January is Soup Month for a good reason. There’s nothing like sitting in front of the fire with a bowl of hot and hearty soup. Not only is homemade soup warm and comforting, but it’s also a great way to get extra nutrients and vitamins that your body needs.
But does canned soup pack the same nutritious benefits as your grandma’s homemade vegetable soup? Not always.
Though it may be an easy and convenient alternative, the soup you find in a can isn’t always the healthiest option. Many canned soups lack the right balance of nutrients. In fact, some contain well over half your recommended daily sodium limit of 2000mg.
So how do you know if your favorite can of soup is healthy? Use the tips below to find the best-canned soup options.
How to Find a Healthy Can of Soup
Tip 1: Choose Fiber to Keep You Full Longer. Fiber is critical for gut health, and eating vegetables can be a great way for your digestive system to get the fiber it needs. When evaluating canned soups, reach for the options that contain fifty percent or more vegetables. Soups containing fiber-rich beans, chickpeas, and lentils or grains like brown rice and barley are great for your gut, and they will help you stay full longer.
Tip 2: Always Pick Protein. If you’ve ever eaten a big bowl of soup and still felt hungry, chances are the soup didn’t contain much (or any) protein. To ensure your bowl of soup leaves you warm inside and feeling fully satisfied, choose one with ingredients high in protein, like beef or chicken.
Tip 3: Have Some Soup. Hold the Sodium. Canned soups can be chock full of sodium (salt), which can be very dangerous to your health. Consuming more than the recommended daily amount can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, and other serious illnesses. Unfortunately, many canned soups contain large amounts of sodium, making it difficult to keep your sodium intake low. If you must eat canned soup, look for an option with less than 700mg of sodium per serving, or try diluting the soup with water or low-sodium broth to reduce the sodium content.
Tip 4: Pay Attention to Portions. When shopping for canned soups, be sure to check the nutrition label. The nutrition information panel on the label will inform you of how many servings are in each can. In some cases, soup cans are intended to be two servings, meaning the nutrition information on the label is only for half the can. And that means TWICE the sodium! Be sure you pay careful attention to the serving size and the nutrition label, so you know exactly what you are putting into your body.
Tip 5: Homemade Soup is Good for the Soul- And Your Health. The best way to ensure your soup is healthy is to make your own soups at home. This way you can control the ingredients. Soup is also an easy meal to make in bulk, which means you can freeze some and save it for another cold day.
The options for soup are endless, and it’s a great way to experiment with different flavors and ingredients. Plus, it’s an easy way to get creative in the kitchen and make something that is both delicious and nutritious.
Try These Healthy Homemade Soup Recipes
When it’s cold outside, don’t forget to make a big batch of your favorite healthy soup. Give these recipes a try!
Health Chicken Noodle Soup
YIELDS: 4 serving(s) PREP TIME: 10 minutes TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 5 minutes
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 c. Swanson Chicken Broth
3 c. water
Small bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (12-oz.) package of gluten-free noodles
1 bunch of Tuscan kale, stemmed and shredded
Juice of 1 lemon
- Step 1: In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon o foil. Season chicken all over with oregano, salt and pepper and add to pot. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 8 minutes per side.
- Step 2: Remove from pot and let rest 10 minutes before chopping into small chunks.
- Step 3: Add about 2 tbsp chicken broth to the skillet (it should bubble immediately!), then use a wooden spoon to scrape up the golden chicken bits. Let cook until most liquid has reduced down, then add the remaining tablespoon of oil.
- Step 4: When the oil is hot, add onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook until beginning to soften about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
- Step 5: Pour over broth and water and add bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a steady simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Step 6: Increase heat and bring mixture to boil, then add noodles. Cook until noodles are tender, about 7 minutes. Discard thyme stems and bay leaves, then stir in kale, lemon juice and chopped chicken.
Pesto Rice & Bean Soup
YIELDS: 4 serving(s) PREP TIME: 15 minutes TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ c. sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
½ c. short-grain brown rice, rinsed
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth or water, divided
1 (15.5-oz.) cans beans of your choice (such as butter beans and pink beans), rinsed and drained
½ c. pesto
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
Toasted pine nuts, for serving (optional)
Fresh herbs, for serving
- Step 1: In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook, occasionally stirring, until vegetables soften; 6 to 8 minutes. Add rice and stir until toasted, about 2 minutes.
- Step 2: Add 2 cups broth and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and let cook until rice is al dente, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Step 3: Return heat to medium and add beans and remaining broth. Stir to combine and continue cooking until slightly thickened, and rice is completely tender, 12 to 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in pesto.
- Step 4: Garnish with Parmesan, pine nuts, and herbs before serving.