“De-Condense” Condensed Soups

I’m going through a stage in my life where eating on the go, or on a budget, it fairly common.  While it doesn’t necessarily have to be impossible to eat healthy during times like this, it can be tricky!  More than once, I’ve found myself rummaging through the pantry and cupboards, looking for something to microwave.  When all of my cabinets were stripped bare of edible goods, there always seemed to be one last food item clinging to safety at the very back:  condensed soup.  It hides in the shadows, waiting until I have a craving for some quick and heart chicken noodle, or until I’m in desperate need.

Let’s face it…there are very few condensed soups that are 100% satisfactory.  Either they’re very high in sodium or fat, or they’re low-sodium and they just don’t hit the taste buds quite the same.  Depending on which scenario fits your soup situation, there are ways to combat the problems presented by condensed soup.

Our first look is as “regular” soup…you know, the ones with all of the bad stuff like sodium and fat.  If it’s a brothy-type soup, it’s easy to thin out the sodium some.  Increase your water-to-broth ratio.  Strain out one-third to half of the broth (after adding the initial water) and replace with it water.  If you’re worried about it tasting watered down, add your own herbs and spices.  These can jazz up the taste without having all the sodium of the original broth composition.  Also, you can NEVER have too many veggies.  It’s easy to customize your soup.  A few sprigs of broccoli and a single sliced mushroom can really add flavor to a bowl of previously-unsatisfying soup!

Now, if you’re on the other end, with sodium-free or low-sodium soup, check out some options as far as seasonings go.  Potassium chloride is a salt-replacement that doctors often recommend for people who should not have sodium.  It tastes just as good as salt, but may not be a good option for everyone.  Herbs and spices can make a great addition to most soups, too.  As with the watered-down soup above, you can also add your own ingredients.  I like to add brown rice or barley to soup, and sliced up vegetables cook through well when microwaved with the soup.

Another note (and this is just based off of personal experience) is that the transition to low-sodium seems to go smoother for brothy-type soups.  Creamy soups are sometimes harder to add ingredients to, and the low-sodium versions aren’t always as versatile as those of other soups.  Also, cream soups are generally diluted with milk, which adds calcium but can be much fattier than water.

Who’d have thought something so simple as a condensed soup could be so complicated!