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Your guide to store-bought soup

Nothing is easier than a quick can or pouch of soup from the local store. HFG dietitian Melissa Meier helps you scoop the best.

Have you noticed the growing number of soups in supermarkets these days? From long-life cans and sachets, to fridge-fresh tubs and pouches, we’re spoiled for choice! However, some options are a little lacklustre in terms of nutrition — high in sodium, kilojoules and fat, and low in hunger-busting fibre. Our dietitian shows you easy ways to make the healthiest choices.

1 Canned vs fresh

Instant soup sachets that you add hot water to are usually high in sodium and made with lots of salt, powders and additives. Because they lack whole foods and bulk, they tend to skip protein and fibre, which means you won’t stay full for long. These varieties are usually best left on the shelf — or you could search for a reduced-salt version to sip on as a light winter snack.

Canned soups can provide a convenient desk drawer or pantry choice as they do not require refrigeration — but they can also be high in sodium. Plus, large ‘man-style’ cans of soups are usually meant to be shared between at least two people, so it’s easy to consume excess salt and kilojoules without realising. To keep portions in check, look for less than 400kJ (95cal) per 100g, and consider bulking your portion up with added veg.

Chilled pouches and tubs are becoming more popular, and for good reason. They’re most like what you would make at home, and they tend to be lower in sodium, thickeners and additives. But beware of the coconut- or cream-based varieties, as they can be high in saturated fat.

2 Make a meal of it

Vegetable-based soups, like tomato or mushroom, can leave you feeling unsatisfied as they lack carbohydrates and protein. For a filling, balanced meal, make sure you choose a chunky-style soup that offers a combination of meat, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans), and whole grains.

3 Watch the sides!

A huge dollop of sour cream and a thick slice of buttery white bread as a side can add over 1000kJ (240cal) and 10g of saturated fat to your healthy soup meal. Instead, opt for a slice of wholegrain bread with a quarter of an avocado, and swap sour cream for plain reduced-fat yoghurt.

Shop like a dietitian

Here’s what to look for on the back of the pack:

✓ At least 50% vegies or legumes
✓ More than 5g fibre per serve
✓ Less than 3g saturated fat per serve
✓ Less than 700mg sodium per serve

Date modified: 25 April 2023
First published: April 2023


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