Canned soups are convenient and as a kid, canned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches was one of my favourite lunches once the nippy cold weather hit.
While I prefer to make homemade soups because I can control the ingredients (see 5 tips to make a hearty and healthy soup), I do buy canned soups from time to time. And I use these tricks to make them healthier:
1. Buy canned soups less often, make homemade soups more often.
That’s a simple way to cut sodium out of our family’s diet right off the bat.
2. Choose lower sodium options.
Skip the sodium claims and go right to the Nutrition Facts Table. Why? Even as a dietitian, I can’t rattle off what those sodium claims stand for. Want a laugh? Actually it’s more sad than funny. See the chart below for all the salt claims. It’s clearly not your fault if you find labels confusing!
- Free of sodium or salt
- Without Salt
- Contains no sodium
- Low in sodium or salt
- Low sodium
- Low source of sodium or salt
- Lightly salted
- Reduced in sodium or salt
- Lower in sodium or salt
- Sodium reduced
- Less salt
- Reduced in salt
- No added sodium or salt
- Without added sodium
- No added salt
What to buy? Aim for 360 mg sodium or less per serving. Broth-based vegetarian soups with beans or lentils tend have less salt (and more fibre) than creamy ones. Kids only need 1000-1500 mg sodium per day.
3. Healthy add-ins:
- Frozen, leftover or fresh quick cooking vegetables like spinach;
- Canned or cooked beans, chickpeas, lentils or peas;
- Leftover whole grains (barley, brown rice, quinoa);
- Bite-size pieces of leftover cooked fish, meat, poultry, or homemade veggie-beef meatballs, or canned salmon or tuna.
4. Use milk instead of water in creamy soups.