4 Nourishing Soup Recipes for Cold Days

butternut squash soup

There is something nourishing about the warmth and grounding flavors of a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter day. Traditionally, bone broths were used as the base of soups to support the immune system and digestive health, which is probably why soup sounds the most appealing to you when you’re sick—it has so many healing benefits for your body and also for your soul.

While preparing soup might seem intimidating at first, it is actually a relatively simple process. Most soups have a very similar cooking process:

  1. Chop your vegetables
  2. Sauté the aromatics (e.g., onion and garlic)
  3. Add the vegetables and spices to sauté until soft
  4. Add the cooking liquid (usually organic vegetable or chicken broth)
  5. Bring to a boil and then let simmer to bring all of the flavors together
  6. If it is a pureed soup, then you will use an emersion blender or transfer the soup in batches to a blender

Many soups call for a combination of onions, carrots, and celery to build the flavor. Inspired from traditional French soups, this trio of ingredients is called a “mirepoix” and can sometimes be found already chopped up at your local grocery store to save you some chopping time. If you choose to chop your own vegetables, make sure to use a sharp knife to cut down on prep time.

One way to ensure that the cooking process goes smoothly is to chop all of your vegetables and measure out your ingredients before you start. In traditional French culinary, this technique of preparing everything in advance is called “mise en place,” which means “set in place.”

It is important to get all of your ingredients measured out and prepared in advance because there is usually not enough time in between the steps of the cooking process to measure and chop everything for the next step. By preparing in advance, your cooking process will be more enjoyable and more efficient.

Soups make for wonderful leftovers and freezer meals. This works out well for times when you are sick or for a day when you don’t have the time to cook. Just make sure to allow the soup to cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing it.

There are a wide variety of soup options out there. Next time you need a warm up, try one of these four recipes that range from a light chopped vegetable soup to a hearty white bean chili soup.

Minestrone Soup (With a Twist)

This chunky vegetable soup has bold Italian flavors. For a healthy twist, use brown rice (as shown below) instead of pasta.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth* or vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley, chopped

*preferably homemade

Directions:

Melt the ghee or coconut oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat.

Add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add celery, carrots, green beans, zucchini, oregano, dried basil, sea salt, and pepper. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables have softened.

Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and chicken broth. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Taste to see if more salt or pepper is needed.

Add ½ cup of brown rice to each bowl, then serve the soup on top of the rice. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley.

Note: for added protein you can add shredded chicken or ground turkey

Serves 8

Butternut Squash, Apple, and Ginger Soup

This warm, grounding soup has a blend of winter spices, as well as ginger, to provide an anti-inflammatory boost.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped, with seeds removed, or 6-8 cups of pre-cut butternut squash
  • 1 medium green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 3 cups organic chicken stock (low-sodium) or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (add more to taste)
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 10 chives, chopped

Directions:

Heat a large soup pot on medium-high heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pot, then add onion, carrot, and celery with ½ teaspoon sea salt. Sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

Add squash and green apple to the pot, then sauté for 5 minutes. Add the broth and water, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes until the squash is softened.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Make sure not to fill the blender more than halfway when adding the soup. Transfer the soup back into the pot and add nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, and 1 teaspoon sea salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then taste to adjust seasoning if necessary. (Note: Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender.)

Garnish with chives.

This recipe was inspired and adapted from Simplyrecipes.com.

Serves 6

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Now, you can have your soup and your greens at the same time! This quick and easy soup blend contains cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and kale) that can help reduce your risk of cancer.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium)
  • 5-6 cups broccoli, roughly chopped

  • 1½ cup kale, de-stemmed & roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast


  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the coconut oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the onions begin to soften and become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pepper flakes (optional) and combine well.

Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and kale. Turn down to a simmer, cover and continue cooking until your vegetables turn a bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Set the soup aside to cool for a bit.

Add the nutritional yeast and avocado to the pot. In 2-3 batches, add the soup to your blender and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the stock pot and season with salt & pepper. Warm over a low heat, if necessary.

Garnish with fresh parsley

Serves 6

Simple Turkey and White Bean Chili

Craving a more filling winter soup option? This chili is a great way to nourish your belly with lots of comforting flavors.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1½ teaspoons ghee or olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey*
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16-ounce can canned white beans, drained
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 limes cut into wedges

*Look for organic or nitrate/nitrite free turkey

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add turkey to the pot, and stir consistently until evenly brown. Remove turkey from the pot and set aside.

Add remaining ½ tablespoon of ghee. Stir in onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are softened.

Add crushed tomatoes, white beans, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add ground turkey back in with the remainder of seasoning: paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, sea salt, and pepper. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve and garnish with parsley and a lime wedge.

Serves 4 to 6


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About the Author
Amy Krasner

Amy Krasner

Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Chef
Amy Krasner is the founder of a San Diego-based nutrition practice Nourished Balance . She works one-on-one with clients to improve their health through science-based nutrition and holistic health coaching. Amy supports her clients with customized nutrition plans for health concerns including: thyroid imbalances, high cholesterol, weight loss, impaired digestion, and auto-immune conditions. Amy also works with several local companies to provide nutrition education and services as part of the employee wellness programs.Read more