12 Best Gluten-Free Soups, Stews, Chowders, & Chili
There’s nothing like a piping hot bowl of soup to complement a meal—or serve as one. Our reader-favorite gluten-free recipes range from filling chowders to tasty chili to healing soups.
[Updated Oct. 24, 2015]
“Soup is comfort food at its best: warm, restorative, and packed with nutrients," writes Sueson Vess, one of our regular contributors. "Whether hearty or light, creamy or clear, chunky or smooth, a good soup is a cook’s masterpiece.”
She's right. From the healing power of chicken or vegetable soup to a filling portion of corn or clam chowder, and from spicy chili to a hearty stew, there’s nothing quite like a piping hot bowl of comfort food to complement a meal or to serve as the main course.
If you need a special diet because of gluten sensitivity or food allergies, you may have to get extra creative with your soups. Over the years, our expert chefs and kitchen masters have produced a steady stream of file-worthy soup recipes. The 12 examples listed here rank as your favorites.
They're “rich in lycopene, which destroys free radicals and helps protect against several types of cancer,” as noted in Women's Nutrition Connection, a newsletter published by Weill Cornell Medical College. “Lower risks of stomach, lung and prostate cancers have been linked with the consumption of cooked tomatoes and tomato products.” Tomatoes also may help lower the risk of stroke, according to Harvard Health Publications, as well as cardiovascular disease.
Broccoli is also a beneficial food, offering essential vitamins and minerals in addition to fiber. We like how Catherine Golub put it in Environmental Nutrition: Broccoli “is the cancer-fighting cruciferous crusader of the produce isle. Packed with vitamins A, C and K, folate and beta-carotene, broccoli is also a source of the minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium.”
Put tomatoes and broccoli together in a soup and you can benefit from both. Sueson Vess shows you how with her Gluten-Free Tomato Broccoli Soup. Click here for the recipe, which provides four to six servings with a calorie count of around 110 in each.
A light tomato broth serves as the basis of this delicious soup, which includes onion, jalapenos, peppers, garlic, and pinto beans. Author Isa Chandra Moskowitz recommends stirring crushed tortilla chips into the soup to give it a full-bodied texture. A 15-ounce can of pinto beans contributes to this nutrient-heavy soup; all told, it offers 10 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber.
Moskowitz originally adapted this recipe from her book Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast & Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. Find the details here.
Kale has become a trendy vegetable, and with good reason. It’s loaded with fiber, protein, and vitamins A, C, and K. “With a mere 36 calories, one cup of kale delivers five grams of fiber, 200 percent of your daily vitamin C, 180 percent of vitamin A, and 40 percent of magnesium,” as Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter reports.
In this unique recipe by Aran Goyoaga, kale co-stars with lentil in a protein-rich soup flavored by curry powder, coriander, and cumin along with onions and a bit of lemon juice. Click here for details.
Back in the April/May 2010 issue of Gluten-Free & More, we featured an interview with Nick Lorenz, founder of Las Vegas-based Lorenz Catering and a chef known for his special-diet dishes. Interviewer Bonnie Siegler asked Lorenz for his favorite recipes, and Broccoli Puree Soup is one that he offered up. It since has become a reader favorite, too.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger loves this soup and so does Steven Spielberg,” Lorenz says. “It’s a big hit. I think it’s the light coconut milk that does the trick. For a different look, serve it hot in coffee cups instead of bowls.” Click here for the details.
Chowder goes back centuries; in fact, many generations ago, it was considered a poor man's food. Today, of course, a great chowder is a treat, and this one is perfect example.
Seven ingredients and minimal preparation time will result in a chicken-broth-based corn chowder that contributor Connie Sarros calls “an old-time favorite.” She mentions minced clams, undrainted, as a optional ingredient. Her gluten-free creation can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for later use. Find the full recipe here.
A family recipe inspired this recipe’s development in Gluten Free & More’s test kitchen. As our food editor wrote, “Satisfying, chunky, and creamy-rich, this allergy-friendly soup warms you up as the weather grows colder.”
Potato, parsley, chives, and a light whipping cream (or a dairy-free milk of your choice) are the main ingredients, but if you’re feeling adventurous, add corn, sautéed, mushrooms, onions, peppers, or other goodies. For the full recipe, click here.
6. Pasta e Fagioli:
In Italy, it's pasta e fagioli; Americans often call it “pasta fazool.” Either way, it’s the same hearty stew of tomatoes, beans, pasta, and ground meat. Food Editor Beth Hillson’s version calls for ground chicken or turkey, but if you want vegetarian, you can omit the meat and have a just-as-delicious dish.
Hillson's pasta e fagioli is a simple one to execute and, as she promises, it tastes even better the second day (just make a new batch of pasta to go with the leftover soup). Find the recipe here.
Apple adds a bit of tartness to this otherwise sweet butternut-squash soup, says author Aran Goyoaga. Ingredients include leek, a russet potato, thyme, chicken stock, sage leaves, parsnips, garlic, and pepper—all of which add up to a unique and satisfying soup. Click here for full instructions.
A story in Tufts University’s Health & Nutrition Letter notes, “As a delicious harbinger of spring, asparagus is one of the most celebrated of all vegetables. There is no need to get bored with it because there are so many tasty ways to prepare it.”
One of the most useful ways is right here: our Gluten-Free Condensed Cream of Asparagus soup. Use it to replace commercial condensed soups for a healthy and warming treat.
For variety, says author Madalene Rhyand, replace asparagus with broccoli, celery, tomato paste, or mushrooms. Find her recipe here.
Mary Capone, who penned The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook: Classic Cuisine from the Italian Countryside, offers this protein-packed soup.
A variety of white bean and pasta soup recipes can be found throughout Italy, she notes; this one, adapted from a family recipe, has been refashioned to exclude gluten and dairy products. It serves four to six, with each serving accounting for around 250 calories. Click here for Capone’s recipe.
Got chicken or turkey leftovers from last night? Use them in this delicious and filling chili creation. Chopped garlic, minced onions, green pepper, chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, pepper—it’s all here to flavor the chicken broth, squash, corn, and shredded (or diced) chicken or turkey. Vegetarian?
Substitute vegetarian broth for chicken broth and replace the poultry with two extra cans of beans. The full recipe is here.
Your favorite among our soup recipes? Contributor Sueson Vess’s outstanding minestrone, a hearty meal in itself, ranks at the top. She adapted it from her book Simple, Delicious Solutions for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cooking.
The recipe calls for potatoes, cabbage, green beans, Swiss chard, zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots plus a variety of beans (kidney, adzuki, and/or small red beans plus navy beans or other white beans, all drained and rinsed).
The soup should cook for a little more than three hours, and the recipe will deliver six to 10 servings, each of them containing 355 calories. Click here for instructions.
Compiled by Larry Canale. Original recipe authors cited above.