Healthy Hearty Winter Soups: Part 2

Healthy Hearty

What to look for in a bought soup

I had a great response to my article about making a healthy, hearty winter soup. But it seems that although everyone is excited about eating soup in the colder weather, there are not many people who have the time or the inclination to make their own. Without fail, the people who commented on the article, asked me what they should be looking for in a bought, ready-made soup.

While Home-made is always going to be first prize, I understand the need for convenience at the end of a long day or a long week, or even for a quick lunch at the office.

What are the guidelines for buying soup?
To start with let’s look at what not to buy...

First and foremost avoid powdered soups that you mix with water and boil. They contain a lot of flour ingredients (to thicken the soup) and the salt content is usually very high. Not to mention all of the added anti-caking agents, colourants and preservatives.

Canned soups are often similar to powdered soups in that the salt content is very high.

Stock cubes and powders are useful for adding flavour and salt to a homemade soup, but they are not soup. Neither is Bovril or Marmite.

So, now that I have eliminated half of the soup available at the grocery store, what should you be looking for?

I would recommend looking for a soup that is as fresh as possible. A good guideline here would be that it has a relatively short shelf life and that you find it in the fridge.

Look at the list of ingredients. Try and choose soups where the vegetables or legumes are listed first. Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight, so those present in the highest quantity are first on the list. If flour or salty ingredients are within the first 5 ingredients, move in to the next one.

Look at the fat content of the soup. Creamy soups will have a fairly high fat content, while vegetable soups should have a fairly low fat content. While fat is not the enemy, it is a concentrated source of calories, which add up quickly and contribute to the winter spread. Look for a soup that contains no more than 5g to 10g of fat per serving.

Check the salt content. Salt will be listed in the nutrition information table as sodium. Try and choose a soup that contains less than 120mg per 100ml of soup.

By far the biggest problem with soup as a meal is that it can be deficient in low GI carbohydrate and/or protein. Choosing a minestrone soup, or a meat or chicken soup, or a lentil soup goes a long way towards solving this problem.

Alternatively, buy a vegetable soup and a tin of beans or chickpeas, and add the beans to the soup when you heat it up. Or enjoy your soup with a slice of low GI bread with melted mozzarella cheese, or a couple of chicken strips make a delicious addition to a soup meal.

Although there is a wide range of good, healthy soups available in the fridges at grocery stores, I would still recommend spending a little time over the weekend making your own pot or two of soup. Use the pre-cut packets of veggies to reduce the preparation time. Once made, the soup can be stored in jars in the fridge or freezer, ready for your next meal.

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