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Healthy Soups for Seniors

Reviewed and Updated by Anastasia Iliou,

There are thousands of unique soup recipes out there on the internet. While soup may only be as healthy as the ingredients inside it, Eatingwell.com reports that soup-eaters have “higher intakes of fiber, vitamin A, magnesium, iron, and potassium, which are all important for a healthy diet, especially for aging seniors! Soups also tend to be relatively low in calories!

Granted, like everything else, you should enjoy soup in moderation. Soups also tend to be high in sodium, which can raise your blood pressure. The potassium content in many soups can even the sodium out, but it’s still not something you want to over-indulge in. 

Healthiest Soups for Seniors

The way you prepare and consume a soup can determine whether or not it’s healthy for you. “Healthy” can also depend on your specific dietary needs.

However, the following soups can be deliciously healthy when prepared correctly!

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Broth-based Soups

Broth is made of bones and tissue usually derived from chicken, cows, or even fish. Broth can be rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. MedicalNewsToday says that broth can strengthen your joints, fight osteoarthritis, reduce inflammation, support weight loss, and even aid sleep.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis, affecting millions each year. Arthritis can become a legitimate concern. Arthritis happens when your bones wear down from overuse, which can become more possible as you age.

Tomato-based Soups

Tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants and are sometimes considered a superfood. Uniquely, they also contain lycopene, a plant compound that gives tomatoes their red color and has been linked to prostate cancer prevention. Tomatoes are one of the few sources of lycopene. Tomatoes have also been proven to help maintain blood pressure, support heart health, improve insulin levels in diabetic people, reduce constipation, and improve skin and eye health.

Tomato Soup for Seniors
Tomato Soup for Seniors

Lentil-based Soups

Lentils are high in fiber and nutrients like vitamin B, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They also contain phytochemicals, which protect against chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Again, like everything, it’s important to only enjoy lentils in moderation. Uniquely, they contain “antinutrients,” which can reduce your intake of other nutrients. Thankfully, you would have to eat a lot of lentils for this to pose a real problem!

Healthy Canned Soup

In many cases, canned soups are not going to be nearly as healthy as a fresh, home-made batch. However, sometimes, you just don’t have the time or energy to make yourself some fresh soup! Canned soup can be very cheap at your local grocery store (and even online), and it’s not always terrible for you. 

When looking for healthy canned soups, look at the nutrition label and look for low sodium content, less calories, and more vitamins and minerals. Additionally, canned soups tend to have high levels of BPA. Consider looking for soups packaged in “Tetra Pak” or other cardboard/BPA-free solutions.

Here are a few examples we found online: 

  1. Health Valley Organic (No Salt Added) Minestrone: 
    • Only 100mg of sodium in the whole container
    • Only 180 calories in the whole container
    • Only 4g of fat in the whole container
    • A serving is about half of the container. Each serving contains 40% of your daily vitamin A intake, 15% vitamin C, 4% calcium, and 8% iron
  2. Dr. McDougall’s Organic Split Pea Soup
    • Verified non-GMO, gluten-free, and USDA organic
    • Comes in BPA-free packaging
    • Entire container has only 250 calories and only 1g of fat and 1g sugar
    • No cholesterol 
    • Entire container contains 590mg sodium
    • Entire container has 15g of protein 
    • Also includes vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium
  3. Pacific Foods Creamy Tomato Soup
    • Verified gluten-free, kosher, vegetarian, and USDA organic
    • BPA-free packaging
    • There is quite a bit of sodium in this one, with 3,000mg in the entire container
    • Entire package contains 8g fat and 400 calories
    • Good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron

Easiest Soups to Make at Home

Each of the healthy canned soup options we listed above can be made at home! We searched the internet and found three great recipes to share.

1. Easy Home-made Minestrone

We found this minestrone recipe from the Food Network!

You might have a lot of these ingredients in your pantry already, and you can use them to make six servings of minestrone!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 diced celery stalks
  • 1 diced large carrot
  • 1 1/2 cups of trimmed green beans (cut into ½ inch pieces)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 28oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (drained & rinsed) 15oz can low-sodium kidney brains
  • 1 cup elbow pasta
  • ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil

Directions: 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat
  2. Add onion, cook about four minutes or until translucent
  3. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds
  4. Add celery and carrot and cook until soft, about five minutes
  5. Stir in green beans, dried oregano and basil, ¾ tsp salt, and pepper to taste; cook for three minutes
  6. Add diced and crushed tomatoes and chicken broth; bring to boil
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for ten minutes
  8. Stir in kidney beans and pasta, cook until tender (about ten minutes)
  9. Season with salt
  10. Serve topped with parmesan and chopped basil

Thank you, Food Network, for this recipe! Head over there to print this recipe and to leave a comment about what you think about it!

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2. Easy Home-made Split-pea Soup

We found this recipe for split-pea soup that serves six people from Epicurious! You could probably substitute out a different cut of pork (for example, if you have some leftover ham from Thanksgiving, throw that in there)!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 chopped large onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
  • 1 ½ pounds smoked pork hocks
  • 2 tsp dried leaf marjoram
  • 1 ½ cups green split peas
  • 8 cups water

Directions: 

  1. Melt butter in large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat
  2. Add onion, celery, and carrots
  3. Saute until vegetables soften (about eight minutes)
  4. Add pork and marjoram; stir for one minute
  5. Add peas, then water; bring to boil
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover pot
  7. Simmer until pork and vegetables are tender and peas are falling apart; stir often (about 70 minutes)
  8. Transfer hocks to a bowl
  9. Puree five cups soup in batches in a blender; return to pot
  10. Cut pork off bones, dice and return to soup
  11. Season with salt and pepper, serve warm!

Thank you, Epicurious, for this recipe! Head over there to leave a comment about the recipe.

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3. Easy Home-made Tomato Soup

We found this recipe for “Easy Three-Ingredient Tomato Soup” by Adam and Joanne Gallagher at Inspired Taste! It contains half the ingredients (or less) and half the sodium of a canned tomato soup!

Ingredients: 

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ large onion cut into wedges
  • 1 28oz can peeled or crushed tomatoes (or 10-12 medium fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 ½ cups water, low sodium vegetable stock, or chicken stock
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Directions: 

  • Melt butter in dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat
  • Add onions, water, tomatoes, and ½ tsp salt
  • Bring to simmer and cook uncovered for about 40 minutes
  • Stir occasionally; add salt as needed
  • Pour into a blender and blend to taste (it can be as smooth or as textured as you’d like)
  • Add basil if desired!

A note from Medicare Plan Finder: we love a little parmesan in our tomato soup!

Thank you, Inspired Taste, for this recipe! Head over to their site to watch a video of how this soup is made and to leave a comment with your thoughts on the recipe.

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