Maybe you've mastered that whole cooking with kale thing. But that doesn't mean you want to whip up a whole three-course meal quite yet. The answer to all our healthy culinary brainstorms? Make. More. Soup. And now, with Spring upon us and the weather getting warmer (uh, maybe) what's better than to blend up a batch of gazpacho? This tasty, serve-it-chilled soup has Spanish origins and boasts serious flavor, thanks to garlic, spices, veggies or interesting sweet renditions with peach, watermelon, and more.
Gazpacho is light and refreshing—but if you order it at restaurants, it may be loaded up with sodium, calories, croutons, and more. Sometimes, we're even guilty of putting on one too many dollops of sour cream when we make it at home. Enter: Tips from top nutritionists on how to slim down gazpacho without even trying. Soups that melt love handles never tasted this good, we swear.
Ditch the Sour Cream
Try this brilliant, plant-based trick instead: "Swap out sour cream with a creamy cashew cream sauce to add antioxidants and minerals and exchange unhealthy saturated fats for healthful polyunsaturated fats to your soup," says Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietitian and author of The Vegiterranean Diet and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition. "Soak raw cashews in water for a few hours (or in hot water for half an hour), rinse, and blend with 3-4 times the amount of water, depending on how thick you want the cream."
Or, Try This Instead of Sour Cream
You'll get that same creamy fix, but it's way better for your flat belly: "Top your soup with creamy Greek yogurt instead of with sour cream. You'll save more than 150 calories per half cup," say The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and authors of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure.
Reduce the Amount of Olive Oil You Use
Rachael Ray and her gang may be all about that EVOO, but you want to be careful when crafting your chilled soup: "Although a healthy fat, the olive oil brings in extra calories and fat. A good rule of thumb is to half what the recipe calls for so you still get the flavor, but at half the caloric cost," suggests Lisa Hayim, registered dietitian and founder of The WellNecessities.
Or Skip it Completely
"This will save hundreds of calories without changing the ultimate flavor of the soup. Saute mirepoix, a combination of celery, onions and carrots in water or vegetable broth instead to elevate your soup's flavor profile," says Hever. If you're now liking the idea of a broth soup instead of gazpacho, try one of these 20 Best Broth-Based Soups for Weight Loss.
Get Creative About the Creaminess
"Traditional gazpacho doesn't have any sort of cream or milk in it!" exclaims Rebecca Lewis, RD for HelloFresh. "For creaminess, try adding avocados or swapping in cream [in the soup base] for almond milk."
Avoid This Common Ingredient
"Leave out the Worcestershire," Lewis tells us. And we dutifully agree: It can pack a ton of sodium, and many store-bought varieties are loaded with funky additives and unnatural ingredients. Try a teaspoon or so of umami-rich miso instead, a fermented and nutrient-rich food. Find out more about the 14 Fermented Foods to Fit Into Your Diet.
Get Smart About Tomatoes
"Use fresh tomatoes, instead of canned tomatoes, tomato juice, or tomato paste which are high in sodium. Just chop your own tomatoes and throw them in the blender with everything else for a healthier and fresher treat," shares Hayim.
If you're making a sweet gazpacho, "swap watermelon or pear for sugar to lend sweetness," suggests Lewis. Got leftover fruit? Toss it in one of these tasty detox water recipes to banish bloat!
Skip the Ham
"Gazpachos are already sodium-dense from the tomato paste or bottled tomato juice, the last thing you need to do is add more processed foods into the picture with meat. Instead, load up on extra veggies like onions or bell peppers," suggests Hayim.
Garnish with a Sea Veggie Sprinkle
File this under brilliant: "Try sea vegetable sprinkles instead of salt to minimize sodium and pump up minerals such as iodine in your soup," suggests Hever. Here's more on why you should eat these incredible green superfoods!
Bring on the Heat
"Add hot peppers, which contain capsicum. Capsicum has thermogenic properties, which means it may increase metabolism, and lead to weight loss. Peppers also happen to pair nicely with tomato and basil traditionally found in gazpacho," Hayim says.
Skip the Crostini or Croutons
Hello, empty calories. "Oftentimes, gazpacho may be paired with fried croutons, or an oil–coated crostini," says Hayim. "Since gazpacho is a relatively healthy and light dish on its own, stay away from these tempting foods which may negate your healthy choice." Speaking of undoing good efforts, find out the 25 Things You Did Today That Sabotaged Your Weight Loss Goals.
Or Add Some DIY Croutons to the Mix
"Make your own whole grain croutons without the butter or oil to save a bunch of calories and boost fiber," offers Hever. "Use slightly stale whole grain or sprouted bread, cut into cubes, sprinkle with spices appropriate for you soup (for example, use rosemary, oregano, and basil for an Italian soup or ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds for Asian style soups). Bake at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes, toss and bake for 5 more minutes or until the croutons are crunchy. Note that the timing depends on the size of the cubes, so monitor closely to avoid burning." Bread-a-vore? Check out our 20 secrets to eating bread and not get fat!
Add More Veggies
Sure, you could just stick to tomatoes, but why not jazz your gazpacho up with more cucumber, onions and even carrots or zucchini. "This is a surefire way to instantly boost fiber, vitamins, minerals and lower calories and sodium. You'll eat less of the heavy stuff because your bowl of soup will be 'thinned out' with fiber-filled, low-calorie, low-sodium vegetables," say The Nutrition Twins. An excuse to eat more zuke? Don't mind if we do.
Forget About the Store-bought Stock
If you're using stock as a base for your gazpacho, skip the packaged variety. "Make your own low-sodium, low-fat, low-cost and delicious broth by boiling or pressure cooking garlic, onions, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, mushroom stems (if you love mushrooms), and spices such as peppercorns, bay leaves, or coriander in water and straining out the pieces after the piece are softened and the broth is aromatic."
Don't Forget Your Herbs!
A little goes a long way in terms of taste. And basil, parsley, cilantro and more are all darlings of every nutritionist's healthy food lists. Did we mention many potent herbs also double as incredible natural remedies you can grow at home?
Make Your Gazpacho Chunkier
Instead of relying on bread for added thickness and a soup you feel like you can bite into, try this neat idea from Lewis: "Finely dice your veggies and reserve half. At the end, just add the remaining veggies to the gazpacho for a chunky texture." Speaking of chunky soups, try these weight loss soups that burn fat.
Add Some Nuts in the Mix
"Consider thickening your gazpacho with nuts like almonds instead of bread," suggests Lewis. Nuts also make an excellent topping in lieu of croutons. Just lightly toast walnut pieces or almond slivers and toss them on top of each gazpacho bowl before serving. Whipped up that delectable cashew cream sauce from tip #1? Use leftover nuts as garnish.
Love Thy Garlic
But really, though. For sure, this is one of those superfoods you can add to just about any meal. And it's a match made in gazpacho heaven. Most recipes call for a few cloves but toss in a few extras (or even double the amount called for) to give your bowl an extra splash of nutrition. If you blended some cloves into the soup base, consider mincing one or two cloves and incorporating into the gazpacho at the end to create an interesting textural element and more savory goodness.
Add Salt as Your Last Step
"If you keep adding salt during the assembly process, it will continue to get mixed in and the flavor of the salt will get "hidden" in the layers of the soup. By adding the salt at the end it will hit the taste buds sooner and taste saltier, even though you use less salt," suggest The Nutrition Twins. For an added burst of flavor, try a splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice before you're ready to eat.