A Collection of Comforting Soup Recipes That Are Easy on the Waistline
Soup recipes lend themselves especially well to the Weight Watchers format. By cooking your ingredients in broth, you lessen the need for cooking oils that have high Weight Watchers point values. The broth is also filling without adding more unnecessary points. You can experiment with variations on these recipes by using different vegetables in the Fresh Vegetable Soup and 0-Point Asian Soup recipes, and using different herbs in the Cream of Tomato Soup and Italian Wedding Soup recipes. Just make sure that whatever substitutions you make have comparable point values to the ingredients in the original recipes.
1) Fresh Vegetable Soup
This zero-point soup recipe uses the convenient "dump and stir" technique: Just add the vegetables to enough water to cover them, season with fresh herbs and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the flavors come together. The official Weight Watchers version of the recipe uses carrots, zucchini, cabbage, chard, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, red pepper and celery, but you can use other vegetables in addition to or instead of some of the options in the original recipe: try turnips, rutabagas, kale, collards, winter squash, green beans or leeks. Cut the vegetables small enough to gracefully fit on a soup spoon. The smaller you cut them, the more quickly they'll cook.
2) 0-Point Asian Soup
Soy sauce, ginger, garlic and shiitake mushrooms give this soup plenty of punch in the flavor department, but the broth is light and the array of fresh vegetables filling and satisfying. Water chestnuts and bamboo shoots add layers of texture, and cilantro adds a piquant twist. The original recipe calls for both napa and bok choy cabbage, but they're similar enough that you can leave one out without really missing it, if you don't have one on hand. To add to its many virtues, this soup takes only 15 minutes to cook once the vegetables are prepped. Simmer all of the ingredients except the bean sprouts, snow peas and soy sauce for 10 minutes, and then add the remaining ingredients and simmer for a few minutes longer
3) Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup
Fresh tomatoes give this simple soup a bright, complex flavor, and fresh herbs season it fully with very little cooking time. It weighs in at 2 Weight Watchers points per serving, more than the Fresh Vegetable Soup and 0-Point Asian Soup recipes, but still much less than the typical allotment per meal. Saute the leek, add the remaining ingredients and cook briefly, and then use an immersion blender to puree the soup without the mess or hassle of a conventional blender or food processor. Enjoy it with a green salad or a serving of roasted vegetables.
4) Italian Wedding Soup
This hearty 3-point soup recipe features turkey meatballs and escarole, an herb-like leafy green with a pleasing bitterness. These ingredients are cooked in a savory chicken broth perked up with dried oregano and garlic powder. It's a full meal in a bowl, featuring both meat and vegetables, and it's substantial and flavorful enough that you can serve it to the whole family even if they're not necessarily trying to lose weight. Prepare the meatballs, add them to the broth and simmer until the escarole wilts and the meatballs float to the top, indicating that they're fully cooked.
Devra Gartenstein is a self-taught professional cook who has authored two cookbooks: "The Accidental Vegan", and "Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes". She founded Patty Pan Cooperative, Seattle's oldest farmers market concession, and teaches regular cooking classes.