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!
As an example, Heinz lentil soup contains 17g carbs per HALF tin, the equivalent to 4.25 tsp of sugar with very little to pair the carbs
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 than whole foods
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 and serving sizes!
Tinned soups can have higher 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 sized tin of soup is 400g and so most will eat at least half a tin, or 200g. Some cans have nutritional information ‘per serving’. Please note: a serving may differ depending on the size of the can/tub, so always double check the amount you are planning to eat.
Watch out for some vegetarian soups!
Unfortunately there are some very high carbs in some vegetarian or vegan soups. Higher carbs tend to be found in soups such as lentil, tomato, vegetable, potato & leek 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 10 store bought soups
1. LOWEST CARB SOUP! Broccoli and Stilton fresh soups
The lowest carb soups I have found are fresh Broccoli & Stilton. Comparing online [Nov 2019], I found Tesco to have the lowest amount of carbs at 1.8g per 100g. ASDA’s has more carbs at 3g per 100g, so bear in mind that although the soups may sound the same, they can vary in carb amounts.
These fresh soups are usually sold in 600g tubs and cartons, so it is important to think about how much you plan on eating e.g. 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 0.1g difference in total carbs per 100g is New Covent Garden Co Wild Mushroom soup. Made with simple ingredients which include single cream, which makes this soup a better choice with only 1.9g carbs per 100g
3. Butternut Squash Soups
4. Yorkshire Provender Cauliflower Soup
This Yorkshire Provender Cauliflower soup is a super moreish cauliflower soup which contains Fountains Gold Cheddar and kale. If you are a fan of cauliflower cheese, then this soup won’t disappoint (and it’s my current favourite go-to store bought soup at the mo!) With just 3.4g carbs per 100g it’s a better soup to try. *This one does contain potatoes and so if you struggle with anything potato related, avoid this one and choose one of the others instead.
5. Yorkshire Provender Roast Chicken Soup
Yorkshire Provender have done well again with this roast chicken and vegetable soup. With only 3.8g carbs pr 100g it deserves a place on this list. *Once again, this soup contains potatoes which may not be well tolerated by all.
6. Tesco Finest Green Thai Chicken Soup
If you fancy something with a bit more spice, with only 3.8g 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
7. ASDA Chicken & Mushroom soup
Although there are a few soups such as butternut squash and carrot that come close carbs wise, the chicken and double cream in this helps increase the protein and fat, making this soup more tolerable than vegetable alone. ASDA chicken & mushroom soup has 4.4g carbs per 100g
8. 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 4.9g carbs per 100g. Please note that a standard size can is 400g.
9. Heinz Cream of Tomato Soups
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 No Added Sugar Cream of Tomato soup which has 25% less salt and no added sugar, at 5.0g carbs per 100g, so only just higher in carbs than the cream of chicken, however it has less protein and fat than than the chicken (which helps with pairing the carbs). Therefore half a tin of this soup contains 10g carbs, equivalent of 2 ½ 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 known better tolerated 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 I have avoided sharing soups containing flour, lentils, chickpeas, barley, peas and sweetcorn. I have not included these as we find many ladies struggle to tolerate even homemade versions of soups containing these ingredients
Jo’s homemade chicken broth
This recipe is a great way to use up meat bones, off-cuts and vegetable ends/peelings. It makes for a great base for most homemade soups and as a stock for other recipes. It’s easy on the tummy, easily digested and doesn’t spike blood glucose levels. It can also be frozen.
Broth recipe ingredients:
• carcass of chicken/meat joint bones (leftover from a roast)
• 2 large sticks of celery, chopped into 2cm chunks
• 2 large carrots, chopped into 2cm chunks
• 1 large onion, skin on, quartered
• 1/2 a whole bulb of garlic, skin on, smashed with knife blade
• 2 dried bay leaves
• 2 tsp of dried (or fresh) thyme
• 2 tsp of dried (or fresh) rosemary
• a good pinch of sea salt
• a good grind of ground black pepper, or tsp of black peppercorns
• 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• cold water
This recipe can also be made with chopped veggie ends, peelings etc. I often add in any leftover roasted veg from the Sunday roast such as parsnip or butternut squash too
• Place the chicken carcass/meat joint bones, the vegetables, herbs and seasoning into a large pan
• Add cold water, enough to cover the carcass/bones and apple cider vinegar
• Cover the pan and bring to the boil on a high heat
• Reduce the heat to a low simmer and leave to cook until the broth has reduced (at least 2 hrs plus – this can also be done in a slow cooker. I usually put mine on in the morning and cook it all day!)
• Using a fine colander or cheesecloth, strain the broth to remove the vegetables, bones & skin, reserving any pieces of meat and vegetables that you want to add back in to the broth
• The broth can be served as is, or you can add double cream to turn this into a creamy chicken soup!
Roast Chicken Soup
This roast chicken soup uses left over roast chicken and makes for a tasty economical family friendly recipe.
The recipe can be found on BBC Good Food Magazine
Slow Cooker Cauliflower Cheese Soup
There’s lots of great cauliflower cheese soup recipes out there, but I’ve picked this one as it doesn’t contain any flour and you can cook it in the slow cooker, which is great for busy Mums.
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 leeks 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
Ham and eggs, both great sources of protein and fat, so this recipe is definitely worth trying.
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.
I had to include this Scottish classic fish soup recipe, but it’s one that should only be tried if you tolerate potatoes well as fish does not pair carbs as well as meat.
Take a look at the recipe shared by Jacqueline O’Donnell on Herald Scotland
Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew
If you’re struggling with soup, then why not try the next best thing…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!
- 600 grams diced beef (braising, stewing steak and cheap cuts works well)
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large leek sliced
- 2 sticks celery chopped
- 4 medium carrots chopped thick
- 100 grams button mushrooms halved
- 1 whole rich beef stock pot gel Knorr, OXO, or stores own brand
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 whole beef OXO cube
- 300 ml cold water
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 100 ml red wine (optional) increase cold water to 400ml if not using
- Prep all the vegetables, chopping them roughly or as chunky as you would like
- OPTIONAL STEP: Melt the butter in a large pan and add the beef. Seal the beef on all sides so that there is slight browning on each piece, then add the beef and juice from the pan into the slow cooker OR you can add the beef raw (as long as it's not frozen)
- Add the vegetables, herbs and stock pot into the slow cooker
- Crush a beef OXO cube into 400ml of cold water, stir and pour over the ingredients in the slow cooker. (You could substitute 100ml of water for red wine instead if you wish)
- Set the slow cooker on low to cook for 6-8 hours (or high for 4 hours)
- Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve with a small serving of a well-tolerated starchy carb of your choice or you could add the carb into the dish for cooking eg. butter beans, lentils, new potatoes. Some also like adding a big spoonful of crème fraîche on top with some finely chopped parsley. I served mine here with cauliflower mash as I added some sliced new potatoes into the stew
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, even more recipes and help with takeaways and eating out then take a look at our membership options which can be found here.