by Katie Chapmon, MS, RDN
Fall marks the transition from summer to winter when daylight becomes shorter and the temperatures start to cool. The possibilities and opportunities of summer are passing, and the chill of winter is on the horizon. With the changing of the leaves and the crispness that enters into the air, there’s nothing like a hot bowl of soup or stew to make you feel comfortable and relaxed.
When thinking of these traditional meat and vegetable medleys, we’re often left with the thought of a heavy comfort food. There are a couple of different tips and tricks to make your favorite warm meal without compromising your health goals.
It’s All about the Base
Traditional broths for soups and stews can be on the heavier side, especially if using a heavy cream or sauce. Start with a light chicken, beef or veggie broth. You can thicken up the broth a couple of different ways. If using meat, add some of the drippings. If using vegetables, blend some of the root vegetables in the broth. For each base, a longer cooking time will help to thicken up the liquid.
Adding vegetables to your soup or stew increases your fiber intake with every bite. Fiber is not only great for your digestive tract, but it also makes you full for longer. For an added bonus, save money and experiment with different vegetables by opting for seasonal ingredients.
Utilize Whole Wheat
Many soups and stews call for noodles, but instead of skipping noodles altogether, make a tiny swap that will save calories and boost the nutrition. Use a whole wheat variety of your favorite pasta or spiralize vegetables like zucchini or yellow squash.
Stews are often made to be ladled over a scoop of rice that soaks up all of the delicious flavors. Change out the grain that you’ll pour your stew over so that you can get additional fiber and protein. Quinoa, farro and barley are all delicious and hearty options, or you could even try some riced cauliflower.
Gather up the Protein
Adding in a variety of proteins and making them the main player in your soup or stew can add flavor and fullness. Cubed beef, shredded chicken and shrimp all have a place in the pot! Increasing the protein doesn’t only have to mean adding meat. Vegetarian stews are just as filling and delicious. For a vegetarian option, use beans or legumes for a hearty dose of protein.
Ditch the Store Brand and Make Your Own!
Creating your own soup or stew can satisfy that warm and cozy autumn feeling. With a mix of healthy carbs, lean proteins and lots of veggies, a bowl of soup or stew has all the makings of a well-rounded meal to enjoy with friends or on your own.
Healthy Soup and Stew Recipes:
Instead of cracking open a can from the supermarket (which tend to be high in sodium), try one of these easy recipes for your fall soup or stew needs.
Colorful Autumn Vegetable Soup
Adapted from TheHealthyMaven.com
Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small sweet potato (about 1 cup), chopped
- 1 cup peeled butternut squash, chopped
- 2 cups cauliflower florets, chopped
- 2 cups sliced cabbage
- 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning (or a mixture of dried parsley, basil and oregano)
- ½ tsp. cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
- Heat up a large pot over medium-high heat and add olive oil.
- Throw in onion, carrot and celery and cook for 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add in garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add in sweet potato, butternut squash and cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes.
- Top with cabbage, diced tomatoes, vegetable stock and spices. Then stir.
- Bring to a boil and then let simmer, uncovered over medium heat for 30 min.
- Top with fresh parsley and serve warm.
Note: This soup will keep for a week in the refrigerator and freeze well for several months.
Carrot Ginger Soup
Adapted from TheSkinnyTaste.com
Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Note: You can make this soup vegan or dairy-free by swapping the cream for coconut milk.
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (use oil if dairy-free)
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 lb. peeled baby carrots
- 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream, vegan sour cream or coconut milk for dairy-free
- Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. fresh micro greens or chives for garnish
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring often until they are soft.
- Add broth, carrots and ginger. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft, about 30 minutes.
- Add sour cream by using an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Carefully blend until smooth. Bring soup back to a boil and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle into 4 bowls and garnish with a little more sour cream and fresh chives if desired.
Spicy Cauliflower, Kale and Chickpea Stew
Adapted from TheFirstMess.com
Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Note: The amount of vegetable stock you use should depend on how thick or thin you want your stew. This recipe goes for something in between.
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 cooking onion, diced small
- 1 Tbsp. curry powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Small jalapeño or cayenne pepper, seeded + minced (optional)
- ½ cup waxy potatoes, diced
- 3 cups small cauliflower florets
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1-2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (drained of any liquid)
- 1 bunch Lacinato/Tuscan kale, stems removed and chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped leafy herbs to finish (parsley, cilantro, etc.)
- Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook slowly, lowering heat if necessary. Cook until very soft, translucent and almost breaking down, about 6-7 minutes. Add the curry powder and bay leaf and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and jalapeño (if using). Stir and cook until fragrant, constantly stirring to avoid burning the garlic.
- Add the potatoes and cauliflower to the pot and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir once more. At this point, add 1 cup vegetable stock (you may want to add more later). Stir, place a lid on top and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and remove the lid. Cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 40 minutes. Add the chickpeas and diced kale and simmer for 5 more minutes or until greens have wilted.
- Check the curry for seasoning, adjust, and serve hot. Try over naan, brown rice, quinoa or on its own. Garnish with chopped leafy herbs.
About the Author:
Katie Chapmon, MS, RD, is a Los Angeles-based Registered Dietitian specializing in the field of metabolic surgery and weight management since 2008. She currently works with individuals in-person and virtually all across the country. She plays active roles on committees with the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group. For more information about Katie Chapmon, visit KatieChapmon.com.
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