From a soup that promises to strengthen your immune system, to another that could help you to sleep better — can these new winter warmers be as healthy as they sound?
MANDY FRANCIS asked Fiona Moncrieff, a dietitian for the NHS-backed healthy eating programme Second Nature based in London to assess a selection. We then rated them out of ten.
Bol Sweet Potato & Cauli-daal immune-boosting super soup
Bol Sweet Potato & Cauli-daal immune-boosting super soup, 500g, £2.75, ocado.com.
Per 100g: Calories, 57; saturated fat, 0.8g; protein, 3.4g; fibre, 3.9g; sugar, 1.9g; salt, 0.34g
Claim: ‘Each spoonful will boost your immune system.’
Expert verdict: Fiona Moncrieff, a dietitian for NHS-backed healthy eating programme Second Nature, in London, says the 500g serving provides three of your five-a-day. Sweet potato and cauliflower are good sources of fibre and antioxidants. This is also high in healthy fats and the lentils are high in protein and fibre.
But one serving alone will not boost immunity — we need a balanced diet, good sleep, low stress and regular exercise for that. And the lentils won’t provide all the amino acids we need (to build and repair tissue), as animal proteins do.
Texture/taste: Hearty and filling, with strong Indian spices.
Glorious! SkinnyLicious soup Japanese Rainbow Miso
Glorious! SkinnyLicious soup Japanese Rainbow Miso, 600g, £1.50, sainsburys.co.uk
Per 100g: Calories, 27; saturated fat, 0.1g; protein, 1.4g; fibre, 0.9g; sugar, 2.2g; salt, 0.58g
Claim: ‘Low in fat and calories, high fibre, high protein and provides one of your five-a-day.’
Expert verdict: A smooth soup, made from carrot, sweetcorn and red peppers with miso, tofu, ginger and coriander. The recommended 300g portion provides just 4.2g protein (from the tofu), only 6 per cent of your daily needs, and just 2.7g fibre, 9 per cent of your daily needs.
Low in fat and with just 81 calories in a serving, this is unlikely to keep you full for long. Fat is often vilified but a certain amount keeps you feeling fuller for longer, so add coconut milk or olive oil (plus a roll with chicken, egg or nut butter, for protein).
Texture/taste: Good, spicy flavour but a bit thin.
Ossa The Broup Traditional Chicken
Ossa The Broup Traditional Chicken, 500g, £7.99, planetorganic.com
Per 100g: Calories, 53; saturated fat, 7g; protein, 4.5g; fibre, 0.6g; sugar, 1.5g; salt, 0.17g
Claim: ‘A protein boost, perfect after a workout or at times of stress.’
Expert verdict: This is 64 per cent chicken bone broth — made by simmering bones to release vitamins, minerals and collagen (which gives elasticity to skin). The maker says bone broth can ‘act as a broom for the digestive system’ and ‘repair the gut lining’.
Bone broth contains gelatin, which can help food move through the digestive tract, but there’s not enough research to prove it repairs gut lining. Still, this is a great source of protein: a 250g serving will provide 11.25g — more than the other soups. This also has chicken meat, which provides all nine amino acids our bodies need.
Texture/taste: A light chicken-y stock with vegetable chunks. Home-made flavour.
Press Sweet Potato and Carrot soup
Press Sweet Potato and Carrot soup, 500g, £3.19, ocado.com
Per 100g: Calories, 53; saturated fat, 0.2g; protein, 0.7g; fibre, 1.3g; sugar, 3g; salt, 0.6g
Claim: A ‘creamy, nutritious soup. Immune-boosting turmeric to help you feel energised. Source of fibre.’
Expert verdict: This has a smaller recommended serving size (250g) compared with the usual 300g to 500g. At just 133 calories, you’d need to add protein, fat, and a wholemeal roll to make it a meal.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory linked to a reduced risk of disease, but the curcumin content of turmeric isn’t high (just 3 per cent) and most studies that have found benefits use curcumin extracts — with levels hard to reach using supermarket spice (or in this soup). The sweet potato and carrots are rich in antioxidant beta carotene.
Texture/taste: Silky, vegetable sweetness and strong spices.
Re:Nourish Calm Tomato, Basil, Passion Flower
Re:Nourish Calm Tomato, Basil, Passion Flower, 500g, £2, waitrose.com
Per 100g: Calories, 32; saturated fat, 0.4g; protein, 0.8g; fibre, 1.2g; sugar, 2.4g; salt, 0.4g
Claim: ‘Low fat, high fibre…with added passion flower, which can help you sleep and feel a little less stressed.’
Expert verdict: This generous 500g portion is 32 per cent tomato, a great source of the antioxidant lycopene. Antioxidants can help your immune system and reduce oxidative stress in the cells, protecting against certain cancers, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
There is also 6g of fibre, or 20 per cent of your daily needs. But there’s not much protein, so add lentils, shredded chicken or two boiled eggs to make it more balanced. Although passion flower is a herbal remedy for insomnia, there is not enough research to vouch for its efficacy and this soup does not contain much of it anyway.
Texture/taste: Fresh tomato with peppery basil notes.
Tideford Organics Tomato + Basil soup with Red Peppers + Miso
Tideford Organics Tomato + Basil soup with Red Peppers + Miso, 600g, £2.90, abelandcole.co.uk
Per 100g: Calories, 35; saturated fat, 0.7g; protein, 0.8g; fibre, 0.9g; sugar, 2.6g; salt, 0.6g
Claim: ‘UK’s first organic FODMAP-friendly soup.’ FODMAPS are carbohydrates that can trigger bloating, gas and stomach cramps in some people; a low-FODMAP diet helps those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Expert verdict: THIS is low-FODMAP and thanks to the tomatoes and red peppers, you’ll get 60mcg vitamin C in a 300g serving. Tomatoes and peppers are high in lycopene. Half a pot will provide just under one of your five-a-day. With 123 calories and low in fibre, a bowl won’t keep you full for long, though.
Texture/taste: Rather bland red pepper flavour.
Slimming World Pea & Ham soup, 500g, £2, iceland.co.uk
Per 100g: Calories, 47; saturated fat, 0.1g, protein, 4.2g; fibre, 1.8g; sugar, 1.8g; salt, 0.7g
Slimming World Pea & Ham soup
Claim: You can eat this soup in unlimited quantities on the Slimming World weight- loss programme.
Expert verdict: Peas are a good source of folate, a B vitamin important for heart health. Ham is a complete protein and will provide all the essential amino acids your body needs.
It is also a source of iron but is high in salt and nitrates, which are linked to increased bowel cancer risk. As for weight loss, it isn’t ‘better’ than others: the key to slimming is balanced meals that prevent hunger. Add chicken, yoghurt and a wholegrain roll to feel fuller.
Texture/taste: Thick but rather salty.
Soupologie 5-A-Day The Green Collection
Five of your five a day
Soupologie 5-A-Day The Green Collection, 600g, £2.99, ocado.com
Per 100g: Calories, 55; saturated fat, 0.2g; protein, 1.7g; fibre, 2g; sugar, 3.2g; salt, 0.28g
Claim: ‘Your five-a-day in one pot.’
Expert verdict: You need a full 600g pot of this to get your five-a-day — a lot of soup at one sitting (a normal serving is 300g to 500g, so eat this in two meals).
Spinach is a source of vitamins A and C for immunity, and vitamin K, for blood clotting.
While it has a good 6g fibre in half a pot — 20 per cent of your daily needs — it is low in fat and protein, so I would add chicken, tofu or grated cheese for a more balanced, filling meal.
It has the highest sugar content of the soups here (about five teaspoons) but as it comes from apples, this won’t count towards your 30g daily limit of sugar. However, fruit sugar in large amounts can be converted into fat.
Texture/taste: Texture like a fast-food milkshake, with an odd, sweet, apple flavour.
M&S Souper Broccoli & Spinach Soup
M&S Souper Broccoli & Spinach Soup, 600g, £2.50, ocado.com
Per 100g: Calories, 37; saturated fat, 0.2g; protein, 2.2g; fibre, 1.7g; sugar, 1.3g; salt, 0.55g
Claim: ‘A source of protein which is needed to maintain growth in muscles. Two of your five-a-day.’
Expert verdict: The recommended 300g portion (half a pot) contains two of your five-a-day but there’s just 6.6g protein — mainly from the edamame beans and low-fat yoghurt, about 10 per cent of the recommended daily amount and less than some of the other soups (so for a balanced meal, add protein, full-fat yoghurt or coconut milk to combat hunger).
The dark green veg — broccoli, spinach and kale — contain vitamin K, important for blood clotting and wound healing.
Texture/taste: Fresh and green, with a hint of ginger.