Try These 10 Healthy Soups and Stew Recipes

There’s a nip in the air, and the scuttle of autumn leaves scraping across the pavement remind us that cool days and long nights are approaching. It is the time of year for comfort foods — bowls of savory soups, chilies and stews. Traditional soup and stew recipes often rely on heavy, less-than-healthy ingredients such as butter, salt and overly processed flour.

The National Institutes of Health have come up with several healthy alternatives that fill the belly without expanding the waistline while providing essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein to keep your strong through the winter months. These recipes can all be prepared within an hour and only needs the addition of a tossed salad to make a complete and satisfying meal. Click on the recipe title for complete cooking instructions.

Creamy squash soup with shredded apples

Nothing says comfort better than this creamy blend of autumn’s harvest. The butternut squash base is jam-packed with vitamin A and a good dose of potassium, magnesium and fiber. Apples add just the right amount of sweetness and, with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice, you have all the flavor of everyone’s favorite holiday pie without the fat and sugar. This soup can be on the table in 30 minutes, making it a perfect choice for busy weeknight dinners.

Edamame stew

Edamame, pronounced ed·uh·mah·may, is the Japanese name for young soybeans. If you frequent sushi restaurants, you may be familiar with this popular bean. Serve boiled and salted in their pods, Edamame is a popular snack food in the Land of the Rising Sun. Shelled and simmered with vegetables, it provides the base for this protein-packed stew (a whopping 16 grams per serving!)

Japanese-style beef and noodle soup

This vegetable beef soup takes on an oriental twist with Asian noodles and a dash of soy sauce. The silken tofu adds a creamy texture as well as protein, making this a stick-to-your-ribs soup hearty enough to serve as a main course. Flavorful shiitake mushrooms have anti-viral and immunity-enhancing properties that will give you a healthy edge during cold and flu season.

Moroccan chicken stew with couscous

This budget-minded recipe is packed with flavor, utilizing Moroccan seasonings for an ethnic flair. Couscous, the starch in this stew, is similar to pasta, but is made with whole grain semolina making it rich in protein, fiber and B vitamins. This recipe is easily adapted to slow cookers making it a good choice for busy weeknights. Place chicken parts in the cooker and top with remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for 5 1/2 to 6 hours. Prepare couscous 15 minutes before dinnertime and you are good to go.

Spanish-style shrimp stew

This simple stew is a tasty way to reap the benefits of shrimp. Shrimp is a low-calorie source of protein that is rich in zinc, a mineral that aids the immune system. Although this little crustacean has gotten a bad rap for being high in cholesterol, nutritionists believe this downside to shrimp is counteracted by its omega-3 fatty acids, which help to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Shrimp is also a good source of the antioxidant and anti-inflamatory nutrient astaxanthin (this is where shrimp get their pink color.) Astaxanthin supports and protects the nervous system and studies have found it effective in treating neurological diseases.

Three-bean chili with chunky tomatoes

This vegetarian take on a game-day classic is so full of texture and flavor even die-hard beefeaters will be back for a second bowl. The combination of black, kidney and pinto beans makes it a filling source of fiber and protein. The seasoned tomatoes provide a good dose of vitamin C and antioxidants that fight disease by ridding the body of toxic free radicals. Have a crowd coming over? Double the recipe and throw it in a slow cooker for easy entertaining.

“Lite” chicken and dumplings

This lighter version of the traditional comfort food comes from the chefs of the ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss. Made with skinless chicken breast and a low-fat cream base, this hearty meal provides 4 ounces of protein and two servings of vegetables per serving. Dumplings made from Low-fat Bisquick mix top off  this dish without adding the saturated fat found in traditional dumplings.

Tuscan vegetable soup

From Central Italy, this flavorful soup is chockfull of vegetables. Cannellini beans add a healthy serving of protein to satisfy appetites. Replace chicken stock with vegetable broth and eliminate the Parmesan cheese for a vegan version. Serve with a crusty loaf of Italian bread for a hearty meal.

Spicy lentil soup

Lentils are high in soluble fiber, which studies have shown can lower your risk of heart disease. They also aid digestion and help stabilize blood sugar. These protein-packed low calorie beans will satisfy hunger while providing essential vitamins and minerals. If your experience with lentils has been a dull-colored, bland soup, try this spicy version. You may be pleasantly surprised and want to add this economical recipe into your monthly meal rotation.

Eggplant tomato stew

A staple in Middle Eastern cooking, eggplant is a high fiber vegetable loaded with anti-oxidants. Stewed with lycopene-rich tomatoes, this spicy dish uses a pinch of cayenne pepper to give it a little kick. It is simple to prepare — you don’t even need to peel the eggplant. This recipe is both vegan and paleo-friendly.