A bowl of piping hot soup can hit the spot on a cold day, especially after spending time outdoors. But soup doesn’t just offer a great way to warm up. Soups are a hearty, healthy and budget-friendly way to feed your family.
Since many Americans, including children, don’t get the recommended amount of vegetables, soup is a great way to increase your family’s vegetable intake. Vegetable-based soups often include increased nutrients — including vitamin A and vitamin C. Research has shown that compared with solid foods like cheese or crackers, soup leads to reduction of hunger and increases fullness (satiety). Soup is also healthy because it tends to be lower in calories.
Cream-based soup, while tasty, can be high in fat and calories and is less healthy than broth-based soups. For example, 1 cup of canned, ready-to-serve New England Clam Chowder has 201 calories and 10 grams of fat, compared with vegetable soup, which has 90 calories and 0.8 gram of fat.
In addition, homemade soup is a better choice than canned soup because canned soup is often high in sodium due to the salt that is added as flavoring. Even reduced-sodium canned soups can have almost 20% of the daily value of sodium. This is especially concerning, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 90% of U.S. children aged 6-18 eat too much sodium each day.
Soup is an easy kitchen staple, even for the most novice of cooks. For healthy homemade soup recipes beyond the traditional chicken noodle soup, I often consult recipe websites like delish. If you’re working on a budget, look for recipes that include leftovers or budget-friendly pantry staples. For instance, two of my favorites are ham and bean soup — which is a good way to use leftover ham — and quinoa vegetable soup, which is a great vegetarian option and uses pantry-friendly quinoa.
Don’t forget that various soups can be made in the crockpot or Instant Pot, which cuts down on your prep time. Also, if you’re feeding a crowd or like to have sides with a main dish, whole-grain bread or salad always pairs well with soups and can help round out your meal.
Soups aren’t just tasty; they’re an easy way to increase your family’s vegetable intake while providing an economical and nourishing meal.