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6/22/2022
Recipes

Summer Soup Recipes: An Expert Weighs in on 13 Healthy Soup Options

Written by
Natalie Krafft
Team Nutrisense
Reviewed by
Carlee Hayes
RDN, CD
a bowl of veggies and mushroom soup

Summertime is upon us! And although soup may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a cool, refreshing meal, a surprising number of cold soup recipes make for a summer meal.

Soup is estimated to have originated in China as far back as 20,000 BC, and it’s since made its way into almost every culture worldwide. 

To help you make the most of the warmer weather, we asked Carlee Hayes, RDN, CD, and Nutrition Manager here at Nutrisense, to share a few of her favorite summer soup recipes. They'll help you stay cool and get the nutrients your body needs. Read on to find out more about the soups she recommended.

13 Summer Soups we Love

From gazpacho to creamy avocado soup, there are many unique ways to prepare your summer vegetables into a hearty and flavorful meal. 

Summer may call for cold soups most of the time, but there are a few hot ones we love that can still hit the spot in warmer weather. 

We’ve chosen various flavors and styles so almost anyone can find a new soup to enjoy with friends and family. We've got you covered whether you’re looking for hot or cold soups, plant-based options, low-carb, or gluten-free recipes. 

1) Chilled Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil

two bowls of tomato soup

This cold, refreshing soup is the perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors and is full of vitamins and minerals. Pair it with some whole grain crackers for the perfect crunch.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1½ cups orange juice, preferably not from concentrate
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 10 leaves fresh basil, plus more for garnishing soup
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream

What Carlee Thinks

This soup is an excellent combination of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To improve the nutrient density of this dish, consider swapping the heavy cream for coconut milk or good-quality whole milk! 

I’d recommend using fresh-squeezed orange juice and omitting the added sugar to make it more glucose-friendly, as added sugars are more likely to cause higher blood sugar responses.

To make this soup part of a balanced meal, pair it with a high-quality protein source (think grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu) and eat that portion first. It's an easy way to mitigate larger blood sugar spikes!

2) Summer Vegetable Soup

This hearty soup is filled with nutritious vegetables and a great plant-based protein and fiber source. Try making it on a rainy summer night for the perfect comfort meal. 

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup sliced zucchini
  • 1 can (15 ounces) navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled red potato
  • 1/2 cup cut fresh green beans (2-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled tomato
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

What Carlee Thinks

This soup is full of nutritious vegetables, fiber, and plant-powered protein, making it a great choice for anyone looking for an easy meal to throw together. To make this a part of a balanced meal, pair it with your favorite protein food!

3) Watermelon Gazpacho

two bowls of gazpacho with veggies

This unique take on a Spanish classic is a light, refreshing lunch or snack option to try out on a hot summer day. It has the perfect combination of fresh fruits and vegetables packed with crisp flavors.

Ingredients

  • 4 Heaping cups cubed, seedless watermelon
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • ⅓ cup chopped green onions, diced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Small handful basil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, optional
  • Diced avocado, optional
  • Microgreens, optional for garnish

What Carlee Thinks

This gazpacho recipe is an easy way to add extra vegetables into your diet without even noticing! Research shows that vinegar consumption before meals may even help mitigate glucose spikes, so this is a perfect soup to have before the main meal to reap those benefits.

4) Asparagus Soup

This creamy, vegetable-packed soup makes for a tasty, satiating, low-calorie meal. It makes for a great afternoon snack or can even be a side dish to pair with your meal.

Ingredients

  • Trimmed stems from 2 pounds asparagus, roughly chopped
  • Green tops of 1 large leek, rinsed of sand and grit
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 9 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, rinsed of sand and grit and sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 to 7 cups asparagus broth
  • 2 pounds asparagus, woody ends trimmed and used for broth
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • Half of a lemon, cut into wedges
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Fresh shaved or grated parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

What Carlee Thinks

This soup is another great way to sneak more vegetables into your diet to ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need. Asparagus is high in fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K and is a great vegetable to add to your diet.

5) Cold Avocado Soup

a bowl of avocado soup topped with seeds

This thick and creamy cold soup, full of protein and healthy fats, is a great summertime option.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Hass avocado ripe, diced (6 ounces without refuse)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro plus a few leaves for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup cold water plus more as needed

What Carlee Thinks

The healthy fats from the avocado pair very nicely with the protein from the Greek yogurt to make for a nutritious and satisfying meal that won’t spike your blood sugar. Avocados are a great source of potassium, folate, and monounsaturated fats.

6) Sweet Corn Chicken Soup

a bowl of chicken and corn soup

This sweet and satisfying take on chicken soup is delicious and easy to make. It’s sure to hit the spot after a long day and is full of comforting flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ cup onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 medium chicken breast
  • ½ cup fresh corn kernel
  • 1.5 cup creamed corn
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Green onion for garnishing

What Carlee Thinks

This chicken soup recipe is an excellent source of high-quality protein and carbohydrates, and it’s as easy as adding a few simple ingredients to your shopping list. 

You can even easily add in a few more vegetables to up the vitamin and mineral content! 

Consider adding in some leafy greens like chopped kale or spinach to balance out the starches from the corn.

7) Summer Squash Soup

This rich and flavor-packed soup will satisfy your craving for a hearty, comforting meal, even when it’s hot outside. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 cups finely diced yellow summer squash
  • 1 cup peeled and diced Yukon gold potato
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika plus extra for topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne pepper optional
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk plus extra for topping
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro for topping

What Carlee Thinks

Squash is full of essential vitamins, so this recipe is a great thing to throw together now and then to ensure you’re getting them in your diet. The many herbs and spices don’t only add flavor. They also have many health benefits and can even help regulate blood sugar.

8) Mediterranean White Bean Soup

two bowls of white bean soup

This vegan soup is full of protein, fiber, and delicious flavor. Surprise your house guests with this flavorful soup that everyone will love!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 to 3 large carrots chopped
  • 2 to 3 celery rib chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 (15-ounce) canned white beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Fresh parsley finely chopped, for serving
  • Grated parmesan cheese for serving (omit if vegan)

What Carlee Thinks

This soup is a great option for anyone, not just vegans and vegetarians, as it’s full of nutritious protein and fiber and is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Celery is also great for keeping your blood sugar levels steady. Remember that beans are a source of carbohydrates, so opt for a moderate portion of this soup and pair it with your favorite protein food or a leafy green salad!

9) Spicy Zucchini Soup

This zucchini soup can be served hot or cold and is a great way to add a little spice to your day. 

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño chile, chopped, seeds, stems, and ribs removed and discarded
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 pounds zucchini, chopped (skin on), about 5 to 6 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups day-old bread, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock for vegan option)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed, chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Lemon wedges (for garnish), optional

What Carlee Thinks

This soup is another great source of essential nutrients and can make for a great meal when paired with a high-quality source of protein. Try cutting up some lean chicken to toss in or eat on the side to balance this meal.

10) Veggie Tortilla Soup

a bowl of tortilla soup

This vegetarian take on a timeless tortilla soup is earthy and full of yummy herbs and spices. The black beans are a great source of protein and fiber, and the Tex-Mex flavors will satisfy your spicy cravings. 

Ingredients

  • 2 mild dried chili peppers* or 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder, to taste
  • 1 can (15-ounce) diced or crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if possible
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt, more to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 cans (15-ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked black beans
  • 4 cups (32-ounce) vegetable broth
  • 4 corn tortillas, cut into 2-inch long, ¼-inch-wide strips
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Garnish options: Thinly sliced and roughly chopped radish, diced ripe avocado, crumbled feta cheese, or drizzle of sour cream

What Carlee Thinks

It's a great vegetarian option full of all the macronutrients most people need for a balanced diet. Black beans are high in protein, calcium, and phosphorus. This is a higher carbohydrate soup, so it might be best to time this around times of best insulin sensitivity, such as after exercise or earlier in the day (think lunchtime meal!).

11) Simple Summer Corn Soup

This simple corn soup is fun to make at home and full of delicious creamy flavor. It can easily be made as a vegan dish, but you can also add dairy products if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 small red potatoes (quartered)
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 ears corn (kernels sliced off)
  • 2 cups low sodium veggie broth
  • 2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (or regular milk if not vegan)
  • 2 to 3 stalks green onions (for garnish, chopped)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor

What Carlee Thinks

This tasty soup is great as a treat on special occasions, but be sure to be mindful of portion sizes as it contains high levels of carbohydrates. To help regulate blood sugar levels, toss in chunks of tofu, ground beef/pork, or chicken to boost the protein content, or pair it with a side salad with a vinaigrette for a balanced meal!

12) Summer Borscht

a bowl of borsch

This easy and elegant borscht recipe is full of flavor and is refreshing to snack on during a hot afternoon.

Ingredients

  • 4 (about 1 1/2 pounds) red beets peeled if desired and coarsely chopped
  • 3 (about 7 ounces) carrots coarsely chopped
  • 2 (about 4 ounces) celery stalks chopped
  • 1 small onion coarsely chopped
  • One can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 5 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
  • To serve
  • Heavy cream or sour cream (optional)
  • Chives, snipped (optional)

What Carlee Thinks

Beets are high in fiber and vitamin C, and adding them into your diet via a tasty soup is an easy way to take advantage of these nutrients and get some extra veggies on your plate. 

13) Chilled Minestrone Soup

This classic soup is easy to throw together and full of all the flavors you know and love. Plus, the chilled version is a great dinner option that will keep you full on a summer night.  

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried flageolets, rinsed and picked over; discard cracked ones
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half
  • One 3/4-ounce bunch marjoram
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 large patty pan squashes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling (optional)
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 large, or 1 small, bulb fennel, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 3 thin carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick circles
  • 1 1/2 quarts canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 ear corn, kernels removed
  • 1 to 2 young small zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/3-inch-thick quarter moons
  • 1/4 pound mixed fresh green beans, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • Basil puree, optional

What Carlee Thinks

Minestrone is rich in fiber, supporting gut health and digestion. This recipe is a great option to boost your veggie intake and can be a satisfying way to batch cook for the work week!

The Research on Healthy Soups and Blood Sugar Levels

a bowl of noodle soup and a spoon

Soup can be a quick, easy, and nutritious meal or snack year-round. There are endless styles and variations of soup, but it’s essential to keep blood sugar in mind, especially if you’re at risk of diabetes.

One thing to note is that starches such as potatoes and corn, common ingredients found in soups, can lead to blood sugar spikes, so adding additional sources of fiber and protein to your soup can help blunt these spikes.

Soups with high fiber content or added protein can often be good options for stabilizing your blood sugar, as they take longer for the body to digest and are very satiating. Luckily, it’s easy to customize any soup to your liking to ensure it has a healthy balance of these nutrients.

Many soups are also high in sodium, so preparing a healthy soup at home is an excellent option as it allows you to control the added amount. Salt may not affect your blood sugar, but eating too much of it can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure.

How to Make Your Soup Healthier

Making homemade soup from scratch has several benefits. For one, if you have extra vegetables piled up in your fridge, tossing them into a soup is a great way to add fiber and vitamins into your diet while not letting food go to waste. 

Making your meal at home also allows you to control the amount of butter, oil, and salt that goes into it, which can be helpful for anyone looking to limit their intake of those ingredients. Here are a few more easy tricks to turn any soup into a healthier meal.

  • Add in extra leafy green and non-starchy vegetables for antioxidants, fiber, and increased vitamin and mineral content
  • Add in your protein of choice (high-quality proteins like lean chicken breast or other minimally processed options) to give your soup a new twist and to make it more filling
  • Swap out sour cream for plain Greek yogurt as a garnish on top for a balancing addition of acid, and a higher protein content
  • Swap out the heavy cream for coconut milk for an alternative if you’re dairy-free

Soup Sides we Love

a bowl of warm soup with sides

You can have many healthy additions as a side dish to complement your healthy soup. For example, the classic soup and salad combination is a great way to increase your intake of leafy greens. Aim to steer clear of refined carbs from things like croutons and instead swap them out for crunchy vegetables or homemade cheese crackers.

  • A handful of nuts such as almonds or pecans
  • A side salad with a light dressing and non-starchy vegetables like onions, cucumbers, and tomato
  • High-fiber crackers topped with cheese
  • A side of chicken, steak, or tofu (can also be tossed into a salad)
Related Article

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