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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 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 more than half of your entire day’s value of sodium (2,300 milligrams), while others may be high in saturated fat or contain unwanted preservatives like sodium nitrite and sodium phosphate.
It doesn’t mean that you have to avoid these canned soups altogether, especially because they are an easy, affordable way to throw together a quick meal. Just make sure you’re reading the nutrition labels before throwing them in your shopping cart.
Read on for our list of canned soups with the lowest-quality ingredients that registered dietitians say you may want to skip over next time you’re craving a warm bowl of soup. And for more on what you should be buying, don’t miss 7 Canned Soups With the Highest Quality Ingredients.
Per 1 cup: 180 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 7 g protein
When looking for a hearty but healthy soup, you may want to skip Campbell’s Pub-Style Chicken Pot Pie Soup. The saturated fat content is decently low, but with 790 milligrams of sodium per cup, it can be considered a high-sodium food. Not to mention how easy it is to eat the whole can instead of just one cup.
“This soup also contains enriched wheat flour, which is a refined and less nutritious form of wheat flour, lacking the fiber and nutrients found in whole wheat,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD with Balance One Supplements. “Additionally, such canned soups often contain artificial additives, a high sodium content, and limited real vegetables or meat, resulting in a less nutritious and flavorful product.”
She adds “In general, these factors contribute to a perception of low quality in terms of both nutrition and taste.”
Per 1 cup: 120 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 6 g protein
Best also puts Campbell’s Steak and Potato Soup on our list of soups with the lowest-quality ingredients. For starters, “Such canned soups frequently contain excessive sodium, artificial additives, and preservatives, compromising both nutrition and taste,” says Best. In fact, just one cup of this steak and potato soup consists of 790 milligrams of sodium, and it’s way too easy to consume more than a serving in one sitting.
This soup also uses the additive sodium phosphate, which is commonly found in canned soups and processed meats like bacon. Some research has unfortunately found that consuming higher levels of sodium phosphates may be linked to accelerated aging and vascular damage.
Per 1 cup: 160 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 5 g protein
Most people love a creamy broccoli and cheese soup, but if that’s what you’re craving, you may want to skip the Progresso Traditional Broccoli Cheese Canned Soup.
Like the other soups on our list, this broccoli and cheese option is high in sodium. In one serving you’re getting about 34% of your daily value of sodium, but the entire can contains 1,580 milligrams of sodium—almost 70% of your daily value.
Like the Campbell’s Steak and Potato Soup, this one also contains sodium phosphates, which may be an ingredient you want to avoid consuming on a regular basis because of the potential health risks we previously noted.
Per 1 cup: 190 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 4 g protein
The Baked Potato with Cheddar and Bacon Bits Soup from Campbell’s “may not be a healthy choice for canned soup, despite the advertised 10 grams of protein,” says Best.
Not only does it carry 70% of your daily value of sodium in the entire can, but it also contains the additives sodium phosphate and sodium nitrite. We noted earlier that sodium phosphate has been linked to potential health complications, and the same can be said about sodium nitrite
High amounts of this preservative, which is also commonly found in bacon products, have been linked to the development of certain cancers like colorectal, breast, and prostate.
Per 1 cup: 190 calories, 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 850 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 7 g protein
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, as well as additives like sodium phosphate and sodium nitrite.
“This particular soup isn’t necessarily marketing itself as healthy, but there may be a misconception that because it is made with chicken there is an element of health,” says Best. “Unfortunately this is not the case because this soup is 390 calories for the whole can, along with 14 grams of fat, 1,800 milligrams of sodium, and 12 grams of sugar. Regarding 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.”
Per 1 cup: 200 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 990 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 10 g protein
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.
Per 1/2 cup: 60 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 890 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 3 g protein
Quite possibly the most popular canned soup out there, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup is a classic that you may want to leave on the shelf.
“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.”
Not only that but in just a 1/2 cup serving, you’ll get 890 milligrams of sodium, which is almost 40% of your daily value.
Per 1/2 cup: 70 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein
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. […] The sodium in a 1/2-cup serving size (790 milligrams) 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.”
Per 1 cup: 170 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 890 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 5 g protein
According to Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, Campbell’s Homestyle New England Clam Chowder is worth skipping over on grocery store shelves. This mainly has to do with the fact that there are 890 milligrams of sodium in one cup, which is over 38% of your daily value—that’s high for just a serving of soup.
Per 1 container: 240 calories, 14 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 990 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 9 g protein
Although technically not in a can, this to-go soup option from Panera can now be found at most grocery stores. However, “This soup is high in calories, fat, and saturated fat so I’d skip it,” says Young.
In one container you’ll get 14 grams of fat and 9 grams of saturated fat, as well as 990 milligrams of sodium.
A previous version of this article was published in September 2022. It has since been updated to include additional entries.