It's cold outside and you want something warm and filling. You know a salad just isn't going to cut it, but you don't want a large meal. What do most people fancy? Soup!
Soup may may seem like a great meal on a gestational diabetes diet, warm, filling, nutritious. But wait!...
Did you know that a can of soup can contain as much as 34g of carbs, that's the equivalent to 8 ½ tsp of sugar! Plus you most probably will dip some bread in there too, so even if you pick a better tolerated one like Burgen soya & linseed (11g carbs per 800g slice), that could easily be 45g carbs or 11 ¼ tsp of sugar with little protein and fat to help 'pair' or slow down the release of that sugar.
On this post we'll share with you lots of better alternatives for soups and some hints and tips. We'll also share some of most commonly used soups that causes ladies problems.
Things to know about soup...
Soup releases sugar faster into the bloodstream
Just like with anything blitzed, pureed, or mashed, soups have been cooked down and very often blended. This means that your body has to do less work to break down soup and glucose will be released faster into the bloodstream. To help this, when making soup you could eat it chunky and increase the protein and fat in the soup to help slow down the release of glucose.
Watch out for tinned soups!
Tinned soups can have high carb amounts, usually the nutritional information on the labels are shown per 100g and you will no doubt be eating more than 100g. A standard tin of soup is 400g and so most will eat at least 200g. Some cans have nutritional information 'per serving'. Please note: a serving may differ depending on the size of the can, so always double check the amount you are planning to eat.
Watch out for some vegetarian soups!
Unfortunately the highest amount of carbs in soups, tend to be found in vegetarian soups such as tomato, vegetable, potato & leek, lentil etc. There is also less protein in these soups to help 'pair' them, meaning they can be tricky to tolerate.
Watch out for grains, beans, lentils and pulses!
Many soups contain some great heart healthy ingredients such as grains, beans, lentils, chickpeas and other pulses. Although these foods are good nutritionally and some contain good amounts of protein, they also contain carbs and so many ladies still find soups bulked with these things harder to tolerate.
Comparing store bought soups
1. LOWEST CARB SOUP! Broccoli and Stilton fresh soups
The lowest carb soups we have found are fresh broccoli & stilton. Comparing the online, we found Tesco to have the lowest amount of carbs at 1.8g per 100g, with Waitrose coming a close second at 1.9g per 100g. ASDA's has 2.2g per 100g and Sainsburys 2.5g per 100g. These fresh soups are usually sold in 600g tubs and cartons, so it is important to think about how much you plan on eating eg. half a tub of this Tesco (lowest carb) soup would be 5.4g carbs (just over the equivalent of 1 tsp of sugar)
2. New Covent Garden Co Wild Mushroom soup
In second place, but only .1g difference in total carbs per 100g is New Covent Garden Co Wild Mushroom soup. Made with simple ingredients which include single cream, makes this soup a better choice with only 1.9g carbs per 100g
3. ASDA Chicken & Mushroom soup
We've put this soup in 3rd place as although there are a few soups such as butternut squash and carrot that come close carbs wise, the chicken in this helps increase the protein and fat, making this soup more tolerable than vegetable alone. ASDA chicken & mushroom soup has 3.1g carbs per 100g
4. Tesco Finest Green Thai Chicken Soup
With only 3.4g of carbs per 100g this flavoursome Thai Green Chicken soup from the Tesco Finest range has some great ingredients which work well on a gestational diabetes diet such as coconut, edamame beans, chicken stock and lots of herbs and spices
5. Heinz Cream of Chicken Soup
If you need or prefer to use a tinned soup, the lowest in carbs and most widely available is Heinz cream of chicken soup. It has 4.7g carbs per 100g. Please note that a standard size can is 400g
6. Heinz Cream of Tomato
Regular Heinz Cream of tomato soup is one which is best avoided with 6.8g carbs per 100g. We see many ladies try this soup and spike their blood sugar levels.
An alternative to try, but some may still find tricky is Heinz Balance Cream of Tomato soup which has 25% less salt and 30% less sugar at 5.5g carbs per 100g. Half a tin of this soup contains 11g carbs, equivalent of 2 ¾ tsp of sugar. Tomatoes can be tricky for some ladies to tolerate and with little protein and fat to help pair, it can be a soup that many may wish to avoid for a safer alternative
Pair your soup
The soup itself is the carb of the meal and so adding bread or croutons will be significantly increasing the carb amount.
If you add more protein and fat to the soup then you will slow down the release of glucose from the carbs within the soup and make it more tolerable (meaning you are less likely to spike your blood sugar levels so high).
Ideas to help pair soups are adding single or double cream, sour cream, Greek yoghurt, Crème fraîche, butter, meat, fish, egg, Quorn, tofu, avocado, nuts and seeds
Soups which can be much more tolerable are homemade from scratch. They can be more tolerable as you control which ingredients are used, meaning you can control the amount carbs, fat and protein added.
Here are some soup recipes to try which work well on a gestational diabetes diet. You may notice that we have avoided soups containing flour, lentils, chickpeas, barley, peas and sweetcorn. We have not included these are we find many ladies struggle to tolerate even homemade versions of soups containing these ingredients
Roast Chicken Soup
The recipe can be found on BBC Good Food Magazine
Slow Cooker Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Check out this recipe at Real House Moms and you could have this steamy, cheesy soup waiting for you at dinner time!
To help convert the ingredient amounts, use 950ml chicken stock, 1 large or 2 smaller leek sliced, 375g grated cheese (but use more if you wish!), 120ml double cream
Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic, Goat Cheese and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Butternut squash soup is lovely, but to make it more tolerable for gestational diabetes, this particular recipe which uses goats cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds increases the fat and protein in the dish, meaning it is paired better!
You can find the recipe at Domesticate Me
Ham & Egg Noodle Soup
The noodles in this recipe are egg noodles, but could be changed to a noodle which you tolerate best (soba noodles, made from buckwheat flour are a good choice to try).
Try out the recipe from My Fussy Eater
Creamy Mushroom Soup
This simple creamy mushroom soup is sure to give great levels (as long as you leave off the ciabatta!) Leftover roast chicken could also be added to increase the protein and fat content, making a creamy chicken & mushroom soup.
You can see the recipe which has been shared on the Jamie Oliver website
Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
If you like Thai inspired flavours, then this recipe shared on Tesco should be an enjoyable recipe.
It's advisable to omit the sugar or replace it with sweetener, but all the other ingredients make this a great choice on the gestational diabetes diet.
Indian Spiced Cauliflower Soup
If you fancy something with a little bit more spice, then you may prefer this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Indian Spiced Cauliflower soup.
Only add the basmati rice if you tolerate it well.
West African Peanut Soup
How about trying something very different? Here we have a recipe from Cookie and Kate which uses a favourite gestational diabetes ingredient, peanut butter!
For help choosing a good peanut butter to use, check out our peanut butter post.
Take a look at the recipe shared by Jacqueline O'Donnell on Herald Scotland
Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew
No it's not really a soup, but it is a great recipe which works well when you're craving something hot and filling for lunch!
Need more help?
For more information on following the diet we advocate, take a look at our 8 golden rules for eating. If you're still struggling for ideas and inspiration, looking for extra hints & tips, shopping lists, recipes and help with takeaways and eating out then take a look at our membership options which can be found here.