Nutrition Articles

Super Healthy Soups

How to Make a Healthy Selection

Take stock the next time you walk through the soup aisle at your local grocery store. Soup can be good and healthy food. It can be a tasty way to add healthy beans, legumes, grains and vegetables to your diet. It's a convenient, yet inexpensive way to add protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet. And soup is both comforting and filling—a hot, savory bowl can help take the chill out of the fall and winter seasons. Want more reasons to ladle up?
  • Soup may curb your appetite. Studies show that people who eat broth or vegetable-based soups (not creamy or high-fat ones) as the first course of a meal consume fewer total calories during their meal. In fact, study participants consumed 20% fewer calories when they started their meal with soup!
  • Soup can help you slow down. Eating a bowl of soup involves spooning, slurping, smelling, tasting, chewing, and swallowing. This helps you slow down your eating time instead of inhaling your food. Slower eaters tend to notice signs of fullness sooner and consume fewer calories by better enjoying their food in the moment.
  • Soup stimulates the senses. These warm concoctions have unique aromas, tastes, enjoyable temperatures and visual interest, which add to the pleasure you experience when eating.

But beware! Canned soups can be loaded with sodium and fat. But you can make healthy choices in the soup aisle by going straight for the nutrition label. Pay attention to serving size, as many cans contain two or more servings. Look for soups with the following nutrient levels per 1-cup serving:
  • 250 calories (or less) per serving, to keep your diet in check.
  • 3 grams of fat (or less) per serving, to protect your heart.
  • 3 grams of fiber (or more) per serving, for filling power.
  • 600 mg of sodium (or less) per serving, to help keep blood pressure in check.
In addition to these guidelines, you can boost the nutrition, flavor and filling power of your soup with the following additions:
  • Add your favorite herbs and spices to boost the flavor of reduced-sodium soups. Experiment with pepper, basil, parsley, oregano, garlic, ginger, or salt-free seasoning blends like Mrs. Dash.
  • Add calcium and protein (without extra fat) by reconstituting your soup with skim milk, evaporated skim milk, non-fat dry milk powder, or calcium-fortified soymilk instead of water, whole milk or cream.
  • Add frozen or leftover veggies to increase the fiber, vitamins and minerals in your soup. Spinach, broccoli, corn, celery, carrots and potatoes work well in most soups.
  • Add beans and whole grains for more fiber, protein and filling power. Try potatoes, beans, lentils, lima beans, brown rice, barley, or whole wheat pasta.
The following list contains some popular soups (in alphabetical order) that fit the recommendations above. These brands and varieties are available at your local grocery store or online. This product information may change, however, so always check nutrition labels before you buy.

Healthy Canned Soups (Nutrition Information per 1-cup serving) 
Soup Brand and Variety Calories Fat (g) Protein (g) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Carbs
Amy’s, Organic Summer Corn & Vegetable 150 3 4 2 560 23
Amy’s, Butternut Squash 100 2 2 2 290 20
Amy’s, Minestrone 90 1.5 3 3 580 17
Amy’s, Chunky Tomato Bisque 130 3.5 3 3 340 21
Amy’s, Vegetable Barley 70 1 2 3 580 13
Campbell ’s Healthy Request, Beef with Country Vegetables 110 1.5 6 3 410 17
Campbell ’s Healthy Request, Chunky Chicken Noodle 110 2.5 7 2 410 14
Campbell ’s Healthy Request, Chunky Chicken/Sausage Gumbo 140 3 6 3 410 22
Campbell ’s Healthy Request, Chunky New England Clam Chowder 130 3 5 2 410 20
Campbell ’s Healthy Request, Chunky Old Fashioned Vegetable Beef 120 2.5 6 3 410 19
Campbell ’s Healthy Request, Chunky Vegetable 110 1 3 4 410 23
Healthy Choice, Bean and Ham 180 2.5 11 6 480 28
Healthy Choice, Chicken Dumpling 150 3 8 3 480 22
Healthy Choice, Chicken with Rice 110 2 6 2 390 17
Healthy Choice, Chicken Tortilla 140 1.5 9 6 390 23
Healthy Choice,  Country Vegetable 100 0 4 4 480 19
Healthy Choice, Garden Vegetable 130 0.5 5 4 450 24
Healthy Choice, Hearty Chicken 130 2 8 3 480 18
Healthy Choice, New England Clam 110 1.5 4 3 480 20
Healthy Choice, Chicken Noodle 90 1 8 1 390 12
Healthy Choice, Split Pea and Ham 160 2.5 12 6 470 27
Healthy Choice, Vegetable Beef 130 1.5 9 4 420 21
Healthy Choice, Zesty Gumbo 100 2 5 2 460 15
Pacific Organic, Vegetable Lentil 150 .5 8 7 490 27
Pacific Organic, Chicken Noodle 90 1.5 5 1 460 12
Progresso Heart Healthy, Creole Style Chicken Gumbo 110 2 7 4 480 18
Progresso Heart Healthy, Roasted Chicken Noodle 90 2 6 1 480 13
Progresso Heart Healthy, Savory Chicken and Wild Rice 120 2 6 1 470 20
Progresso Heart Healthy, Tomato with Parmesan 90 1 3 3 480 18
Progresso Reduced Sodium, Italian-Style Wedding 110 3 6 4 480 18
Progresso Light, Beef Pot Roast 80 2 7 2 490 10
Progresso Light, Homestyle Vegetable & Rice 60 0 2 4 470 14
Progresso Light, Italian Style Meatball 80 2 3 2 480 13
Progresso Light, Roasted Chicken & Vegetable 70 1 5 2 440 10
Progresso Light, Savory Vegetable Barley 60 0 2 4 480 14
Progresso Light, Zesty Santa Fe Style Chicken 80 1 5 2 460 12
Progresso Light, Zesty Southwestern-Style Vegetable 60 1 3 4 470 12
Healthy Soups Cups and Microwavable Soup Bowls (Nutrition Information per 1-cup serving) 
Soup Brand and Variety Calories  Fat (g) Protein (g) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Carbs
Campbell ’s Chunky Healthy Request, Chicken Noodle  110 2.5 7 2 410 14
Campbell ’s Chunky Healthy Request Chicken/Sausage Gumbo  130 3 7 2 410
Campbell ’s Healthy Request, Italian-Style Wedding  100 2.5 6 2 410 13
Campbell ’s 100% Natural, Mexican-Style Chicken Tortilla  130  2.5 7  3 410 19
Campbell's Healthy Request, Classic Tomato 120 0 3 2 410 17
Healthy Choice, Chicken Noodle 90 1 8  1 390 12
Healthy Choice, Beef Pot Roast  100  1  6 3 430 18
Healthy Choice, Chicken with Rice 90  2 6 1 390 13
Healthy Choice, Country Vegetable  100  0 4 4 480 20
Healthy Choice, Mediterranean Style Chicken with Orzo 90 1.5 7 2 390 11

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Member Comments

  • Parents (not televisions) should talk to children during dinnertime.
  • I have become a true label reader even if I am making my own soup. have to make sure the broth and vegetables have the lowest sodium levels out there
  • I don't even buy the canned soups any more - way too much sodium in them. I will now make a huge pot of soup and then put it into smaller containers and freeze it. Then I just take one out, put in fridge to thaw, reheat and enjoy. This way I have much better control of the sodium content of what I eat every day. Thanks Goodness for a deep freezer :)
  • I try to keep my sodium (preferably naturally occurring) intake under 300 mgs per meal, so most prepackaged soups are off my list. I always buy the low- or no-salt added items wherever possible.
  • Because we are committed to eating, and serving others, organic, NON-GMO real food, am very glad to see both AMY'S ORGANIC and PACIFIC ORGANIC soups included on this (2007) list. Pacific Foods and Amy's are the only two brands that I would willingly select from this list. As often as possible (very often), I also prefer making my own soups. Especially easy-to-make ones, like bean soups, and lentil soups. Thanks again!
  • I make my own soup! Two calories per minute of kitchen time burnt, all the fresh ingredients, exactly the way I like it, and as little sodium as I wish! Endless flavors and so economical!
    The most disappointing thing about some of the better brands, is just how loaded with sodium they are. I stopped buying canned soups a while ago. If I don't make it, we don't have it!
  • A caution I did not see or may have missed. Most cans of soup make two servings so if you eat an entire can for lunch double the calorie count. I often have a Progresso lunch with fruit.
  • I love soup and love to make it myself! Thanks for the great article. I will look up healthy soup recipes here.
  • I used to buy canned soups all the time - now it is pretty rare. It takes longer, but the sodium is very motivating to change and our family likes them.
  • Why not make your own homemade soup? Read the INGREDIENTS, not the calorie/fat info, and you will see that canned soups and broths contain all kinds of artificial and appetite-stimulat
    ing ingredients.

    Take the time to make a big pot of slow-simmered bone broth from organic soup bones. Throw in some veggies and healthy fat (grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive or avocado oil.

    Becky, you are in the pockets of the food industry, which does not make you a champion of my health, nor a reliable source of nutrition information.
  • I made chicken rice veggie soup today. Very low in sodium and so good. Especially when I think I'm getting a cold.
  • :( I did also expect some ideas for new homemade soups. It is really easy and inexpensive too. I make a pot of something on the weekend and have meals throughout the week for just a couple bucks. Lots of folks are challenged health-wise and money-wise by too many pre-made and processed foods.

About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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