Soups are often viewed as one of the healthiest winter foods - and sometimes they actually are. But many canned soups contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), and soups can be very high in sodium and fat: A cup of soup might contain a third of the recommended daily value of sodium, and a cup of creamed soup might have more than a tablespoon of fat.
Fortunately, many prepared soups come in low-sodium versions, and some flavors contain very little or no fat. Stews, or thick soups with large chunks of meat and vegetables, are high in vitamins and protein. Carrot and pumpkin soups are high in vitamin A. Tomato soup is a good source of vitamin C, with some A. If you have any dietary restrictions, read labels on canned soups carefully.
The best way to control the ingredients is to make soup yourself. Nutritious soups can be very simple to make. They just require a broth or other liquid and your favorite meats, seafood, or vegetables. Hot soups make a great lunch or healthy snack. Add a sandwich, and you have supper.
2 1/2 cups skim milk
6 ounces cooked shrimp (such as a package of frozen shrimp)
Heat milk over low heat. When the milk is hot, add shrimp and continue heating, stirring often, until it regains its heat. Be careful not to let it come to a boil -- the milk may scorch. Add a few drops of hot sauce if desired. Serves 3-4.
Black Bean Soup
15-oz. can black beans
3/4 cup water or tomato juice
Garnish - no-fat sour cream, chopped Vidalia (or other sweet) onions, salsa
Heat beans and water/juice in microwave until very hot. Serve in bowls. Drop a large spoonful of no-fat sour cream in the middle, sprinkle minced onion on top, and finish with a small spoonful of salsa. Some people enjoy this served over white rice.
Lima Bean Soup
10-oz. package frozen lima beans, either baby limas or larger
1/4 cup chopped lean ham (crumbled fried bacon is a higher-fat alternative)
1 cup water
Combine all ingredients. Heat to boiling, then simmer until lima beans are very soft. Serves 3-4.
10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach
2 cups skim milk
4 ounces grated parmesan cheese (Freshly grated cheese is best; sharp cheddar, Swiss, and other cheeses work fine, too. You can also use fat-free cheese.
Cook spinach just until soft. Add milk. Cook, stirring constantly until hot. (Do not boil.) Serve in bowl with cheese sprinkled on top. (Microwave for a few minutes if cheese doesn't melt.)
(This can be served hot or cold as a dessert)
8-oz bag of dried fruit (prunes, apricots, apples, pears, etcetera)
3 cups of water
Dash of ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks
Optional - brown sugar to taste
Boil water and add dried fruits. Simmer until fruit is soft. Add more water, a little at a time if needed. When fruit has cooked, remove from heat. Taste and, if desired, add a little dark brown sugar to sweeten. Serve in small bowls, garnished with a cinnamon stick or dash of cinnamon.