If there was a versatility award for a healthy entrée, soup would have a trophy case full of hardware. Whether you’re spooning it up chilled in the summer or curling up with some steaming broth come colder temps, the one-bowl meal lends itself to countless meals.
Hold your savory horses though, because soup isn’t confined to the veggie world. Using fruits with a low sugar content and flavorful nuts and spices means that even your sweet tooth will be satisfied by the sippable meal. And that’s exactly what Nicole Centeno, chef and founder of New York-based healthy soup delivery company Splendid Spoon, loves about soup: It’s healthy, delicious, and can be made for any occasion.
“Minestrone, congee, consommé, borscht, sabao, stew, chili—every corner of the earth, every palate, every diet has a soup in it,” Centeno writes. Her new cookbook, Soup Cleanse Cookbook, builds upon that idea, filling page after page with a vast array of tasty ways to pack every meal with mega-servings of nutritious produce so that you can break out of your canned tomato soup routine and develop a far more exciting habit. “The flexibility [of soups] means you can have the satisfaction, the comfort, and the healing properties while still keeping your palate excited,” she explains.
If you’re excited to try a sweeter spoonful, you’ll still be slurping up loads of good-for-you ingredients. Cocoa beans, for example, are one of Centeno’s go-tos for flavonoids—an antioxidant rich compound found in plant-based foods. Another sweet-friendly superfood is matcha, loaded with antioxidants and a kick of caffeine for an energy boost.
Ready to try your hand (er, spoon) at a sweet soup? Keep reading for healthy dessert-approved, anytime-appropriate recipes from Splendid Spoon’s Nicole Centeno.
Pear and Sunflower Seed Soup
We use Bartlett pears from Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, New York, when we make this soup at our microsoupery. Since this is a pureed soup, we happily take some of the more banged-up pears. If you offer to do the same at your local farmers’ market, the farmer will probably give you a few extra pieces. The Bartlett variety has a very thin skin, which makes preparation that much easier (hooray, no peeling!), plus it gives you an extra dose of insoluble fiber to slow down sugar absorption.
2 lbs Bartlett pears, quartered
1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom seeds or 1/4 tsp dried
1 vanilla pod, split and insides scraped, or 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1 tsp ground Saigon cinnamon or conventional cinnamon
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight and drained
1 Tbsp ground hempseed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 quarts water
1. In a medium pot over high heat, combine the pears, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, sunflower seeds, hempseed, lemon juice, and water, cover, and bring to a simmer.
2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the pears are very soft.
Honeydew with Matcha and Mint Soup
Honeydew can be an incredibly juicy and sweet melon, and I encourage you to find the sweetest, juiciest one you can. A ripe melon will be unmistakably fragrant with a heavy, sweet aroma when you press its little belly button and then put your nose to it. The sweetness of the melon is tempered by the bitter herbal flavor of the matcha when these two green ingredients are combined. Plus, matcha boosts the antioxidant value significantly. Shredded coconut adds an extra element of delectableness to this soup; the sweet and fatty crumbles are nothing short of divine to chew on between sips.
1 Tbsp matcha powder
1/4 cup boiled water
1/2 honeydew melon, cut into chunks (about 4 cups)
12 oz. coconut water
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1. In a small bowl, whisk the matcha powder into the water to dissolve.
2. In a countertop blender, combine the tea, melon, coconut water, coconut, mint, and basil. Puree to a smoothie consistency.
3. Pour over ice.
Creamy Cocoa with Sweet Potatoes Soup
This soup is like a much cleaner version of rice pudding, and with a much more sophisticated flavor. A bit of spice; a creamy bisque-like base of sweet potato, coconut, and cocoa; and flecks of tender black rice make this a soup you’ll want to savor slowly.
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup black rice
1 cup water
1 Tbsp 100 percent cocoa powder
Pinch of ground red pepper
Pinch of ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 can (15 oz.) coconut milk
1. Place a steamer basket in a large pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Steam the sweet potato in the basket for 12 minutes, or until the potato is very soft and easily pierced with a knife. If you do not have a steamer basket, fill the pot with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potato. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes. Allow the potato to cool to room temperature. Reserve the water.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot over high heat, combine the rice and water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 40 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
3. In a countertop blender, combine the potatoes, the reserved steaming water, cocoa powder, red pepper, black pepper, salt, and coconut milk. Puree to a smoothie consistency.
4. Stir in the black rice. Enjoy warm or chilled.
Looking for more good-for-you options to keep in your fridge all week? These meal prep tips and recipes will make healthy eating easy. And for when you don’t have time to pre-cook, these superfood-packed dinners can be made in under 20 minutes.