A hot bowl of soup becomes even more appealing when the weather’s chilly outside. Not only is soup nourishing, comforting, and easy to prepare, but it’s also great for batch cooking – which means you can double up quantities, freeze the extra, and have healthy meals to hand when you don’t want to cook.
Plus, at a time when many of us are worried about money, soup can be incredibly cost-effective too.
And if that weren’t enough reason to reach for a pot, soups are one of the most versatile meals around. Whether you prefer zingy vegetable soups, rich meaty stews, or hearty, comforting classics, there’s a soup for every diet and taste preference.
To get you inspired, here are 12 of the best soup recipes for health and comfort.
1. Chicken soup
When it comes to comforting, restorative soups, few recipes offer the legendary healing powers of chicken soup.
While the medicinal benefits of chicken soup are open to debate, this so-called ‘Jewish penicillin’ remains one of the most popular comfort foods for a cold day – particularly when you’re feeling under the weather. If nothing else, these steaming bowls of soup will warm you up and lift your soul!
There are too many variations of chicken soup to mention. Though the best recipes are rugged, hearty soups that not only have visible chunks of chicken and vegetables but are thickened with grains or pulses, and sometimes pasta too.
You’ll get the best results by using a good quality chicken that you slowly cook from scratch. Serve with bread and butter to mop up every last bit!
To make chicken soup, you can try this recipe from The Guardian.
Another soup that’s hearty and comforting – and also incredibly versatile – is minestrone.
The beautiful thing about minestrone is that it’s delicious throughout the year. In summer, you can use light, seasonal veggies like courgettes, green beans, and peas; and in winter you can opt for heartier produce like onions, celery, cabbage, and carrots.
Minestrone contains a wealth of healthy vegetables, which are perfect for boosting your immune system, and it also contains beans, which are high in fibre and protein. Then, pasta is often added to bulk it out – normally small shapes like ditalini, though sometimes rice is used.
Minestrone is usually vegetarian but the broth can also be made with chicken or vegetable stock, and some recipes add pancetta or bacon.
To make classic minestrone soup, why not try this recipe from Cookie + Kate?
3. Mexican rice and bean soup
If you’re in the mood for a hearty soup with a bit of kick, you could consider making Mexican rice and bean soup.
Not only is this recipe a wonderful way to use up leftover rice or beans, it’s also cheap, filling, and packed with fibre, protein, and antioxidants. Plus, it’s smoky, spicy, and seriously delicious.
You can use any beans you have in the cupboard, but black or pinto beans are the most authentic. When paired with onions, garlic, chopped tomatoes, chipotle peppers, warming spices like cumin, a squeeze of lime, and a scattering of fresh coriander, this is a recipe that’s absolutely infused with the fragrant flavours of Mexico.
To make Mexican rice and bean soup, you can try this recipe from Faithful Plateful. Serve with chopped avocado for even more health points!
4. Spicy corn soup
Another recipe that can transport you to warmer shores is spicy sweetcorn soup, which is eaten throughout the Caribbean – particularly in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Tobago.
Sweet, fresh, and spicy, this is the perfect soup to brighten up a damp, drab evening – and that’s without even mentioning its beautiful, vibrant colour.
Split peas, potatoes, and butternut squash thicken this hearty soup and add extra nutrients, and the fiery flavours of scotch bonnet chillies and cayenne pepper are deliciously tempered by creamy coconut milk. Thyme, garlic, and red peppers add even more flavour. For extra comfort, Caribbean dumplings make a fantastic addition.
To make spicy corn soup, check out this recipe from Delicious Magazine.
5. Pea and ham soup
Pea and ham soup is a British classic and excellent recipe to make when the weather’s colder.
While some pea soups are light, silky, and vivid green, this recipe traditionally uses dried split peas, which create a thick, hearty, and satisfying texture. Plus, it’s a tasty way to use up leftover ham you might have around.
Traditional pea and ham soup uses cured ham hock – and cooking it from scratch adds a greater depth of flavour to the stock. For a really intense flavour, you can even cook it the day before.
However, if you’re pushed for time, pre-cooked ham works well too. Just make sure you use split peas instead of fresh peas. Not only are they a great source of plant protein, but they’re also high in iron, zinc, and phosphorus.
For more tips on making pea and ham soup, check out this guide by The Guardian.
6. Spiced lentil soup
When the days are cold and dark, it’s easy to feel low energy – or even a bit blue. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, you might enjoy tucking into some spiced lentil soup, which takes just 20 minutes to cook.
High in protein, fibre, and potassium, lentils are incredibly good for you, keep you feeling full for a long time, and help your cells create more energy. Plus, they’re also a good source of zinc, magnesium, non-heme iron, and selenium, which can boost mood.
But because it contains so many other healing ingredients, this spiced lentil soup has extra benefits. The infusion of turmeric, coconut, cumin, cinnamon, lime, and cardamom gives this soup powerful anti-inflammatory benefits and a heavenly flavour. Plus, adding spinach means this dish couldn’t be healthier if it tried.
If you’d like to make spiced lentil soup, check out this recipe by Oh She Glows.
7. Cavolo nero, leek, and potato soup
Leek and potato soup is another comforting British classic, particularly when the temperatures have dropped. But to make a healthier version, why not add some cavolo nero?
Also known as black kale, cavolo nero is a good source of iron, fibre, calcium, vitamins A, C, K, and B vitamins, and this deeply nourishing soup is the perfect dish to come home to after a chilly walk.
To make this soup, it’s best to use floury potatoes over waxy ones, as they give a fluffier, thicker texture. To get the most flavour from the leeks, include the pungent green ends, and add extra flavour with garlic, bay leaves, and nutmeg.
After you’ve blended the soup, it should be a beautiful deep green colour thanks to the cavolo nero and spinach. Add parmesan croutons if you’d like to make it extra indulgent!
To make cavolo nero, leek, and potato soup with parmesan croutons, take a look at this recipe by The Guardian.
8. Fish chowder
Seafood soups like bouillabaisse are often only associated with summer. But seafood chowders are a different kettle of fish (pun intended!).
While fish soups tend to have a thin broth, fish chowders are thick, chunky, and creamy, and often contain hearty veg like carrots or potatoes. They’re warming, filling, and comforting – an ideal meal for when you don’t fancy either meat or veggie soup.
Meaty, firm fish like cod, snapper, monkfish, haddock, and salmon work best in chowder. Using a frozen fish pie mix is a good way to get some variety – as well as a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. You can also add frozen shellfish if liked.
The soup is thickened with potatoes, leeks, sweetcorn, and milk, while chives and lemon zest add extra flavour. Serve with plenty of crusty bread, or crackers are tasty too!
Why not try this chunky fish chowder recipe by BBC Good Food?
9. Roasted red pepper and tomato soup
If you’re in the mood for a fresh, light soup that’s still warming and filling, why not make roasted red pepper and tomato soup?
A serious step up from classic canned tomato soup, this concoction is zingy yet piquant, sweet yet savoury, and bursting with health-busting vitamins and antioxidants.
Despite its deep colour and vibrant flavours, this soup is really easy to make. Simply roast the tomatoes, onions, and peppers until tender, cook briefly on the stove with stock and spices, then blitz in a blender.
It’s the ideal way to get rid of overripe veggies you may have lying around – so if your tomatoes, peppers, or onions are looking a bit sad or wrinkly, it doesn’t matter! This soup is also delicious with toast.
To make roasted red pepper and tomato soup, check out this recipe from Cookie + Kate.
10. Shredded vegetable miso soup
Miso has been eaten in Japan for almost a thousand years, and it makes a deliciously savoury soup that’s incredibly good for you.
Miso contains probiotics which can improve digestion by reducing gas and constipation, and as a result is one of the best foods for gut health. It can also help lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and reduce the risk of breast cancer and stroke.
While you can enjoy miso soup by itself, adding extra veggies is a great way to bulk it out and make it even healthier. Shredding ginger, garlic, chillies, leeks, carrots, and kale into miso soup also makes it tastier and can go a long way in boosting your immune system.
This umami-rich soup is the perfect quick and nourishing low-calorie meal – and you can top it with quinoa to make it heartier or add tofu chunks for extra authenticity.
If you’d like to try this, check out this shredded vegetable miso soup by Olive.
11. Pumpkin and carrot soup
Despite being associated with Halloween and autumn, pumpkin is a tasty vegetable to use in soups all year round. Though, if you’re not a fan of pumpkin, butternut squash makes a delicious alternative.
Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, fibre, and antioxidants, and butternut squash is particularly rich in vitamin E, B vitamins, and manganese. So whichever way you make this soup, it’s the perfect antidote to the cold and flu season.
Paired with spiced carrot, this soup is velvety smooth and flavoured with warming spices like cumin, paprika, turmeric, nutmeg, and cardamom. It’s so comforting it’s essentially the culinary equivalent of pulling on a warm jumper!
To make this spiced carrot and pumpkin soup, try this recipe from Domestic Gothess – which is also vegan.
12. Beef and barley soup
If you’re dreaming of a meaty, thick, and hearty meal, look no further than this beef and barley soup.
Packed with healthy veggies, plump barley, and tender chunks of beef, this intensely savoury soup will warm you from the inside out. Perfect on a damp evening, it can be made ahead of time and frozen, so you’ll always have a warming meal to pull out of the freezer when you’re feeling too tired to cook.
The trick to making delicious beef and barley soup is to cook the beef for a long time. Though, because you want the beef to stay tender, it’s important to use collagen-rich cuts, like short ribs.
After you’ve browned the beef, cook your veggies, then remove and cook the beef in stock for one to two hours. Next, add the barley and the veg and cook until both are tender. Serve with a scattering of parsley!
To make beef and barley soup, have a look at this recipe from Serious Eats.
Soup is an ideal go-to meal. It’s quick to prepare, versatile, filling, delicious, and can be incredibly healthy when packed with nutrients that are especially important during cold and flu season.
Plus, soup is uniquely comforting – like a hug in a bowl – and no matter whether you’re a vegetarian, a vegan, or an omnivore, you’re sure to find a recipe to tantalise your taste buds.
If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands one day, you might like to consider making a big batch of soup and freezing it for later. On a cold, dark evening when you don’t have the energy to cook, you’ll be glad you have a restorative bowl of soup to turn to!
For more recipe inspiration you might want to check out our articles; 10 of the best slow cooker recipes to save you time and money and 12 best air fryer recipes.