Nutrition: Healthy soups

Soups are the perfect one-dish meal that are easy to prepare and save for later.

Soups are the perfect one-dish meal that are easy to prepare and save for later. The main ingredients to have on hand to make a soup are onion, garlic, celery and carrots. I like adding fresh grated ginger when I have a cold to add some warm and spice flavor.

Canned or packets of soups are handy and they can be made hearty by adding more vegetables, such as leftover cooked veggies, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach or seaweed. Opt for lower sodium canned soups, taste and decide if you need to add more flavor with fresh herbs and spices. Add fresh lime or lemon juice, too. The Dietary Guidelines recommends less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

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Soups can boost your fiber intake by adding fresh vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains like buckwheat and whole-wheat noodles. It is an easy way to fill up on essential nutrients like potassium and protein. Adding half a cup of white beans in a soup will increase the fiber to 7 grams, 6 grams of protein and 290 milligrams of potassium. When you have leftover grilled chicken, add it on top of a tortilla soup or minestrone soup. Greens like kale and Swiss chard will add vitamins and minerals.

When you need to lose weight, soups can also help to stay on track. Fill your soups with low-calorie foods, like vegetables and add some protein to keep you full longer. The water content combined with the fiberous foods might be the right meal for you. When you make a soup, make sure to make plenty for leftovers. Mason jars are my favorite way to store leftover soups. Finally, don’t forget to add jalapenos, avocados and grated cheese on top.

Malena Perdomo, MS, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes educator, consultant, writer, cookbook co-author, spokesperson, Affiliate Professor of Nutrition - Metropolitan State University of Denver and past spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.