A hearty bowl of soup is likely to hit the spot when you need something to shake off the cold -- or just to get through the first 24 hours following dental work. But not all soups are created equal. Follow these simple rules to a satisfying, healthy starter or entrée.
1. Try miso or minestrone before a meal.
If you’re watching your weight -- and who isn’t? -- have a broth-based soup,
like minestrone or Japanese miso, before your main course. Studies show that
this simple step can cut calorie intake at a meal by 20 percent.
2. Beware of canned soups.
Canned soups are notorious for their high sodium content: Some contain close to
1,000 milligrams for a 1-cup serving, or almost half the recommended daily
amount! Guard against high blood pressure and heart problems by choosing
reduced-sodium or low-sodium varieties. Federal guidelines require that any
food with a healthy claim does not exceed 480 mg of sodium per serving, but
that's still high: Instead, aim for 200 mg or less.
3. Get your toppings on the side.
In restaurants, soups are often topped off with bacon, sour cream, guacamole,
cheddar cheese and/or croutons, all of which pile on fat and calories. Ask for
your soup without the garnishes, or get them on the side and sprinkle on a
portion. At home, try a handful of popcorn on top for added crunch without the
4. Steer clear of cream-based soups.
of anything adds about 100 calories per cup, so while it may seem like a good
way to get in some vegetables, think again. Other high-fat popular restaurant
soups include lobster bisque, New England clam chowder and gumbo. The good news
is you can modify these recipes at home using low-fat or nonfat milk to keep
the fat and calories to a minimum.
About the Writer
Densie Webb is a registered dietitian and the author of The Dish: On Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous. She frequently writes for Completely You.