Chicken noodle soup in a bowl

To steal a line from Campbell’s, soup is good food—but homemade soup is the best. Consumer Reports’ test kitchen team created three simple homemade soup recipes. Sure, canned soup is more convenient, but you might want to make your own for a few health reasons:

• You can control the salt. Soup is the fifth-largest source of sodium in the American diet. In just 1 cup, you can easily get about a third or more of the 2,300 mg maximum you should have in a day. For example, Campbell’s Homestyle Country-Style Chicken Noodle has 790 mg, Pacific Traditional Clam Chowder has 760 mg, and Progresso Lentil has 810 mg. If you’re buying canned soup, look for low-, lower-, or reduced-sodium varieties.

More Healthy Recipes

• Some canned soups have added sugars. Check ingredients lists for cane sugarevaporated cane juice, honey, or other forms of sugars. Sugars are usually added to “sweeter” soups, such as butternut squash, pumpkin, and tomato. Because those vegetables have natural sugars—and may contain cream, which also has natural sugars—it’s difficult to suss out how much of the sugars are added. And the sugars count varies. Amy’s Organic Light in Sodium Cream of Tomato Soup contains organic cane sugar and cream, and has 15 grams of sugars per cup. Imagine Organic Light in Sodium Garden Tomato Creamy Soup has evaporated cane syrup (but no cream) and has 9 grams of sugars per cup. 

• Cans may be lined with BPA. Bisphenol A is a compound that may be found in the epoxy-based materials that line the inside of cans. It can leech into the foods, and studies have linked BPA exposure to reproductive abnormalities and a heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. Some companies promote their cans as BPA-free, or you can buy soups and broths packaged in cartons.

Though it may not be as easy as opening a can, you can make homemade soup more convenient by cooking up a big batch and freezing it. Try these healthy homemade soup recipes to get you started. 

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 chicken breast half, with skin (about ¾ pound)
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
½ cup finely diced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon marjoram
⅛ teaspoon thyme
Pinch of black pepper
3 ounces (about 2 cups) cooked wide egg noodles

Directions
1.
 Place chicken, skin side down, in preheated 4-quart sauce pan. Brown over medium heat for about 5 minutes to render some of the chicken fat.

2. Remove chicken and reduce heat to low. Add shallots and stir briefly (1 to 2 minutes); do not brown.

3. Return chicken to the pan and add remaining ingredients, except noodles. Bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken and let cool. Discard bones and skin.

5. Dice chicken meat and return to pan. Add cooked noodles. Serve or refrigerate. (Bring refrigerated soup to a boil before serving.)

Makes eight 1-cup servings.

Nutrition information: One serving contains 100 calories, 1.5 g fat, 460 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugars, and 11 g protein.

Note: You can modify this recipe by adding onions instead of shallots, or whole grains or your favorite pasta in place of the egg noodles. Though carrots and celery are traditional in chicken noodle soup, you can include any vegetable you like in addition to or in place of them.


Lentil and Spinach Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups lentils
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 sprig (2 to 3 inches) fresh rosemary
1 package (7 ounces) baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions
1.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add lentils, broth, water, and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Add spinach and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove rosemary stem. Stir in pepper. Serve or refrigerate. (Bring refrigerated soup to a boil before serving.)

Makes about ten 1-cup servings.

Nutrition information: One serving contains 170 calories, 3.5 g fat, 180 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 3 g sugars, and 9 g protein.


Onion-Leek Soup

2 tablespoons butter
5 cups sliced onions (about 2 large)
2 cups sliced leeks (about 1 bunch)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 sprigs each thyme and parsley plus 2 bay leaves, tied together with string
1 cup white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
2 teaspoons flour
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Directions
1.
Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and leeks. Cook, stirring frequently, until they’re soft and turn a dark straw color, about 30 minutes.

2. Add ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper, and the flour. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add wine, increase heat to medium-high, stirring and scraping to loosen bits on the bottom, until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5 to 8 minutes.

4. Add broth and herb bundle. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove herb bundle, then add remaining salt and pepper. Serve or refrigerate. (Bring refrigerated soup to a boil before serving.)  

Makes about ten 1-cup servings.

Nutrition information: One serving contains 90 calories, 3.5 g fat, 180 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugars, and 4 g protein.

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