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The Problem with Canned Soup

Some of us are experiencing a brutal winter with snow and bone-seeping cold that does not seem to be letting up. Soup is a great way to warm up; it can also be a nutritious meal. There is nothing quite like homemade soup, but many people prefer to settle for ready-made. The food industry has known this for decades, hence prepared soups are a billion-dollar industry.

There are several problems with prepared soups. The most obvious is that they simply don't taste as good as home made. Of course, if you don't know how to make your own soup, this is a non-issue.

Another problem is the use of lower quality ingredients than you would use at home, for example meat scraps that would never be sold in a supermarket. Additionally, some of the ingredients used would never be found in your home kitchen. Here is an example ingredient list, for Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup:

Chicken Stock, Cooked Enriched Egg Noodles with Added Calcium (Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate (In excess of standard), Eggs, Egg Whites, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Cooked Chicken Meat, Contains Less than 2% of: Salt, Cooked Mechanically Separated Chicken, Vegetable Oil, Potato Starch, Chicken Fat, Monosodium Glutamate, Onion Powder, Yeast Extract, Modified Food Starch, Spice Extract, Beta Carotene, Soy Protein Isolate, Sodium Phosphates, Chicken Flavor (Contains Chicken Stock, Chicken Powder, Chicken Fat), Dehydrated Garlic.

Lastly, one of the biggest problems with prepared soups is their extremely high sodium content. America has a long standing love affair with salt, and consumes almost twice as much as the 2300 milligram daily limit. Excessive salt intake contributes to hypertension and heart disease. A single serving of the chicken soup above has 890mg of sodium, 39% of the maximum recommended daily intake Like all liquids, people often consume more than one serving at a time, exacerbating the sodium issue.

Bottom Line

If you love soup, consider preparing your own soup at home. You will know exactly what ingredients go in, and will be able to control just how much salt is added.

Supermarket tips

If you do decide to buy pr

epared soups, keep in mind the following:

  • The serving size should make sense (one cup). Often manufactures suggest a tiny serving to make it seem like the calories and sodium content are low.

  • Read the ingredient list to make sure you aren't getting more than you bargained for, for example MSG.

  • Last but not least, choose soup with less than 600mg of sodium per serving, ideally less than 450mg.

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