Tips for Great Low Carb Soups
Who doesn’t love a good soup? Whether you’re looking for a nice, light soup to accompany your meal, or a rich, hearty chowder to warm you up on a cold day, there are soups for every taste and every occasion. As part of a low carb diet, soups are perfect to include in your weekly meal plans, since they can be easily made fast, healthy, and low carb. In this article, we’ll go through some handy tips you can use when it comes to soup, including what are the best ingredients to choose and which ones to avoid. We also provide a couple of amazing soup recipes that you’ve just got to try. Let’s get cooking!
Main Sources of Carbs in Soups
While on the surface, it might seem like soups would already be very low in carbs, there are many instances where this is not the case. There are certain ingredients that can really raise up the carb count in a soup, and when choosing a soup recipe or a packaged soup, these are the things you need to watch for to make sure the carb count stays low.
This may surprise you, but it’s amazing just how many soups have more sugar than you’d expect. Tomato-based soups, especially prepared soups, can have as many as 15 grams of sugar per serving. This is also common with soups labeled with words like ‘bbq’ or ‘southwest’, since they often take much of their flavour from barbecue sauces and other sauces that can be very high in sugar. A quick scan over the nutrient label on packaged soups can let you know exactly whether the soup is a good choice. If you’re preparing your soup from scratch, be wary of those recipes that call for sweet ingredients or sauces, and swap them out for low-sugar or sugar-free alternatives.
It’s not just noodles that bring the starches and carbs in to soups. Things like potatoes and peas can bring up the carb count of a soup. For example, split pea soup, although it is also a good source of fiber, definitely carries a lot of carbs in it. If you’re looking for a hearty soup or a soup that has a creamier texture, there are plenty of alternatives to pick from, such as chowders and stews.
For soups that rely on noodles, you can simply swap in a low carb noodle alternative, or if they aren’t really critical, you can leave them out altogether. Potatoes are also easy to substitute to make soup recipes lower in carbs. Instead of potatoes, you could use things like cauliflower or turnip, both of which are much lower in carbs than potatoes and work very well in soups and stews.
One of the most common issues that people find when exploring soups as part of a healthy lifestyle, is that the salt content can be quite high. This is especially prevalent in prepared and packaged soups, which can be exceedingly high in salt. Fortunately, there are usually low-salt alternatives available from many big brands that are clearly marked on the labels. For homemade soups, reducing the salt is as simple as just adjusting the recipe so that you add salt to taste when it’s served instead of while it’s simmering. This way everyone can adjust to their own taste, or skip the salt entirely if they choose to.
Best Low Carb Soup Ingredients
Now that you know some of the common red-flags to look for when it comes to soups, let’s start exploring some of the best ingredients to include in low carb soup recipes.
Meats and Proteins
This should come as no surprise, but the best soups for low carb dieters tend to have a hefty serving of meat in them. Most commonly, the meats used in soups are chicken, beef, and seafood such as shrimp, clams, and lobster. These are all excellent choices for a wide variety of soups, and are perfectly at home in light, broth soups or hearty, creamy chowders.
Whichever meat best fits the type of soup you are making, feel free to prepare it however you’d like to suit your tastes. Some people prefer smaller pieces of meat in their soups, and others enjoy larger chunks, but there’s generally no right or wrong way to do this. Stick with the way you prefer, and your soup will come out just fine.
Low carb dieters have a wide array of vegetable options to choose from when preparing soups. Some of the most common vegetable ingredients that are perfect for low carb dieters include things like celery, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and peppers. While there are countless recipes that feature tomatoes as a key ingredient, tomatoes tend to have much higher sugar and carb counts than other vegetables. If a tomato-based soup is part of your plan, it’s best to be very particular about the other ingredients that you include, and make every effort to keep the carb count as low as possible.
Seasonings & Sauces
As we mentioned earlier, many soups have a much higher amount of sugar than most people would expect, and a lot of this will come from sauces that are added as part of the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for bbq sauce, or some other sauce that is typically high in sugar, swap it out for one that is a sugar-free alternative, like this amazing sugar-free bbq sauce from Crazy Mooskies. The goal here is to keep the big, bold flavour you want, but cut the sugar out of the recipe.
So, keeping all these things in mind, you’re probably ready to start hunting for some great new recipes to try as part of your meal plan this week. Once you start scanning through an endless list of amazing soup recipes, you might find it hard to settle on just one or two. Let us help you out by recommending a couple of our favourite soup recipes that are great options for a low carb lifestyle.
For a Lighter Flavour
Asian-inspired soups are extremely popular for their wide range of tastes and unusual vegetable combinations. This recipe for Asian Beef Noodle Soup from Melissa over at IBreatheImHungry.com is loaded with protein and tasty vegetables, and features a lighter broth with a fresh flavour. We recommend using Miracle Noodles Shiratake Angel Hair noodles which keeps the carb count way down, and work great in soups like this.
For a Hearty Soup
Here’s a recipe for a hearty, creamy soup that is going to knock your socks off! This Cauliflower Chowder recipe from Chungah over at DamnDelicious.net is the perfect soup to try on a chilly day and will warm you up from head to toe. The nice thing about this recipe is that it can easily be altered however you like, such as adding chicken or swapping out the carrots for another of your favourite vegetables. And, although it calls for all-purpose flour in the recipe, this can easily be substituted with a low-carb flour like this one from LC Foods to help bring the carb count even lower.
Soups are such a great fit for the low carb diet, you’ll wonder why you didn’t include more of them in your meal plan right from the start. One of the best things about soup recipes is just how easy they are to customize to your own tastes and preferences. As we mentioned, if salt content is a concern for you, simply leave it out. If you think a recipe would be even better with some shrimp thrown in, then go for it! Getting creative with your soups is a good way to explore new flavours and tastes, as well as help bring the carb count down on some recipes that you’d otherwise avoid.
We certainly hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration to work some new soups in to your routine. Now, get out there and get cooking!