It's hard to top a homemade bowl of soup, but for a quick meal cooking a batch of soup isn't usually practical. The only quick options have been canned soups which pale in comparison to homemade -- until we checked the frozen food aisles. While there aren't many to choose from, and even less that meet our nutrition standards, the frozen soups we did find were definitely winners. All were hearty with a homemade flavor and freshness that canned versions just don't have.
Taste Test Winners:
Hearty and comforting thanks to potatoes, corn, and cream, this chowder seems too decadent to be healthy, but the sodium and saturated fat (albeit close) fall within our strict nutrition guidelines. We love that this soup comes in a single-serving bowl to go from microwave to table. Pair with a green salad or fresh fruit. $3.99, vegetarian, gluten-free
Calories 230; Fat 11g (sat 6g); Protein 4g; Carb 28g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 7g; Chol 35mg; Iron 2mg; Sodium 650mg; Calc 60mg
If you're a split pea fan, then you'll love this thick, creamy version of the earthy soup that has 13g of both fiber and protein. Its savory flavor comes from minimal ingredients - peas, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and spices. Even though it's high in fiber and protein, a bowl has only 140 calories which won't hold through the afternoon, so pair with a grilled cheese or quesadilla, salad, or fruit. $2.50, vegan, gluten-free
Calories 140; Fat 0g (sat 0g); Protein 13g; Carb 34g; Fiber 13g; Sugars 0g; Chol 0mg; Iron 3mg; Sodium 530mg; Calc 20mg
Seasoned with tomatoes, mirepoix, bell peppers, and spices, the end result is a comforting bowl with just a touch of spicy heat that tastes like it's been cooking for hours. The pureed beans give the soup a creamy base, and the beans left whole add nice texture. Top with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of chopped green onions, or a dash of hot sauce to amp up the flavor. $2.50, vegan, gluten-free
Calories 220; Fat 2.5g (sat 0g); Protein 13g; Carb 39g; Fiber 9g; Sugars 2g; Chol 0mg; Iron 3mg; Sodium 430mg; Calc 80mg
Things to looks for:
- Sodium: Soups are notoriously high in sodium, so check this nutrient first. Aim for a soup serving that has 650mg of sodium or less.
- Protein: Look for an entree soup that provides 10g or more of protein, a key nutrient for keeping you full and feeling satisfied.
- Calories and Serving Size: Some soups are pretty low in calories to serve as a complete meal. If your bowl is 250 or less, pair with whole grain crackers, a side salad, veggies and hummus, fruit, or Greek yogurt to round out the meal and keep you full.
How We Tested
Only frozen foods that met Cooking Light’s nutrition guidelines were tested. Products were eliminated based on the following: lack of calorie and/or protein adequacy, lack of whole grains, presence of trans fat or hydrogenation, presence of significant added sugars, and presence of artificial coloring or sweeteners. All frozen foods were cooked according to package directions and taste tested by a panel of Cooking Light editors and staff. To ensure consistency, Breville microwaves were used to cook all foods.