By Naturopath Amy Hotz
Few things are as nourishing as a hearty bowl of soup after a long day’s work. While many consider it a winter staple, soup is in fact a great option all year round. Every Sunday in preparation for the week ahead, I create a big batch of broth or soup that I can use as a go-to meal for the week. In an ideal world, we would all be making soup from chicken bones and veggies, but that’s not always realistic. During busy times a healthy packaged soup is the next best thing, so with that in mind, I’ve put together a guide to help you shop for a soup that’s both nutritious and healthy.
When it comes to supermarket shopping, I always encourage my clients to put on their food detective hats. As per the regular GMB shopping advice, I recommend ignoring marketing terms such as ‘low fat’ or ‘sugar free’ and instead take a good hard look at the ingredients and nutritional panel on the label. While it may seem daunting at first; the more you read labels, the easier it becomes.
According to The Heart Foundation, ‘75 percent of our salt intake comes from packaged and processed foods.’ Packaged soups can be one of the largest culprits for high sodium (salt) content. The Heart Foundation recommends adults eat less than 6g of salt (2400 mg of sodium) a day* , so look for packaged soups that have less than 6g salt in a single serving.
Some pre-packaged soups are filled with excessive amounts of refined sugar. Always opt for soups that have less than 5% (or 5gm/ 100gm serve) of sugar, or better yet, have no added sugar at all. Be extra careful with tomato or Thai style soups, as they can be big offenders in the sugar department.
In the world of packaged foods, artificial ingredients seem to be everywhere. Avoid soups filled with artificial flavours, GMO ingredients and preservatives, opting instead for real foods. Keep an eye out for ingredients lists filled with wholefoods including vegetables, proteins, whole grains and water.
Opt for a vegetable or broth based variety over a cream-based soup. These soups are not only more nutritious but also higher in fibre than cream based soups, which can be laden with calories.
Avoid BPA packaged soups. According to Choice, ‘BPA is a toxic chemical that can leach into foods from the lacquer lining of cans and from other food containers and bottles made from certain plastics’* . Most BPA free products will be marked accordingly.
Here are my top 4 picks for healthy packaged soup.
Why: If you’re looking for an alternative to instant Cuppa Soup, the Hart and Soul range gets our vote. This flavoursome soup is preservative, dairy and GMO free and is perfect for enjoying on the go!
Why: I am a huge fan of miso, as it’s perfect for a healthy snack. Miso is made from fermented soy and is both a rich source of probiotics and great for your gut! This miso paste is unpasteurised, which means it has not been heat treated, and therefore it has greater nutritional value than regular miso.
Amy’s Hot Tip: Ensure you do not add the miso paste to boiling water as the heat will destroy the digestive goodness; instead, add to warm drinking water.
Why: A good bone stock broth is my fridge staple and the Undivided Food Co sure do deliver. Rich in immune boosting and gut loving nutrients, this broth makes a base for a healthy lazy dinner. Bring the broth to the boil, throw in your favourite vegetables and even an egg, cook and enjoy.
Why: Cold, starving and time poor? This is a filling dinner that takes no time at all to prepare. The Indian spices warm you up from the inside out, and it’s packed with wholefood ingredients. This soup is also a great vegan option, free from preservatives, additives, dairy and gluten!