Nothing says comfy and cozy quite like a bowl of deliciously hot soup. Whether you’re sick and in bed or just trying to embrace the changing season, soup can deliver bold flavors and plenty of nutrients to both warm you up and nourish your body. And if you’re someone who is trying to save money on groceries or simply doesn’t have the time to make a homemade soup, canned options may come in handy.
Unfortunately, some canned soups contain lower-quality ingredients than others. For example, to preserve their shelf life, many canned soups have enough sodium to surpass your recommended daily value in just one serving, while others may be high in saturated fat or contain unwanted preservatives.
Read on for our dietitian-recommended list of canned soups with the lowest-quality ingredients to avoid. And for more helpful grocery tips, make sure to check out 10 Ice Cream Brands with the Lowest Quality Ingredients.
Most canned chowders are flavorful and very creamy, which can be delicious on a cold winter day, but many of these are also packed full of fat and sodium.
“This particular soup isn’t necessarily marketing itself as healthy, but there may be a misconception that because it is made with chicken that there is an element of health,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. “Unfortunately this is not the case because this soup is 390 calories for the can, along with 14 grams of fat, 1,800 milligrams of sodium, and 12 grams of sugar. When it comes to ingredients and nutrients, this Progresso Chicken Corn Chowder is one of the lower-quality options on the market. The base of this soup is made with refined carbohydrates, oils, and additives for added taste and texture.”
Some canned soup options market themselves as being full of meat and veggies, but Best warns that this isn’t always the case.
“When it comes to quality, this beef stew is almost devoid of beef. Instead, what is present is chopped-up flakes of beef. The other ingredients have gotten less attention in terms of quality over the years with mushy potatoes that take up most of the stew and underwhelming carrots that are barely present,” says Best.
Quite possibly the most popular canned soup out there, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup is a classic that you may want to leave on shelves.
“This chicken noodle soup is a go-to for most consumers looking for a soothing soup during sickness or just to curb a soup craving,” says Best, “but unfortunately, the quality of ingredients and nutrients of this soup makes it one to avoid if possible. The heavy amounts of monosodium glutamate (MSG) wreak havoc on your gut health [when consumed in excess in your diet], according to a study from PLoS One. While I certainly believe MSG has a place in the food industry, it’s often used in too large of quantities.”
Campbell’s also sells soups that are supposed to be geared toward kids, but Best warns that just because it’s marketed for kids doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them.
“One of the worst foods, in my opinion, are those that market themselves under the guise of being healthy and safe, but actually are not. This is the case for Campbell’s Chicken and Stars. This soup is made with refined carbohydrates that may contribute to inflammation and wreak havoc on gut health,” says Best. “Also, the sodium in a serving size (790 milligrams in just a 1/2 cup) is a quarter of the recommended daily value for this nutrient, which is dangerous for anyone, but certainly the children it is being marketed for.”
According to Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, a registered dietitian and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our medical expert advisory board, the Campbell’s Homestyle New England Clam Chowder is worth skipping over on grocery store shelves. “This soup contains nearly a days worth of sodium and is also high in fat,” says Young. In fact, there are 890 milligrams of sodium and 10 grams of fat in just one cup.