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Nutrition Articles  ›  Meals and Food

Super Healthy Soups

How to Make a Healthy Selection

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian
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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.
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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.

Member Comments

  • I make most of my soups at home, too. There are so few vegetarian options and making it at home saves money. First I will saute onions in some oil (no more than a tablespoon). I do like using Better than Bouillon vegetable base to make it easier. Then I just add whatever beans, vegetable and starch (diced potatoes are good) that I want to it. Yum! Since it is snowing, today will be a good soup day. - 3/16/2014 1:43:01 PM
  • I also love to make soup, especially in the winter. I generally make a big pot on the weekend and freeze individual portions to take to work for lunch. I have a short lunch break, but like a hot meal at least once a day, so nuking my soup is a great way to deal with that challenge! I occasionally buy canned soup, but only when I'm in the States and only when it's on sale. Progresso Lentil is a long-time favorite (and, no, I don't work for them)! - 1/18/2014 8:23:41 AM
  • We usually have a couple types of home made soups in the frig, especially in the winter.... right now white bean soup and hot Mexican vegetable soup (made with rotel). Yumm - 1/8/2014 3:18:26 PM
  • I make soup every week and freeze in one cup servings. I take one container out each morning before I go for my walk, by noon its thawed and heat it in the microwave. I add five saltines and a apple and I am set for lunch. I like changing my soup up allot never make the same kind in a month. - 12/10/2013 6:49:32 PM
  • TIP on eating less:
    apparently smooth soups (in contrast to broth-based with bits of veggies, meat etc) are more filling, the effect lasts longer. You can simply smooth a soup with your mixer.
    Quickest soup recipe I know: mix 1 part strong broth and 1 part pureed tomatoes, heat up, add herbs to your liking. - 11/9/2013 3:27:36 PM
    Good article in general..... Great idea in general. It really bothers me, however, that even the lower-in-calorie soups are so darned high in sodium. It seems to me that a person could make their own version without so much sodium once or twice a week and reap the same benefits (minus the sodium). I actually am going to make some soup right now and do this. Thanks for a great article!! - 11/5/2013 11:30:44 AM
    A great article...I really like the specific guidelines of what to look for on the nutrition label. While soup is easy to make for some people, there are those who may not be as comfortable in a kitchen. Also, while I do make my own soups sometimes, I appreciate the availability of healthy options. - 10/30/2013 8:27:49 PM
  • Why a list of soups to buy? You can make soup faster than you can open a can!!! - 10/24/2013 11:03:16 AM
  • I'm with Debbie. I thought this was recipes. - 10/24/2013 6:20:48 AM
  • Sadly for whatever reason if seems like a lot of these brands are not available where I live , Mostly there are just lipton's Campbells and some store brands. - 10/21/2013 10:04:46 PM
  • We're getting to the time of year when soups just sound so good on a chilly evening or even for lunch at work. Super comfort food too. Great article. - 10/21/2013 9:49:48 PM
  • When it starts to get cold, like this past week-end, I like to make soups. Made chili w/both kidney and navy beans and lots of chunky tomatoes. super yummy! Also made 2 pots of chicken dumpling soup. Will be eating both between lunch and dinner all week! - 10/21/2013 9:48:28 PM
  • I keep Progresso Light, Zesty Southwestern-Styl
    e Vegetable on hand for lunch as it is low on calories and carbs. Since my DH and I have Hyperglycemia we watch the carbs, and the calories take care of themselves. I do wish they would use less salt in everything canned though. People could add their own. What a concept!
    - 10/21/2013 2:25:48 PM
  • I too prefer homemade soup, but it's not always possible. This is where reading the labels and making smart choices comes in. Unfortunately, many of the "light" soups have very little taste to them. They're watery, and not very good.
    I'd like to experiment with some homemade soups that I haven't tried to make, such as butternut squash soup. - 10/21/2013 10:38:24 AM
  • I make and can soups at home. (The ONLY safe way to home-can soups is with a pressure canner. Please don't try it unless you have access to a pressure canner.) That means I can control what goes into our diets. Most importantly, my soups have half the sodium of commercially canned soups - if not less - but they still have the full flavor.

    Even better? When my husband pulls a half-pint jar of soup out of the cupboard, he says it's like seeing a little jar of love. :) - 10/20/2013 12:02:49 PM