Food & Nutrition

Is soup healthy? We compare cans, cartons, & homemade

Despite how simple it is, soup is one of the most popular lunch options in the UK. It's simple, filling, and usually tastes pretty great. But is soup actually healthy? After looking into it, we've realised the answer to this question really depends on what type of soup you eat, let's take a look:

Firstly, let's talk about Canned soup

We'll start by looking at canned soup because most people will tend to buy soup in a can rather than buy their own. The main thing you have to watch out for with canned soup is the high levels of salt, which is true even of the canned soups which are marketed as being healthy. For example, this 400g can of Spicy Parsnip soup from Baxters is listed as being one of your 5 a day and low in fat, which is great. But it also contains 3.04 grams of salt per can, and considering that the NHS recommends no more than 6g of salt per day, it's quite considerable to eat more than 50% of your recommended daily intake of salt from one can of soup.
tin of Baxters soup

What about cartons of fresh soup?

The fresh cartons of soup that you'll spot on supermarket shelves from brands such as Covent Garden are often touted as a healthier alternative to soup from a can, but looking at the labels of some of these cartons of soup we have to admit that they're not as healthy as we thought they'd be. Again, it's the salt content that really makes it hard for us to describe this product as healthy - the carrot & coriander soup from Covent Garden contains 3g of salt per 560g carton, so not quite as much as the tinned soup but still a lot more than you'd probably expect to find in a carton of soup.
It's worth mentioning that these cartons of soup are low in calories and fat, plus many of them count as one of your five a day, which is great to see. But the salt content is just so high that it almost negates the other good nutrition points.
Covent Garden soup

So making your own soup is better for you?

We'd say that yes, generally it is much healthier to make your own soup. The salt content of shop-bought soup is what really makes it hard to recommend as a healthy option, but the great thing about making your own soup is that you can add as much salt as you need for taste and no more than required.

homemade lentil soup

So as you can see, soup definitely can be healthy, but is definitely healthiest when you make it yourself. And if you do decide to eat a shop-bought can or carton of soup, consider eating just half of it rather than the whole thing as the salt levels are very high. Let us know what you think of our article in the comments and if you eat soup regularly!

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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