Nothing satisfies like a bowl of soup, especially when it’s cold outside. January is National Soup Month, but you can enjoy soup any time of the year as both a comfort food and a nutritious meal. Plus, a little creativity in the kitchen can make soup a budget-friendly staple in your family meal planning.
Below, I’ll outline some important tips for choosing healthier soups and provide a recipe for one of my favorite soups: Asian chicken and rice.
Tips and Tricks for Choosing and Making Healthier Soups
Soups often have high sodium, high calories, and a lot of fat. Being aware of these common nutritional problems can help you make smart soup decisions.
Here are some tips and tricks for choosing and making healthier soups:
- Choose Broth-Based Soups
Broth-based soups are often lower in fat and calories. They are also more likely to contain veggies. If you’re preparing a broth-based soup at home, start with low-sodium broths or bouillon cubes.
If you have a real craving for a cream-based soup, try using evaporated milk instead of cream to lower the total fat and calories.
- Add Your Favorite Protein
You can turn a bowl of soup into a meal by adding protein. Cooked chunks of chicken, beef, pork, or seafood will add flavor and nutrition. Also, don't forget plant-based proteins such as lentils and beans. Lentils and beans contain protein and fiber, which promotes heart and gut health.
And if you happen to be celebrating National Soup Month, January 6 is also National Bean Day!
- Get Your Daily Dose of Vegetables
Soup is a great way to get more greens into your diet. Add plenty of your favorite veggies to soup; it will boost nutrition while also adding flavor! Remember, more fruits and veggies matter!
- Add Whole Grains or Use Them as a Side
You can also add whole grains such as rice or quinoa to your soup or serve it with a whole grain roll or breadstick to add nutrition benefits. Just make sure to skip the bread bowl.
One of the Best Healthy Soups: Asian Chicken and Rice Soup
My favorite nutritious, flavorful soup is Asian chicken and rice. Below is a soup recipe from an Our Family contest.
Start with These Healthy Soup Ingredients:
- ¾ lb. Open Acres chicken breast
- 7 cups Our Family reduced sodium chicken stock
- 3 shallots, halved
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- One 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin, matchstick-sized pieces
- ¾ cup Our Family brown rice
- Juice of 1 lime (or 2 tablespoons lime juice)
- 1 tablespoon Our Family reduced sodium soy sauce
- One 4-oz. can Our Family diced chilies
- 2 scallions
- 3 tablespoons Our Family Spanish peanuts
Directions for Maximum Nutrition
- Combine sugar and 1/2 cup hot water. When the sugar is fully dissolved, add the ginger. Let this cool for at least 15 minutes.
- Bring chicken, stock, shallots, and garlic to a boil in a medium stock pot. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, approximately 20 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Discard the shallots and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Shred the chicken once it cools.
- Bring stock mixture back to a boil and add rice. Reduce heat and simmer. Stir regularly until the rice is tender (approximately 25-30 minutes).
- Add shredded chicken, lime juice and soy sauce back to stock pot once the rice has cooked. Optionally add salt, pepper, or more soy sauce per your preferences.
- Lastly, you can prepare the soup toppers. Remove ginger from the sugar water and place it in a small dish. Chop scallions finely and place them a small dish. Open the can of chilies and place them in a small dish. Using a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin, crush the Spanish peanuts and place them in a small dish. Place all your options out on the table so diners can customize their soup to their liking.
Visit Our Stores for All Your Healthy Soup and Meal Needs
Whether you’re celebrating National Soup Month, trying to fend off the cold, or simply looking for a great everyday meal option, be sure to fill up on soup and good nutrition!
You can get all the healthy ingredients you need for the perfect soup in our stores, and be sure to check our weekly ad for great deals on your favorite proteins, veggies, and whole grains!
Stephanie Edson - Regional Wellness Specialist
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.