4 Tricks To Turn A Bowl Of Soup Into A Protein-Packed, Fiber-Filled Meal
Soup is a fall and winter staple—super (SOUPer?) simple to make, easy to pack with vegetables, and utterly warm, comforting, and delicious. But sometimes, it can feel like it goes straight through you, leaving you hangry and reaching for a less-than-healthy snack hours later. Never fear: With a few easy tweaks, you can turn any soup into a dish that's very much meal-worthy. Here's what to do:
1. Blend in hulled hemp seeds.
This works especially well for blended soups or anything with a creamy base. Hulled hemp seeds are a great, plant-based protein source! In fact, 30 grams of hemp seeds (about 2 to 3 tablespoons) contains a whopping 11 grams—plus, that's complete protein, which means it contains all of the amino acids that our bodies need to function optimally. Hemp hearts also contain healthy fat—about 15 grams per 30-gram serving, much of which is from heart-healthy omega-3s. That one-two punch of protein and fat goes a long way to fill you up.
To spike blended soups with hemp hearts, just toss a few spoonfuls into the blender with everything else you're whizzing up. If you're working a creamy based soup, blend the hemp hearts with whatever base liquid you're using (nondairy milk, veggie stock) before continuing with your recipe as normal. And if you're wondering: They won't change the flavor in any noticeable way.
2. Wilt in greens.
Have you ever seen what happens when you start sautéing a huge amount of greens? The pile gets tinier and tinier and tinier, until you're looking at a palm-size amount and wondering why you ever munch your way through huge bowls of salad in the first place. The same thing applies to soups.
You can wilt a ton of greens into almost any soup—think heaping handfuls of spinach (the most neutral), kale, arugula, watercress (a more peppery option). The greens add in fiber, and the roughage will literally help fill up your belly. Plus, you're getting a ton of other health benefits from the greens—a win-win if we ever heard one.
3. Add legumes.
The great thing about legumes is that they come in many different varieties, so there's pretty much one that pairs with every type of soup. Beyond that, you don't even need to know they're in there! Monique Volz, the healthy recipe whiz behind Ambitious Kitchen, makes her creamy chili chicken with no cream whatsoever by blending white beans into the base. This trick can be used in the same manner as the hulled hemp seeds to add creaminess to any soup while making it far more satiating. Chickpeas are a great addition to Middle Eastern or Indian soups, while black and pinto beans play well with Mexican flavors. Any legume will add a hefty dose of fiber and protein, both of which will keep you full long after you've finished your bowl.
4. Play around with your toppings.
Toppings add visual interest and a variety of textures to soups, which will make you psychologically more satisfied with what you're eating—plus, they have the potential to add a ton of healthy fat, fiber, and protein. Sliced avocado, lightly toasted nuts and seeds, torn herbs, a spoonful of rice or quinoa, some shredded pastured rotisserie chicken, a fried egg, a handful of slivered carrots or beets—all of these will help keep you full longer, but they'll also make your soup way more delicious and fun to eat.
Liz Moody is an author, blogger and recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody has written two cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. She also hosts the Healthier Together Podcast, where she chats with notable chefs, nutritionists, and best-selling authors about their paths to success. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Food & Wine & Women’s Health.