Noodle Soup Without the Carbs

This is a go-to soup for when you just need to get something hot, healthy and nourishing on the table quickly. I developed this soup for myself when I was in a period of repeated late nights, coming home from work exhausted, chilled from a commute on a poorly heated streetcar, and not wanting to put in effort to get a nourishing meal. It comes together quickly and loads you up on veggies. Do all your prep and chopping beforehand so that nothing overcooks while you get the next ingredient ready.

Zucchini noodles are a real treat for anyone who’s off rice or going low carb and missing the tender texture and body of noodles in their soup. They’re easy to make with a spiral slicer, which also works on other vegetables like sweet potatoes or cucumbers. Higher end devices include the Spiralizer, but you can also find the more affordable Veggetti, which is what I use, in the kitchen section of many department stores. You simply twist the vegetable into the slicer, using the included guard to keep from grazing your knuckles on the blades when you near the end. It will leave a small cone-shaped nub, which I slice thinly and throw in with the noodles.

The Veggetti has two size settings. I use the “thick” setting for this recipe, which creates zucchini noodles about the same size as the noodles you’d find in a bowl of pho.

For each hungry person, you’ll need the following (you can scale back if you’re going to serve something alongside the soup):

3 cups water
1 ½ tsp vegetable broth mix (my go-to broth mix is GoBio yeast-free vegetable broth, which has no sugar or fungus, but you can also use a non-vegetarian broth if you prefer)
1 small zucchini, spiral sliced into noodles
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 bunch baby bok choy, washed and chopped (separate the white part from the leaves)
⅓ cup frozen shelled edamame
½ cup frozen green peas
Salt, pepper and garnish to taste

Bring the water and broth mix to a boil. Over high heat, stir in the rest of the ingredients in this order, 30 seconds between each: celery, edamame, zucchini, bok choy white part, peas, bok choy leaves. Remove from heat as soon as the bok choy leaves turn bright green.

Add salt and pepper (or cayenne) to taste. Optionally, splash with sesame oil or Braggs.

You can vary this basic recipe to meet your needs and taste. For example, you could thicken with arrowroot starch and add some garlic and protein of your choice (reducing the edamame) for a soup that feels a bit more like a Thai-Chinese rad na, or put in a teaspoon of green curry paste and ¼ cup coconut milk for a Thai curry-inspired flavor. Or you could throw in a fish fillet and let that cook before adding the vegetables, and season with basil or dill.


Pranada Devi has read up on nutrition and wellness since 2000. She has worked as a baker in an organic deli, helped to cater vegan weddings, and given talks in two languages on the ecological impact of dietary choices. She quit eating sugar in 2014 and caffeine in 2015 and, when her busy schedule as a communications advisor permits, she enjoys developing natural sugar-free recipes.