As the weather turns cooler, a bowl of hot soup sounds better and better. It’s a comforting meal that’s often served to help make a loved one feel better or warm a person up after coming in from the cold outside air. But while canned soups are convenient, they are often high in sodium.
A half cup of a name-brand canned soup variety contains 860 milligrams of sodium, which is 36 percent of the Daily Value (anything over 20 percent is considered to be high). But that Daily Value is based on 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day, not 1,500 milligrams which is the recommendation for more than half the United States population. Thus, this half cup of soup actually provides 57 percent of the Daily Value, making these comforting bowls of canned soups a “nutritional no-no.”
The next question you must ask yourself is, “who eats just a half cup of soup?” Most people can easily consume the contents in the whole can, which has 2.5 servings per can. Therefore, this name-brand soup just gave you 2,150 milligrams of sodium!
Some soups may have the word “healthy” or “light” on them, but don’t be fooled. While the fat and sodium may be less, it may still have close to 20 percent of the Daily Value for sodium. Excess sodium in the diet can increase blood pressure and increase the risk for a heart attack and stroke. Consider making your own lower-sodium soups. To do so, you must avoid high-sodium ingredients, such as regular broth or stock, canned vegetables, garlic and onion salt, and of course, salt! Use a sodium-free powder bouillon or homemade stock. Use frozen, fresh or no-salt-added canned vegetables. Choose garlic and onion powder and avoid adding any salt. Make your own low-sodium cream soup with the recipe below!
Soup or Sauce (SOS) Mix
Makes 9 (10.5 ounce) cans of cream soup
2 cups powdered non-fat dry milk
¾ cup cornstarch
¼ cup sodium-free instant chicken bouillon
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (optional)
Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or plastic bag.
To substitute for 1 can of cream soup:
Combine 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1¼ cups of cold water. Whisk until well-blended.
Cook and stir on stove top or in microwave until thickened.
Add thickened mixture to casseroles or skillet meals as you would a can of soup.
Smith is nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306.