What’s the Best Soup to Order?

There are few foods that sum up “comfort food” as well as soup.  Soup can be a hearty, healthy and flavorful solution for a quick weeknight meal or leisurely weekend indulgence throughout the year. If you’re craving a steamy and comforting bowl of soup, follow these dietitian tips to order the best soup and stay on track with your health goals:

Vegetables – Soups can transform vegetables.  The flavors of the celery, tomatoes, carrots, kale and any other vegetables you or the chef may add to the pot are developed and melded into a rich and satisfying meal that even the most adamant vegetable-opponent can relish with abandon.  Most restaurants offer a hearty vegetable soup option to warm you up and enable you to stay on track with any diet.  At home, soup is a perfect meal to use up the lost and lonely vegetables heading past their prime in the crisper.  The more you incorporate, the more vitamins, minerals and flavor you can be sure you’re enjoying in every spoonful.

Whole grains – Soup can be a complete and satisfying meal all by itself, especially when whole grains are in the recipe.  When dining out, look for traditional favorites like beef and barley or chicken and brown rice. At home, try whole wheat noodles to add a new depth of taste and nutrition to chicken noodle. Brown rice can add texture to vegetable soup, and barley isn’t the only grain that can pair well with beef. Is bread your must-have soup side? Many restaurants now offer a whole grain option to add extra fiber and nutrition.

Creamy vs. broth soups – Choose broth bases over cream at restaurants and at home to help cut calories and fat. However, everything can be enjoyed in moderation.  If a creamy soup is your choice, order a smaller portion and pair with a nutrient dense and lower calorie side like steamed vegetables or a salad. At home, experiment with using ingredients like low- or non-fat milk and cheese, evaporated skim milk or plain yogurt in place of full fat cream, milk and cheese.

What’s your favorite soup?  How do you order the best soup at restaurants to cure your comfort food craving without doing in your diet?