Soups have many benefits. They’re filling, comforting, easy to prepare, and make you feel better when you’re sick. Soups are nutrient-rich and a great way to fit veggies into your diet. Soup is also easy to prepare and it goes a long way so you can feed the whole family with just one pot. Having a cup of soup before a meal will fill you up, allowing you to save calories by eating less of the main course.
But you have to be careful and know what you’re eating. Some soups are not as healthy as they seem. Watch for key words in the title of the soup. For example, “cream of…,” “bisque,” “creamy,” “cheesy,” and “chowder.” The cream base in chowders and bisques contain added fat and calories that make them unhealthy. Canned soups can be backed with sodium. Choose the “low sodium” or “no salt added” options. Here’s just an idea of approximately how many calories and fat are in some of the most popular soups:
Bowl of French Onion soup: 435 calories, 31g fat
Bowl of Baked Potato soup: 770 calories, 47g fat
Cream of Broccoli: 408calories, 30g fat
Broccoli Cheese: 230calories, 14g fat
Creamy Tomato Soup: 321calories, 25g fat
Clam Chowder: 298 calories, 20g fat
Steer clear of the extra fat and calories by choosing healthier options. Look for broth based or tomato based soups. Choose soups that are loaded with vegetables and low fat meats, such as chicken or turkey.
When making soups at home, try using pureed potatoes (cooked) instead of heavy cream. You can also use just a little bit of heavy cream instead of the full amount the recipe asks for. Use chicken or vegetable broth or tomato base whenever possible.
At a restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask the staff what the ingredients are. You can also check out the nutritional information on the restaurant’s website before you go out to eat. Being aware of what is in your soup is the key. Steer clear of the chowders, bisques, and cream soups and you’ll keep that extra weight off!
Shelly Edens is a registered dietician with Memorial Hospital.