As temperatures drop, many of us turn to a hot bowl of soup as comfort food. Soup can be nutritious and delicious, but if you lack the time, energy, or culinary skills to make a homemade batch of soup from scratch, you can choose from a wide range of canned varieties. To maintain a healthy diet, choose your soup carefully.
How to Choose a Healthy Canned Soup
When shopping for healthy canned soup, it’s important to read labels carefully. While you want to look at the ingredients (especially the sodium), it’s also important to consider the serving size. “As clear and concise as they appear, soup labels can be misleading,” notes Robin Millerholds a master’s degree in food and nutrition from New York University and author of eleven books, including the New York Times bestseller Quick meals. “Some are condensed (requiring water) and many expect you to split the box between two people.”
Some things to look for when studying soup labels:
- Sodium content. “When looking for a healthy canned soup, look for low-sodium options, as many varieties are loaded with this mineral,” says Lauren Manakerdietitian and author Fueling Male Fertility. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid sodium when buying anything canned. “Salt is a preservative, so it’s a necessary evil when it comes to canning,” says Miller. “If you really want to reduce your salt intake, go for low-sodium varieties. I don’t find there to be much of a difference in taste, so it’s a win-win. Plus, you won’t be wildly thirsty afterwards!
Healthy ingredients. Manaker recommends “leaning on choices made with lots of vegetables for extra nutrients.”
calories. This is another case where you should study the details. “The first, and often most highlighted, calorie count is ‘per serving,'” Miller said, adding. “Of course, 180 calories sounds awesome, until you find out your 11 ounce can serves two. I always head straight for the far right column where it says ‘per can’, knowing that I am going to eat everything delicious.
fat grams. “Cream-based soups are full of fat, but they’re not that satisfying because the serving size isn’t as big as, say, fettuccine Alfredo,” says Miller. “If you choose a creamy soup, balance the meal with healthier options, like a side salad or steamed vegetables.”
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Best Healthy Canned Soups
Campbell’s Condensed Healthy Request Vegetable Soup
Amazon reviewers have recommended this Campbell’s soup as a great budget option. It offers an assortment of vegetables combined with pasta in the shape of an alphabet (which will appeal to children), surrounded by a beef broth. Each serving contains 90 calories, 3g of protein and 410mg of sodium. Campbell’s Condensed Healthy Request Vegetable Soup (12 count), $46.80 at Amazon
Related: The 19 Best Soup Recipes
Health Valley Organic Chicken and Rice Soup, No Salt Added
Made from delicious, organic ingredients, this Health Valley soup meets the heart-healthy food criteria established by the American Heart Association. Each serving contains 100 calories, 4g of protein and only 85mg of sodium. Health Valley Organic Chicken and Rice Soup (12 count), $44.28 at Amazon
Amy’s Light in Sodium Organic Thick Tomato Bisque
Manaker recommends looking for soup stored in BPA-free cans, and this robust tomato soup from Amy’s fits the bill. It also has a hearty flavor thanks to the vine-ripened tomatoes. Each serving (a whole can) contains 230 calories, 5g of protein and 470mg of sodium. Amy’s Light in Sodium Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque, $3.66 at Walmart
Traditional Low Fat Progresso Chicken and Barley Soup
Miller describes this Progresso Chicken and Barley Soup as “hearty, satisfying, and loaded with tender barley pearls and veggies,” adding that it’s “not too bubbly considering the reasonable amount of calories.” . Each serving contains 90 calories, 5g of protein and 660mg of sodium. Progresso Low Fat Traditional Chicken Barley Soup, $5.16 at Amazon
Related: 10 Classic and Comforting Fall Soup Recipes
Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Bone Broth
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Made from clean, simple ingredients, this bone broth from Pacific Foods is a terrific base for a range of recipes, but it’s also satisfying on its own without any enhancements. Each serving contains 40 calories, 9g of protein and 125mg of sodium. Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Bone Broth (12 count), $27.44 at Amazon
Kettle and Fire Chicken Noodle Soup with Bone Broth
An Amazon reviewer proclaimed this Kettle and Fire Chicken Noodle Soup to be “the best tasting packaged soup” and noted that it seems to have a great healing effect that makes it perfect for when you’re feeling down. It is made from organic ingredients and contains no added sugar. Each serving contains 150 calories, 11 g of protein and 570 mg of sodium. Kettle and Fire Chicken Noodle Soup with Bone Broth (6 units), $47.94 at Amazon
Pho’nomenal Bowl Instant Pho Noodles Vietnamese Vegetable Soup
Instantly enjoy authentic Vietnamese noodle soup (okay, technically it’ll take 3 minutes in the microwave) and support a small business as a bonus. Inspired by traditional family recipes, this soup is gluten-free, dairy-free and full of flavor. Each serving contains 200 calories and 580 mg of sodium. Pho’nomenal Bowl Instant Pho Noodles Vietnamese Vegetable Soup (6 Count), $16.48 at Amazon
Related: 22 Best Weight Watchers Soup Recipes (With Points Included!)
Health Valley Organic No Salt Added Vegetable Soup
The “no added salt” label on the label of this Health Valley vegetable soup is a good sign, as is the fact that it’s made from organic ingredients including a dozen kinds of vegetables. Each serving contains 90 calories, 2g of protein and only 45mg of sodium. Health Valley Organic Vegetable Soup No Salt Added (12 count), $46.76 at Amazon
Campbell’s Good Yes! Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Perfect for on-the-go, this Campbell’s “Soup Sip” tastes delicious and robust and provides 40% of your daily vegetable needs. Each serving contains 170 calories, 3g of protein and 590mg of sodium. Campbell’s Good Yes! Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup (8 units), $13.44 at Amazon
Pacific Foods Organic Creamy Tomato Soup
This hearty tomato soup from Pacific Foods has a rich, tangy taste that makes it a great meal on its own, but it’s also perfect when used as a sauce or as a base for more complex soups or other meals. Each serving contains 110 calories, 5g of protein and 690mg of sodium. Pacific Foods Organic Creamy Tomato Soup, $4.12 at Walmart
Progresso Traditional Chicken Tortilla Soup
Miller says this Chicken Tortilla Soup from Progresso is “mildly spicy and tastes just like the restaurant version.” It’s made from chicken without antibiotics and no artificial flavors, but is relatively high in sodium, so it’s best eaten in moderation. Each serving contains 100 calories, 6g of protein and 650mg of sodium. Progresso Traditional Chicken Tortilla Soup (12 pieces), $27.48 at Amazon
Then check out these 18 low carb comfort food recipes to help you get through the winter.
- Lauren Manaker, registered dietitian and author of Fueling Male Fertility
Robin Millerholds a master’s degree in food and nutrition from New York University and author of eleven books, including the New York Times bestseller Quick meals
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