Best soup topping ideas
Spruce up a humble bowl of soup with tasty toppings. As well as adding flavour and texture, our toppings add nutrients that’ll help support your immunity
We have hundreds of soup recipes on bbcgoodfood.com, from minestrone and miso, to chicken and chowder. Once you have your basic blend nailed, there are plenty of ways to garnish soup to ramp it up to the next level. We’ve picked seven nutritious ingredients that’ll give your bowl a healthy boost.
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We have lots of resources to help you get the basics right, so look through our recipes and guides to ensure you have a solid foundation for building your soup into something spectacular.
Guide to making soup
How to make soup from leftover ingredients
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10 tasty soup topping ideas
Crunchy almonds add texture as well as nutritional value to soup, and if you use a healthy, creamy soup recipe like smooth cauliflower as the base, the contrast of textures will be even more satisfying. Almonds are rich in protective vitamin E, especially if you eat them with their skins intact. The flavonoids found in the skin more than double vitamin E’s protective potency, giving you more bang for your buck.
If you want to add a mellowing agent to soup, you’re not restricted to using heavy double cream or crème fraîche. Bio yogurt is lower in fat, plus it’s great for the gut as it’s a fermented food. This is good news as the gut is where 60% of our immune defences lie, so eating bio yogurt regularly supports your resistance to viral and bacterial infection – time to grab a spoon and add a generous dollop. We like it on a chunky soup like this beef goulash with added fresh parsley.
3. Citrus fruit
Fresh citrus fruit such as limes are rich in vitamin C, essential for immune function. Vitamin C also boosts our absorption of iron from ingredients like lentils, so it's a great addition to a veggie soup. Limes also help the liver to detoxify, making them a perfect choice if you feel you need to reboot your body after a bout of eating lots of rich food. The skin and zest are particularly potent, so if you can handle the tang, get grating. Lime works really well on soups with Mexican or Indian flavours, like this red lentil & coconut soup.
Nutmeg is packed with goodness. It has anti-microbial properties, plus it enhances digestion and stimulates appetite. Add a sprinkle or grating to taste – it has a strong flavour that isn’t to everyone’s liking. We think it works well with this carrot soup that also has nutmeg in the blend itself, plus ginger, which has a myriad positive medicinal properties.
Fresh herbs are a winning ingredient, adding flavour and nutrition to a dish, yet barely any calories. Parsley doesn’t have an overbearing flavour, so can be used on all manner of soups, and it’s rich in immune-supportivng vitamin C, making it ideal for winter months. This super-green soup with extra parsley is about as healthy as it gets, being jam-packed with veggies and fresh turmeric. Another great thing about parsley is it’s price point – greengrocers, market stalls and international supermarkets often sell bunches of parsley for under a pound.
6. Wholegrain rice
Add substance to soup without resorting to high-GI carbohydrates by using wholegrain rice. It’s a useful source of minerals, including zinc, which can help shorten the duration of a cold. It’s a perfect addition to thinner soups, like this bone broth. The chicken carcass used to make it still has a little meat on the bones, helping to create the jellified finish you’re after.
Seeds are a simple but effective way of adding an extra dose of goodness to soups (or indeed salads). A handful of pumpkin seeds a day will help you towards your recommended daily amount of zinc, which can help memory and brainpower as well as immunity. If you’re making pumpkin soup, you won’t even need to head to the wholefoods aisle as you can use the inside of your gourd. Our guide shows you how to prepare pumpkin seeds at home.
A spoonful of pesto drizzled over the top of your classic tomato soup adds an extra layer of herby flavour. It's also great for using up any stray herbs languishing in the fridge. Simply whizz them up with nuts, olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and some nuts for an instant sauce. Pine nuts are a classic and also help lower blood glucose levels. Check out our guide to the top 10 healthiest nuts for more information. Try our 11 alternative pesto recipes for more herby inspiration.
Topping your soup with a runny soft-boiled egg is the perfect way to get a hit of umami flavour and an extra dose of protein. Eggs are an inexpensive way to add a nutrient-rich ingredient to your lunch. Read up on our top 5 health benefits of eggs and learn what else you can get from this budget-friendly staple.
A spoonful of creamy guacamole is the perfect topping to balance out a spicy bean soup. Avocados are nutritionally rich and count towards one of your five-a-day. Read up on our top 5 health benefits of avocado to discover more nutritional secrets.
What do you like to add to your soup? Leave a comment below...
This page was last reviewed on 8 July 2019.
A qualified nutritionist (MBANT), Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).
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