In 16th century France, the word restaurant, meaning “something restorative” referred to a warm elixir made from boiling meat and vegetables sold by street vendors. Hard working peasants would take this comfort food to counteract fatigue, to fill themselves with affordable nourishment or if ill. These street vendors eventually moved indoors and the rest is history: they adopted the name restaurants to refer to these establishments. They also expanded the bill of fare to so much more than just these soups.

From the beginning, soups and health have been associated. But as the art of cuisine expanded at a faster pace than the study of nutrition, and local harvests and livestock dictated soups’ ingredients, some not so healthy soups emerged; soups high in saturated fat in particular: bisques (thickened with cream and white flour), veloutes (thickened with cream butter and egg), beef and mutton stews thickened with white flour, sour cream soups (kulajda), chowders (heavy cream) and soups with cheese (trahans and French Onion).

Soups are universal, eaten by every culture. Their cooking methods and ingredients are dependent on geography and socioeconomic status. Soup recipes are abundant and varied but a common element is that many soups have a stock as their base. Many stocks are made from the meat and bones of animals which can be associated with cholesterol and saturated fat. Yet, a good stock or bouillon or consommé will have no saturated fat.


A great stock will be clear and flavorful and have good “mouthfeel”. Creating all that requires time. The stock must be skimmed of fat and the other ingredients that make it cloudy. From there the possibilities for the broth are many: Pho, Scotch Broth, Borscht, Tom Yum, Sopa da Pedra, Avgolemono.

The recipes below are all filling low fat soups; filling enough to have as a meal

Also check out these Sweet and tasty low fat desserts

But first a beef stock recipe. It provides the base for so many different kinds of soups, stews and gravies. This stock is good for five days in the refrigerator or can be frozen.

Beef stock


– 3 kilograms mixed beef bones like osso bucco, shank and ribs
– 2 onions, diced
– 2 stalks celery, diced
– 2 carrots, peeled and diced
– 4 cloves garlic, crushed
– 6 sprigs parsley
– 4 sprigs thyme
– 4 bay leaves
– Salt to taste
– 5 litres of water


1. In a large pot place the beef bones and cover with enough water by about two inches.
2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. After 10 minutes of simmering, skim the scum that rises to the top
3. Add the remaining ingredients and more water so that these ingredients are covered by 2 inches of liquid. When the scum accumulates again, skim again. Add salt.
4. Simmer for three to four hours. If the water level gets too low, add more water so that there is always two inches of liquid at the top.
5. Remove the bones and the vegetables with slotted spoon
6. Next there are two options to make the stock as clear as possible:
a. Remove the pot from the burner and let stock cool. Put in fridge for 6 hours until fat has risen to the top and solidified. Remove the raft of fat.
b. If you are shorter on time, there’s a second technique: after removing the bones and vegetables with slotted spoon or mesh ladle, turn the heat up so that the stock is now rapidly boiling. Beat two egg whites until frothy and add to the rapidly boiling stock. Turn the heat off. As the boil comes to a halt, the egg whites will trap all the stray particles and fat and they will all rise to the surface for easy skimming.
7. Taste the stock. If it is not strong enough, simmer more, letting it become more concentrated.
With this beef stock a variety of soups can be made. A great low fat and filling option is Red Borscht.

Red borscht


–  6 cups beef stock
–  2 cups water
– 4 medium sized beets, peeled and diced
– 1 can of white kidney beans washed and rinsed well
– 1/2 cup diced carrots
– 1/2 cup diced celery
– 1 cup diced potato
– 2 bay leaves
– 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 2 tablespoons white vinegar
– ½ head of red cabbage, shredded and cored
– Salt to taste


1, In a large pot, place beets with enough water to cover well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. The water should turn bright fuchsia from the beets. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes or until the desired tenderness of the vegetables is reached. Serves 8.
2, Low fat, filling soups can also be purees like butternut or tomato based soups like gazpacho or minestrone. Tomato lentil soup is low in calories and fat and high in fibre. There’s also the bonus of some protein from the lentils. It’s also pretty easy to prepare.

low fat soup recipes

Tomato lentil soup (vegan)


– 1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed
– 7 cups water
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 2 stalks celery, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 large cans of tomatoes or 10 medium peeled tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons tomato paste
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
– 1 bunch of baby spinach or 1 bag of cello spinach
– 2 sprigs of oregano
– 4 bay leaves


1. In a large saucepan, add water and lentils and bring to a boil. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse with cold water.
2. Heat olive oil in a small frying pan on medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender and slightly browned. Add garlic and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add water, lentils and spices and bring to a boil, turn down to simmer.
3. Puree tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Add to the pot. Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so tomatoes do not stick to the pot.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato paste to thicken. Add spinach. Simmer five more minutes.
Low fat, pureed soups especially when based with root vegetables and gourds can quite filling. The version below is vegan, high in vitamin A and because the recipe contains cauliflower it brings the glycemic index down in comparison with other versions of this recipe soup which are all root vegetables.

Butternut squash soup (vegan)


– 2 Butternut Squashes, cubed, rinds and seeds removed
– 2 heads of cauliflower, cored
– 3 green or yellow zucchini
– 1 large onion, diced
– 2 sprigs of thyme
– 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
– 2 stalks of celery, diced
– 2 carrots, diced
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 2 tablespoons pureed ginger


1, In a medium saucepan, heat oil on medium heat. Once hot, add the celery, onion, thyme and carrots and sauté until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the 2 cloves of garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring while doing so. Remove from heat and set aside.
2, Place all the remaining ingredients in a large pot. Cover the vegetables with water with by about three inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to cook for 40 minutes on medium heat.
3, Remove the sprigs of thyme from the celery mixture then add the mixture to the boiling vegetables. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
4, Remove pot from heat and let cool slightly. In batches add the boiled vegetables to food processor and puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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