Keto Diet-Friendly Soups

Ruben Castaneda

The keto diet offers an array of tasty soups to choose from.

If you're on the ketogenic diet and you like to eat soup, you're in luck, says Sheila Varshney, a registered dietitian nutritionist with PlateJoy, a nutrition startup that provides meal plans and grocery lists based on your healthy eating goals and preferences.

The keto diet offers an array of different types of soups, including options that are cream-based and broth-based. Some soups are full of vegetables that provide plenty of fiber, says Varshney, who's based in San Francisco.

The different types of soups provide various advantages when it comes to following the keto regimen, though you have to be mindful of the specific ingredients in each one. "Cream-based soups, like kale pancetta and sausage soup, have low amounts of carbohydrates," she says. "When it comes to broth-based soups, you'll want to keep an eye out for which vegetables are included. Many recipes feature starchy vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Choose soups with leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli or zucchini to bring texture and flavor."

What is the keto regimen?

The keto diet emphasizes weight loss through fat-burning. It calls for consuming less than 50 grams of carbs each day -- or 5% of your daily calories -- from carbohydrates, says Ryan Maciel, a registered dietitian nutritionist and head nutrition coach for Precision Nutrition, which provides nutrition education and tools to health and fitness professionals and individual clients in 120 countries. He's based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Adherents of the keto eating regimen seek to consume 75% of their calories from fats and 20% from protein. Proponents of the keto diet say that by cutting carbs and consuming more fats, your body safely enters a state of ketosis. Consequently, your fat-burning system relies mainly on fat, instead of sugar, for energy. This leads to weight loss, proponents of the diet say. While the keto diet is generally safe for healthy people, individuals who have certain medical conditions, including diabetes, should consult with their physician, Maciel says.

Many dishes -- including some soups -- can be made keto-friendly by removing higher-carb ingredients such as potatoes, rice, bread and beans and substituting low-carb veggies like broccoli or cauliflower, high-fat foods like cream cheese or heavy cream and using moderate amounts of protein from chicken, beef or fish.

Here are eight keto-friendly soups:

Keto chili

The keto eating regimen isn't just about limiting your intake of carbohydrates, says Pamela Nisevich Bede, a registered dietitian and keto diet expert with Abbott, a global health care company headquartered in Chicago. She works with Abbott's ZonePerfect, which makes keto nutrition shakes. She's also the author of "Sweat. Eat. Repeat."

In addition to cutting carbs, you need to be mindful of not going overboard on protein, which can prevent your body from going into ketosis and losing weight, Nisevich Bede says. Therefore, proteins with higher amounts of fat -- like dark meat poultry with skin and ground meats -- are better options for keto dishes than ingredients with lower levels of fat, Nisevich Bede advises. "These can fit nicely into a keto chili," she says.

To make it, cook ground beef in a skillet with chopped bell pepper, onion and olive oil or avocado oil until the meat is brown. Skip the step of draining the meat. Add some garlic, a can of chopped tomatoes, chili seasoning and broth, and simmer the ingredients over a low heat for a few hours. You can top it with shredded cheddar and sour cream.

Low-carb keto veggie soup

If your refrigerator is full of low-carb vegetables that are nearing their use-by date, consider adding them to a healthy keto-friendly soup, says Stephanie Laska, co-author of "The Dirty, Lazy Keto Cookbook: Bend the Rules to Lose the Weight," published in January 2020. She's based in Turlock, California.

You can use any low-carb vegetable combination that suits you to produce a keto-friendly soup loaded with fiber, flavor and nutrition, she says. Saute denser veggies like celery, carrot, cauliflower, eggplant and broccoli in vegetable oil until lightly softened, then add two 64-ounce cans of chicken bone broth.

For greater thickness and nutrition, you can add more vegetables, including green beans and zucchini. Add spices, including:

-- Dried basil, 1 ½ teaspoons.

-- Dried thyme leaves, ¼ teaspoon.

-- Black pepper, 1 teaspoon.

-- Dried sage, ¼ teaspoon.

-- Garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon.

Bring the ingredients to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. When the veggies reach your desired level of doneness, stir in 4 ounces of full-fat cream cheese, then cool and serve. "To make your soup even heartier, add leftover cooked meat from last night's dinner," Laska says.

Broccoli cheddar keto soup

Broccoli cheddar soups typically include potatoes, but this version leaves them out to make it keto-friendly, Maciel says.

To make it, put broccoli, diced onions, chicken stock, cheddar cheese and heavy whipping cream into a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream.

Creamy mushroom meatball soup

For a rich and hearty dish that's excellent during the cold winter months, try creamy mushroom meatball soup, Maciel says.

Combine either pork or ground beef meatballs with onions, garlic, an egg, onion powder, salt and pepper and set inside the fridge for an hour. Then place the meatballs into a pot with olive oil and heat them until they're lightly brown. Remove the meatballs from the pot. Add olives, mushrooms, carrots, celery and the other ingredients from the fridge into the pot and cook until the vegetables are soft.

Add the meatballs along with your choice of herbs and spices. Mix in heavy cream and cheese. "It's warm and satisfying," Maciel says.

Slow cooker taco soup

This soup has "just the right amount of flavor to entice the entire family without being too spicy," Laska says.

To start, brown 2 pounds of lean ground beef for 10 to 15 minutes, then drain the fat and add one peeled and chopped onion and two cloves of peeled and chopped garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the meat to the slow cooker along with 6 cups of beef broth, 2 cups of water, 8 ounces of full-fat cubed cream cheese, ½ cup of finely chopped cilantro and two cans (4 ounces each) of diced green chilies, drained, as well as 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning.

Cover the lid and cook for two hours on high or four hours on low. "Serve with your choice of toppings like olives and jalapenos or a dollop of full-fat sour cream," Laska says.

'Dolla store' pumpkin soup

When your fridge is almost empty and you have no imminent plans to go grocery shopping, you can find ingredients for this keto-friendly soup in many dollar stores, Laska says.

Here are the ingredients you need:

-- Two 9-ounce packages of soy-based chorizo.

-- Chicken bone broth, 6 cups.

-- A 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin.

-- Cooked rice cauliflower, 2 cups.

-- Unsweetened coconut milk, 1 cup.

-- 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and paprika.

-- Salt and black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon of each.

This soup is easy to make, she says. Simply place a medium soup pot over medium heat and add the ingredients. Bring to a boil while stirring regularly. Then, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly until the desired consistency is achieved.

"For increased bulk, double the amount of vegetables by adding chopped zucchini," Laska says. To reduce the carbs in this soup, decrease the amount of pumpkin and increase the quantity of cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale.

Creamy Mexican chicken soup

This Mexican-inspired creamy chicken soup boasts delicious flavors of tomato, jalapeno and zing of lime, Varshney says. Soups that contain high-fat, low-to-no-carb ingredients, such as cream cheese and avocado, are excellent options while following a ketogenic diet plan. This Mexican-inspired soup stores well in the fridge and is perfect to prepare in advance and enjoy as a quick meal later in the week -- just keep the toppings separate until you're ready to eat.

To make this savory soup, heat olive oil in a pot and add onion, garlic and jalapeno until soft. Stir in cumin, chili powder and salt with chicken broth and tomato and bring to boil. Add chicken breast and poach for 15 minutes. Remove chicken breast and chop. Whisk cream cheese and cilantro into broth and simmer. Return chopped chicken to pot and stir. Divide into bowls and top with avocado and lime wedges.

Slow cooker Thai chicken soup

Soups can be a creative way to enjoy flavors that are typically found in more carb-heavy meals, Varshney says. "For example, this curry-flavored soup can be enjoyed without the rice that's typically served alongside Thai dishes, making it the perfect option for those following a ketogenic diet," she says. "The base of the soup is coconut milk, which is a great plant-based keto-friendly alternative. Coconuts (and coconut milk) are naturally high in fat, meaning they'll help you meet your ketogenic macro needs, while also keeping your hunger at bay until your next meal."

To make in a slow cooker, mix carrot coins, onion dices and red bell pepper with garlic, ginger and red curry paste. Cook chicken thighs in coconut oil on a stovetop until browned but not yet cooked through. Place chicken over veggies in a slow cooker and pour in chicken broth. Cook for 5 hours on low. Transfer chicken thighs to a plate and shred. Return to the slow cooker and mix in coconut milk and basil and cook until flavors are combined. Divide into bowls and serve with a lime wedge.

To recap, here are eight keto-friendly soups:

-- Keto chili.

-- Low-carb keto veggie soup.

-- Broccoli cheddar keto soup.

-- Creamy mushroom meatball soup.

-- Slow cooker taco soup.

-- "Dolla store" pumpkin soup.

-- Creamy Mexican chicken soup.

-- Slow cooker Thai chicken soup.