Diet Detours: Soup and calories

February 10, 2014

On a cold blustery day nothing makes you feel better than a warm cup of soup. But registered dietitian Emma Fogt says although lots of soups are healthy, there are some traps you can fall into

Emma tells us, "Choosing a soup has everything to do about reading the label."

She says besides calories check out how much fat and salt is in each cup. With soup you can really go over your limit with sodium.

Emma explains, "Some servings of soup give you your whole day [worth of salt] just in one cup."

First up, the clam chowder challenge: Manhattan versus New England.

A cup of the Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder loaded with cream packs 180 calories and 10 grams of fat. Instead enjoy a cup Campbell's Chunky Manhattan Clam Chowder and save 60 calories.

Next up is a restaurant staple: broccoli and cheese soup.

We ordered cups of the cheesy soup from both Subway and Potbelly, and what Emma found was surprising.

"The Potbelly had a lot more calories and twice the fat."

With 233 calories and 16 grams of fat, Potbelly steers itself into the detour zone. Instead, have a lighter version from Subway and save nearly 50 calories and 9 grams of fat!

Now on to tomato soup, which is a fan favorite on a cold snowy day.

But before you grab a can, Emma says check the label.

"They both have tomato. They both have a little sugar," Emma explains.

But a can of Progresso Tomato Basil packs 40 additional calories per cup, and contains a little bit of oil and corn syrup, making it the diet detour.

Instead Emma gives the green light to Campbell's Homestyle Harvest Tomato with Basil. She says overall tomato soup is healthier than most soups, including our next match-up - Chicken Noodle.

Emma tells us, "I think it seems pretty harmless - it is broth based, it has vegetables, it has protein."

But if you're watching your salt, beware!

When comparing an 8 ounce cup of Corner Bakery cup of Chicken Noodle versus a 12 ounce Panara Bread cup, it turns out both serve up close to your daily limit of sodium.

Emma says, "In fact they're hitting up to 1,400 to 1,600 milligrams."

Because of that they both hit the detour zone.

Now on to tortilla soup, which is becoming much more popular.

The matchup: Campbell's Homestyle Mexican Style Chicken Tortilla and Progresso Traditional Chicken Tortilla.

If you are looking for a zesty kick without too many calories, look at the ingredients.

The Campbell's soup can says "healthy request," but is this the healthier option? As it turns out, the Progresso is actually lower in calories.

We also found a take-out version of tortilla soup at Qdoba, and it gets the green light.

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Here's some recipes you can try at home:

Tyler Florence's Chicken Noodle Soup:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock,
8 ounces cooked elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked noodles and simmer for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Modified from:

How would you modify this recipe?

"Some sirachi sauce for spice, escarole and barley instead of egg noodles." from (Stacey Leone Worton (1/28/14)

"Parsnips, ribboned Swiss chard, swap out the noodles, and if you wanted to add some creaminess... Cauliflower or new potatoes." from Jessica Corwin (1/28/14)


2 pounds asparagus?(frozen or fresh- chopped)
1 yellow onion? (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic?(minced)
2 small russet potatoes (chopped)
2 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
2 dashes of TobascoTM sauce

Chop the asparagus (reserve about half of the tips), onion, garlic and potato (peel and wash potatoes first or scrub with a designated vegetable brush if using potato with peel). In a medium pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until just softened (2-3 minutes). Add in the garlic, asparagus and potato. Cook until the asparagus begins to turn bright green (3-4 minutes). Season with salt and pepper and then pour in the broth. Add Tobasco sauce. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes can be easily sliced through with a knife. Once cooled down- use the immersion blender, blender or Vitamix to blend everything up. In a small pot filled with 2-3 cups water blanch the reserved asparagus heads until bright green and cooked through but still crunchy.

Drain and reserve.

To serve garnish with the cooked asparagus heads. Option you can add a dollop of light sour cream or even Greek Yogurt to garnish as well.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED Vegetable scrubber, knives, chopping board, garlic press (optional), soup pot, wooden spoon, blender, strainer for asparagus tips.

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