Eating on a Budget: Healthy Soup Ideas & Tips

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Not All Soup is Created Equal

Soup never seems to get the respect it deserves. It picks us up when we’re sick with its warm, sinus opening, brothy goodness, but we always seem to toss it aside for more exciting foods as soon as we get well.

Not all soup is good for you. Cream and butter laden bowls of soup can raise your cholesterol levels, but you can have a creamy soup and make it healthy too. As unintuitive as this may sound, you don’t need cream or even dairy products to make a soup creamy. You can always substitute a non-dairy milk like almond, soy, or rice that’s more heart healthy, or simply use non-fat milk.

Tips for Healthier, Budget-Friendly Cream Soups

Another thing you can do is mash a cooked potato and add it to your soup for a potassium rich, non-fat, creamy veggie soup. A super quick recipe is to cook two large diced potatoes and one mashed garlic clove in soup pot, cover with water and cook until a fork can easily pierce the potatoes. Add a bag of frozen broccoli (or any other vegetable you’d like) and cook for about 10 minutes more, until the broccoli turns bright green and is tender. Add in some spices of your choice (I like tarragon and nutmeg), and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Puree with a hand blender if you have one, or in small batches in a regular blender or food processor. This non-fat delight is approximately 150 calories per serving that costs less than $5 to feed the whole family a nutritious dinner.

Pureed soups are a great way to trick picky eaters into trying new veggies. Next time you make tomato soup try adding precooked butternut squash and chickpeas for a really nutritious treat. The soup will still be a deep orange-red, so the kids won’t blink an eye. Chickpeas and white beans are just another way to make a pureed soup seem creamy. This works with canned condensed soups as well as on homemade ones.

Please continue on to the final page of this Budget Eating article to discover some inexpensive soup ingredients and other money saving soup ideas.

Inexpensive Soup Ingredients

Getting to the end of your food budget before it’s time for your next pay check? Try a simple lentil soup to help make ends meet. It’s cheap, and what else besides soup can feed 8 people on 2 cups lentils, 2 carrots, 1 onion, and a clove of garlic? Or you can serve everyone’s favorite, potato soup. It was a favorite in the depression for being inexpensive and tasty. A few potatoes, some veggie or chicken broth, a few cloves garlic and an onion will feed a family of 6. Top with a tablespoon of grated cheese and a dollop of low fat sour cream to make it a decadent treat. Try pureeing the soup with soy or skim milk to add a bit of richness to the broth. Skip the cream, butter, and bacon and you’ve created a heart healthy soup that’s still tasty.

Sauté the veggies in a non-stick pan or put the raw veggies in the soup itself and you save some calories that you can spend somewhere else.

Slow Cooker Soup Tips

If you work all day, you can still come home to a house smelling like dinner. Use a slow cooker to make your soups while you are at work. You will need to do some prep work the night before, or in the morning before you leave. But believe me, it is worth it to come home to a piping hot soup that’s ready to eat. Do not add any milks (dairy or otherwise), fresh peas, or greens until about 30 minutes before you serve it. The veggies will overcook, and the milks will separate over the day for an unappetizing mess.

Add your veggies to a slow cooker, add water or broth to cover, herbs and cook all day. Come home add some milk of your choice and puree it all together. You may need to add more herbs too, some of their flavor can cook out over the day.

Money Saving Soup Idea

Try making a “clean out the fridge” soup by putting your veggie scraps, leftover bits of meat, beans or tofu, and some homemade pasta sauce or a can of diced tomatoes to create your own signature soup. Nothing goes to waste, and you get to experiment with new combinations to create a meal that’s as unique as you are. And no one needs to know how little it cost.