Eating more plant-based foods such as veggies, beans and whole grains can aid weight-loss, lower the risk of heart disease and improve gut health thanks to an increase in fiber. Perfect for colder weather, soups are comforting and filling. They’re an ideal vehicle for trying new veggies and great for meal prep. These 14 hearty plant-based soups all clock in under 340 calories per serving.
1. INSTANT POT MINESTRONE
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 338; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 2mg; Sodium: 660mg; Carbohydrate: 53g; Dietary Fiber: 12g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 14g
Use the Instant Pot to produce a hearty, vegetable-packed soup in 30 minutes, start to finish. Cooking the chickpea pasta separately ensures it won’t become mushy in the soup, so it’s worth the extra step. A swirl of fresh pesto adds a pop of color and freshness to this wintery soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (45g) chopped fennel bulb
3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup (59ml) dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups (360g) canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 cups (150g) cauliflower (2-inch/5cm) florets
1 small zucchini, diced
1 (15-ounce/435g) can low-sodium kidney beans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup (56g) protein-plus chickpea elbow pasta, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup (118ml) fresh pesto
Put the oil in the Instant Pot, select sauté, and adjust to high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 seconds.
Add the wine and simmer, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, until nearly evaporated, 1 minute. Press cancel. Add the broth, tomatoes and cauliflower. Lock the lid and turn the valve to sealing. Select pressure cook, adjust to high pressure, and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the cook time is up, turn the valve to venting to quick release the pressure.
Carefully unlock the lid and stir in the zucchini, beans, salt and pepper. Select sauté and adjust to medium heat. Cover with a regular pan lid and simmer until the zucchini is just cooked, 10 minutes. Stir in the pasta.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with 1 tablespoon of pesto per bowl. Cool leftovers and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 1/8 cup (415g)
2. Creamy Roasted Cauliflower soup
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 268; Total Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 838mg; Carbohydrate: 32g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 10g
Roasting the cauliflower for this vegan soup makes it nutty and cancels out any of the brassica funk cauliflower can have when boiled. Oat milk and a russet potato make the soup thick and creamy, without adding any dairy. A stick blender, also called an immersion blender, is an inexpensive kitchen gadget that makes pureed soups a breeze to throw together, but a regular kitchen blender works, too.
Active time: 20 minutes Total time: 45 minutes
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 medium (2-pound/907g) head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 medium (8 ounce/227g) russet potato, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup (237ml) plain unsweetened oat or hemp milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1–2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Cut the cauliflower into 2-inch florets and thinly slice the center stalk. Toss the cauliflower, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, pepper and salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast cauliflower until deep brown in places, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and beginning to brown, 5 minutes. Peel the garlic cloves and discard skins. Put the cauliflower and garlic in the pot, reserving 1/2 cup (40g) of the smallest cauliflower pieces for garnish. Add the broth, potatoes and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, 25 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf. Add the oat milk and puree the soup with an immersion blender in the pot until smooth. Alternatively, blend in batches in a regular blender with the lid slightly ajar to let the steam escape. Add the nutmeg and stir to combine. If the soup is too thick, add warm water to adjust. Serve, garnished with the reserved roasted cauliflower and parsley.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 1/3 cups (315ml)
3. Roasted Broccoli-Cheese Soup
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 226; Total Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 24mg; Sodium: 508mg; Carbohydrate: 19g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 7g; Protein 13g
This slimmed-down version of the usually indulgent soup begins by roasting the broccoli for more flavor. It gets nicely browned with frizzled edges, lending more depth to the soup. For the creamiest results, shred your own cheese from a block; pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents that could make the soup’s texture gritty.
Active time: 8 minutes Total time: 30 minutes
Roasted Broccoli-Cheese Soup
1 pound (454g) fresh broccoli florets
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2/3 cup (88g) onion, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups (591ml) low-sodium vegetable broth
1/3 cup (44g) all-purpose flour
2 cups (473ml) 1% reduced-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 ounces (170g) reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230ºC). Coat a large sheet pan with cooking spray. Toss together the broccoli and 1 tablespoon oil on the pan. Roast until tender and browned, 18–20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the broth and flour. Add the broth mixture, milk, salt and cayenne pepper to the pan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; gradually add cheese, stirring until the cheese melts.
Coarsely chop the cooked broccoli and stir into the soup.
Serves: 6 | Serving Size: About 1 cup
4. TOMATO BASIL SOUP WITH GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 233; Total Fat: 11g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 21mg; Sodium: 618mg; Carbohydrate: 21g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 10g
Broiling high-quality, canned San Marzano tomatoes intensifies their flavor, making this soup taste as if you’ve just plucked the tomatoes in the height of summer. Crunchy croutons made of cubes of grilled cheese add a fun, comfort-food feel.
Active time: 15 minutes Total time: 30 minutes
Tomato Basil Soup With Grilled Cheese Croutons
1 28-ounce (794g) can low-sodium, whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes with juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon no salt-added tomato paste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups (591ml) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 slices 100% whole-grain bread (such as Dave’s Killer Whole-Grain Bread)
1/2 cup (57g) cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise (such as Just Mayo)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Tear the tomatoes in half with your fingers, letting the juices drip back into the can. Set the juices aside. Arrange the tomatoes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place the pan on a rack 6 inches (15cm) below the broiling element. Broil the tomatoes, rotating the pan once, until the tomatoes are a blackened in places, about 10 minutes.
While the tomatoes are broiling, heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme and sauté until onions are tender, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup (125ml) water, reserved tomato juice and broth; bring to a simmer. When the tomatoes are ready, add them to the pot, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Blend the soup in the pot with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender with the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Stir in the basil and keep warm over low heat.
For the croutons, spread the mayo one one side of each piece of bread and place 2 slices mayo side-down on a cutting board. Spread evenly with the cheese and place remaining bread slices mayo side-up on top to make 2 sandwiches. Heat a large, non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the sandwiches, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Cut the sandwiches into 1-inch squares. Serve the soup with the grilled cheese squares sprinkled on top.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups soup, about 1/2 sandwich