By Nadia Vitari
Soups and salads are often recommended by personal trainers and dietitians as a very healthy way to start a meal. They are also great for one to load-up on almost calorie-free and filling nutrients, while indulging in a full-course meal. In this post we will look at some chilled soup recipes that you will find easy to prepare and tasty to consume!
When it comes to healthy eating, many a times we can be put off by the idea of preparing a soup from scratch or soups may seem inappropriate during warm weather, though warm soups may actually cool you down. But let’s be honest, who feels like sipping on a piping hot consomme when its 40 degrees outside? Otherwise we tend to order them at restaurants, either as dine-in or take away/delivery, or buy instant ones at the supermarket.
However, those soups actually lose much of their healthy properties as they are often full of oil or butter and cream (the ones in served in eateries) or loaded with sodium, preservatives, food coloring, artificial flavoring and above all thickeners, very often the infamous mono-sodium glutamate. Yes, it is really as bad as it is made out to be, and very generously added to gravies, processed meats, canned food, low-quality cheese, soy sauce, dried mushrooms and instant preparations. In fact, its symptoms have been labeled as the “Chinese restaurant’ syndrome, and they include nausea, headache and numbness, among others, similar to a severe allergic reactions and it is especially harmful for pregnant women or nursing mothers.
Indeed, I love fruit smoothies – they are so refreshing and healthy. So I thought, inspired by the super famous Spanish/Mexican Gazpacho, why not prepare a veg version of them and easily prepare chilled soups? I would like to share with you some recipes that are just yummy and very light, full of vitamins and nutrients and that are ready in 5 minutes! Only your blender is needed and a quick stop at the grocery store or at a local fruit and veg stall! Also, you can easily carry them to work and store them in the fridge for at least three to four days! And mostly, you can really keep an eye on the ingredients, using as little oil and salt as possible and generously add herbs and spices instead of using sauces, for a wholesome, filling and healthy meal!
Ready to start? All these recipes will make around 4 servings.
1. Chilled mint cucumber mint yoghurt soup
Let’s try the chilled mint cucumber mint yoghurt soup: you will need 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 4 cups of chopped up cucumber, one and half of yoghurt, half a cup of fresh mint leaves, salt and pepper to taste, half a cup of cold water, and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons) and each serving has only 113.5 Kcal. If it is just a starter, it goes very well with grilled chicken or fish, cous cous and rice.
2. Creamy chilled chickpeas sesame soup
If you are a vegan, it important to add proteins to the diet, so next is the delicious and creamy chilled chickpeas sesame soup: in a blender add two cups of boiled chickpeas, one minced garlic clove, two tablespoons of sesame seeds, one quarter teaspoon of ground cumin, three tablespoons of fresh lemon, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, one and a half to two cups of cold water and salt and pepper to taste and just mix it up! Pulse it very quickly if you prefer to have it more crunchy, blend it a little bit longer if you like it smooth. It is very filling and easy to digest, and you can also make it more yummy and fresh by adding chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and onions on top! You will get so many healthy nutrients and vitamins in just one bowl for only 238 kcal! You can also serve it as a light meal by pairing it with toasted bread and /or a small salad. Avoid croutons as usually they are loaded in butter or have been refried.
3. Chilled spiced tomato soup
And now the one that started all for me, inspired by the authentic Gazpacho: the chilled spiced tomato soup, for which you will need a quarter cup of diced cucumber, three cups of chopped tomatoes, a quarter cup of red bell pepper, a quarter cup of diced red onions, the usual garlic clove, salt and pepper to taste, extra virgin olive oil, and that which makes it really special: some tabasco sauce or red chilies (or one teaspoon of cayenne pepper and cumin) and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with only one cup of cold water! It is so intense and flavorsome with only 73 calories!
4. Chilled avocado and spinach soup
And finally, let’s end with something just so delicious and good for you: the chilled avocado and spinach soup! In a blender, mix one ripe avocado, four cups of baby spinach, two tablespoons of fresh basil, quarter cup of yoghurt, one minced garlic clove, two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, one to two cups of water, one teaspoon of smoked paprika! Its taste is just unique and a great way to pack upon veggies if usually you have troubles adding them to your diet! And don’t be scared by avocado as it is known for being high in fats: those are actually ‘good nutrients’. In fact, one serving of this yummy meal only has 83 calories! Its nutritional values are just amazing, as avocado is full of vitamin B, C, K and E, potassium, folate and very good for your skin, eyesight and heart, helping reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels!
Like most of my other recipe suggestions, with these soups also you can get creative and mix all those ingredients together with your favorite fruits and vegetables! For example, cantaloupe also goes well with basil and peas are very nice with avocado and sweetcorn! You can also mix it with cilantro and pine nuts.
Just remember to add spices and herbs to reduce the amount of salt you add and enhance taste without using cream or sauces!
So indulge freely in these chilled soups and get healthier, all at once!
About Nadia Vitari
Passionate traveler and backpacker, Nadia comes from the Lake of Como area in Italy (yes, where George Clooney lives!). She moved to Mumbai to work for an NGO. Being Italian and having lived, worked and studied in different countries, she is passionate about food and other cultures, especially anything Japanese! She also loves reading, football and rock music.