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20 Best and Worst Chicken Soups

By Dana Leigh Smith

Sure, they all contain carbs, veggies, protein, and broth, but canned chicken soups can range from nourishing to straight up scary…

Whether it's a winter evening spent by the fire or a sick day on the couch, chicken soup seems to be everyone's ally once the weather turns cold. And believe it or not, there's even research that backs up this observation. According to a recent national analysis from GrubHub (an online food ordering service) and ZocDoc (a service that helps patients find and book doctors appointments online), when cold- and flu-related appointments increase, there's also an uptick in soup orders—especially the chicken-based varieties. And since research suggests that chicken soup can be particularly effective at providing relief from these types of illnesses, it makes a lot of sense.

But not all canned chicken soups have the same nourishing effects as the homemade varieties. Many of them actually have far too much sodium and fat to be considered healthy. Then there are the cans that are riddled with creepy ingredients that will do the opposite of benefiting your health. To help you identify the allies from the bad guys, we've scoured the supermarkets for the best and worst options available. We even have a section filled with some B-team picks, just in case you have trouble tracking down the winning cans.

But before you rush off the market to stock up, know this: Cans are okay in a pinch, but making soup from scratch will almost always be the healthiest option. So, for those times when you're feeling up cooking, be sure to give these delicious and healthy soup recipes a try. They're some of our favorites!

FIRST, THE WORST


Campbell's Chunky Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Nutrition: 210 calories, 13 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 790 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 7 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Soy Protein Isolate

After chicken stock, cream is the next ingredient listed on this soup's ingredient panel. That said, it's not exactly a surprise that it contains 40 percent of the day's saturated fat intake in a small, one-cup serving. Paired with the fact that Campbell's also manages to pack a staggering 790 milligrams of sodium into a single bowl (and what you'd find in five servings of Lay's chips), it's easy to see why we consider this to be a Not That!

Progresso Chicken& Homestyle Noodles

Nutrition: 1 cup, 100 calories, 2 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 690 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 7 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Soy Protein Isolate, Sodium Phosphate, Chicken Skin

While the calories and fat content aren't concerning to us, we don't love the high sodium and low fiber content. We're also not fans of the soy protein isolate. The reason: "The process of chemically engineering soybeans to isolate their protein strips out all of their other healthy nutrients and leaves behind potentially dangerous substances like hexane and aluminum," explains Stephanie Middleberg, RD, founder of Middleberg Nutrition. For more scary ingredients you don't want to see in your food, don't miss our report on the 23 Worst Food Additives in America.

Wolfgang Puck Organic Soup Free Range Chicken Noodle

Nutrition: 1 cup, 90 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 860 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 5 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

It may be free of icky ingredients and make with nutritious free-range chicken, but we can't ignore the fact this soup contains 36 percent of the day's sodium in a single serving. There are better options on supermarket shelves.

Progresso Chicken Tuscany

Nutrition: 1 cup, 110 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 690 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 8 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Soy Protein Isolate, Sodium Phosphate, Calcium Chloride

This Progresso soup is made with sodium phosphate, an additive made of sodium and phosphate that's used to keep meats juicy and tender during storage. Even though phosphates are necessary for our diets, the inorganic phosphates that are added to food have been linked to higher rates of chronic kidney disease, weak bones, and premature death. That doesn't sound like a soup you'd want to slurp, does it? Speaking of scary stuff, find out the 150 Worst Packaged Foods in America!

Campbell's Chicken Noodle Condensed Soup

Nutrition: 1 cup, 90 calories, 2.5 g fat, ,0.5 g saturated fat, 790 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 6 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Sodium Phosphate

It may be low-cal, but this soup is a dangerous pot. Not only will its crazy high salt content cause your belly to balloon, its MSG will leave you feeling ravenous. MSG has also been shown to make food taste more appetizing, which increases the desire to eat and eat and eat. To make matters worse, it also blocks the "I'm full" hormone from communicating with the brain and instead tells your body to pump out insulin, the fat-storage hormone—not good news for those looking to melt their belly fat.

Campbell's Chunky Soup Creamy Chicken and Dumplings Soup

Nutrition: 160 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 890 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 6 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Soy Protein Isolate

Overflowing with MSG, sodium phosphate and soy protein isolate, this salty stock doesn't deserve a place in your shopping cart. You should know by now that the word "creamy" is also a red flag; we do have a better-for-you suggestion below, though, so keep going!

Swanson Chicken Broth

Nutrition: 1 cup, 10 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 860 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

This homemade soup-starter is packed with salt and offers very little protein. You'd be better off buying a collagen- and protein-rich bone broth.

NOW, THE BEST!


Health Valley Organic Soup No Salt Added Chicken Noodle

Nutrition: 1 cup, 80 calories, 2.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 135 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 5 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

Water, carrots, celery and chicken make up the bulk of this can, making it a no-brainer Eat This! If you're not used to slurping something with so little salt, amp up the flavor with a sprinkle of salt and other spices from your rack. Even if you're a bit heavy-handed, you're bound to take in less sodium than if you had heated up some of the Not Thats! from this list.

Buy it here!

Campbell's Organic Chicken&Stars Soup

Nutrition: 80 calories, 2 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 590 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 4 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

If you've been having trouble getting your little one to eat his or her veggies, this is the perfect solution. It's far lower in salt than other kid's picks and it's packed with wholesome ingredients like carrots, peas and turmeric, a spice that's been shown to boost memory boost and focus.

Buy it here!

Imagine Natural Creations Organic Chicken Corn Tortilla Soup

Nutrition: 1 cup, 130 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 480 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 7 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

Organic tomatoes, corn, beans, red pepper, and chicken join together to create this protein-rich soup.

Buy it here!

Health Valley Organic Soup Cream of Chicken

Nutrition: 1 cup, 110 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 480 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 6 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

A creamy soup with only three grams of fat and an ingredient list that we can actually pronounce?! Sign us up!

Buy it here!

Pacific Organic Chicken Noodle Soup Reduced Sodium

Nutrition: 1 cup, 90 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 sugar, 5 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

This soup is low in calories and sodium, but overflowing with flavor. Since the fiber content is a bit on the lower side, we suggest pairing your soothing bowl with a small spinach salad topped with beans and veggies. And if you have time, why not drizzle it with a homemade dressing? These 12 Tips to Make Healthy Salad Dressings can help you elevate your green topper to the next level.

Buy it here!

Health Valley Organic No Salt Added Soup Chicken Rice

Nutrition: 1 cup, 110 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 120 mg sodium 14 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 5 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

A single serving of this low-sodium soup provides 20 percent of the day's vitamin A, a nutrient that can ward off age-related macular degeneration.

Buy it here!

Pacific Organic Chicken Bone Broth

Nutrition: 1 cup, 35 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 95 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 9 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

Bone broth may have more calories than chicken broth, but all of them come from extra protein. You'd be hard pressed to find something else that's so low-cal and protein-rich. Bonus: Bone broth is a great source of collagen, which can stave off wrinkles and arthritis. For even more foods that can help turn back the clock, don't miss these 18 Health Foods with Big Beauty Benefits!

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NOT BAD, BUT NOT GREAT... HERE'S THE B-TEAM


Pacific Organic Chicken &Wild Rice Soup

Nutrition: 120 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 660 mg sodium 17 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 5 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

Minus the massive quantity of salt, we love everything about this soup. If you decide to dig in, be sure to wash it down with a big glass of H20 to flush the excess sodium from your system.

Campbell's Chunky Fajita Chicken with Rice and Beans Soup

Nutrition: 1 cup, 130 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 850 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 7 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Carrageenan

We love that the majority of this can is filled with veggies and fibrous beans, but the sodium content is far too high to get our full stamp of approval. Plus, some may find the carrageenan, an additive derived from seaweed, to be irritating. It's been linked to ulcers, inflammation, and other gastrointestinal problems in sensitive individuals.

Progresso Zesty Santa Fe Style Chicken Soup

Nutrition: 1 cup, 80 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 5 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Potassium Chloride, Soy Protein Isolate, Sodium Phosphate

This low-sodium soup uses potassium chloride to make up for the lack of salt. The additive is considered safe by the Food&Drug Administration; however, people with kidney or heart problems should avoid it. It's also found in fertilizer and was used in fire extinguishers as an effective fire retardant up until the 1960s. However, if you only look at the nutritionals, this isn't a horrible soup. We'll let you decide if it's something that's worthy of a place in your bowl.

Campbell's Healthy Request Savory Chicken with Brown Rice Soup

Nutrition: 1 cup, 110 calories, 2.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 410 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar

Ingredients We Don't Love: Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan

If you ignore the potassium chloride and carrageenan, this soup has a relatively sound nutritional profile. The only thing it's really lacking is fiber. If you decided to dig into this can, be sure to pair it with something else that's rich in the nutrient—or your stomach may be left rumbling.

Progresso Savory Chicken&Wild Rice

Nutrition: 1 cup, 110 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 470 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 6 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Potassium Chloride, Soy Protein Isolate, Sodium Phosphate

If you ignore the fact that the ingredients label reads like a science lab's inventory list, this is a pretty nutritionally sound can of broth—high in protein, too.

Campbell's Organic Chicken Tortilla Soup

Nutrition: 140 calories, 2 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 650 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 8 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

The only thing we don't like about this soup is the excess salt.

Pacific Organic Santa Fe Style Chicken Soup

Nutrition: 1 cup, 140 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 700 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 6 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

This has too much salt to land a spot on our Eat This list, but otherwise, there's nothing but wholesome goodness inside this container.

Annie's Homegrown Organic Soup Star Pasta&Chicken

Nutrition: 80 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 680 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 6 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Soy protein concentrate

It's not that this is an awful pick, but Campbell's make a similar stock that's lighter in sodium and gets all of its protein from chicken rather than soy fillers. Speaking of protein, discover these 22 High-Protein, Low-Carb Snacks for When You're Tired.


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