Restorative and flavorful, soup is a near-perfect meal on rainy April days. And warm spring weather also means that light, bright ingredients -- herbs, spring vegetables, even lemon juice -- can be thrown into the kettle.
Homemade soups tend to taste better than store-bought ones; their fresh ingredients are robust with distinct flavors. Soup you make yourself may also be better for you. "The biggest thing is the difference in sodium," says Stephanie Nardiello, a clinical dietitian at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Nutrition guidelines recommend limiting sodium to 2,400 milligrams a day, or about one teaspoon, because of its close association with high blood pressure. Many canned soups on the market can bring you close to or even exceed that limit in one meal.
The soups on these pages are low not just in sodium, but also calories and fat. Good-for-you soups don't have to be austere. Greek avgolemono, a lemony chicken soup made with eggs, has a blissfully creamy texture. We used pesto as an herb-and-cheese finish for vegetable and bean soup. Garlic plus sorrel add up to a vegetarian dish that's powerfully flavored. The elements of Vietnamese pho (noodles, beef, herbs, and lime juice) happen to be delectable. Each soup, you'll find, is a square meal -- that fits in a round bowl.
Ladle of Flavor
This rendition of soupe au pistou -- a French vegetable soup served with pesto -- features a rainbow of produce and protein-and folate-rich dried beans.
Do You Know?
Soup is an excellent way to work additional portions of nutritious foods, such as beans, vegetables, and lean meats, into your diet.