kale
- salt and pepper, optional
- crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- shredded parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
Why we love it: We love how filling this hearty soup recipe is. If you want to pack in a little extra spice for heat, substitute the mild sausage with spicy Italian sausage. This soup is protein-packed from the meat to the bone broth and perfect for cold winter nights by the fire.
Keto Mexican Chicken Soup for Your Crockpot from Low Carb Yum
- 1 ½ pounds chicken pieces boneless/skinless
- 15.5 ounces chunky salsa
- 15 ounces chicken bone broth
- 8 ounces Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese cubed or shredded
Why we love it: This recipe is easy to make and will always hit the spot. The only part of this ingredient list that you need to be cautious about buying is salsa. Some salsas will have added sugar content.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from Delish
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed (seeds removed)
- 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1-quart low-sodium chicken broth
Easy Pork Posole from Taste of Home
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder butt roast, cubed
- 1/2 pound fully cooked andouille sausage links, sliced
- 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 can (16 ounces) hominy, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- Optional: Corn tortillas, additional chopped onion, minced fresh cilantro, and lime wedges
Why we love it: This soup recipe is a traditional Mexican dish that we adore! It’s packed with protein and vegetables. If you want to eat tortillas with it, make sure to opt for corn tortillas instead of flour.
Classic Tomato Soup from Cookie and Kate
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 large can (28 ounces) of whole tomatoes, with their liquid
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup cooked Great Northern beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into a few pieces
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or brown sugar, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- For the tomato-basil variation (optional): 10 to 15 fresh basil leaves, to taste
Why we love it: This recipe not only has whole vegetables in it but has the added protein and fiber from the beans. This version is one of our favorite takes on tomato soup because of how filling it is.
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