The 6 Best Trader Joe’s Soups Worth Buying, Says Dietitian
Soup tends to take a backseat during the summer months when many of us prefer to eat fresher, and frankly, cooler meals. Now that a slight chill has started to grace the air, along with pumpkin spice everything, soup is ready to have its moment again. Thankfully, popular grocery stores like Trader Joe’s have many soups to choose from. But which ones would be considered the best nutritionally?
While soup can be comforting and nourishing, like all prepared foods it can also be a nutritional pitfall if left unchecked. Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD/LDN, director of nutrition for Body Beautiful Miami, talks us through other things she looks for in a balanced, nutritionally-rich soup.
How to look for the best soups at Trader Joe’s
“It’s important to look at the ingredient list,” she says. “Are there any refined vegetable seed oils in the product such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut, sesame, or rice bran oil? These are a problem for everyone as they are highly processed and linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and arthritis. Oils that are optimal include avocado, coconut, and olive oil.”
Gomer also advises looking for fewer ingredients. “The fewer added chemicals and preservatives the better,” she says. “And avoid added sugars, if you are watching your blood sugar, which has many names including corn syrup, honey, dextrose, fructose, and basically anything that ends with ‘ose.'”
Prepared soup also tends to be high in sodium, yet Gomer points out that a higher amount of sodium once in a while doesn’t have to be too much of a concern. “Not everyone is sodium or salt sensitive,” she says. “Where it was once thought that everyone needs to avoid sodium, this is not always the case, and some people, especially those either working out or working in hot conditions, actually need to consume more sodium which is lost through sweat. Certainly eating one higher sodium food, like soup, can be offset by eating less the rest of the day.”
With those principles in mind, here are Gomer’s picks for the best Trader Joe’s soups.
1. Kettle Cooked Chicken Soup
Trader Joe’s Kettle Cooked Chicken Soup can be found in the refrigerated section, and starts with antibiotic-free chicken and includes a good dose of vegetables and fresh herbs.
“This is a great choice,” says Gomer. “The ingredients are all real and recognizable, with no added chemicals, preservatives, unhealthy seed oils, or added sugar. To make this even more of a meal I would add extra chicken and maybe some extra veggies for more satiety.”
2. Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup
Trader Joe’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup is actually a canned selection — look for it in the pantry section next to quarts of stocks and other shelf-stable soups.
“This is another great take on lentil soup, with a bonus of having all organic ingredients,” says Gomer. “Again, this soup gets props because we recognize every ingredient, without extra chemicals or preservatives.”
With a greater dose of lentils, this soup has a good amount of protein: 12 grams per serving, which is key for satiety. Gomer suggests adding ground turkey or chickpeas if that suits you, or even just eating a double portion for a larger, but still healthy meal.
3. Organic Split Pea Soup
While many split pea soups contain ham, which contributes additional fat and sodium, Trader Joe’s Organic Split Pea Soup is a vegetarian option that is actually an upgraded, gluten-free recipe from Trader Joe’s original take on split pea.
“I love this split pea soup with its organic ingredients,” she says. “Next to making it yourself, you can’t get a better option, with no added unhealthy oils or needless sugar. I would boost it by adding more veggies and more protein – either in the form of beans, lentils, or ground chicken or turkey to make this a really filling meal.”
4. Garden Vegetable Soup
Trader Joe’s Garden Vegetable Soup comes from the pantry section and is offered in a pint-sized jar.
“This would be a good option for a lighter meal or a snack,” says Gomer, again highlighting the lack of unhealthy oils or added sugar. The ingredient list includes not only the usual suspects for a vegetable soup such as tomatoes, carrots, celery, and onions, but also includes red bell peppers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, kale, swiss chard, and spinach.
Because it has a light amount of protein and fiber, Gomer says this soup wouldn’t work well as a stand-alone meal. “[It’s] better as an awesome side to pair with a turkey wrap or veggie burger.”
5. Tomato Feta Soup
While generally avoiding those soups that are cream or cheese-based is the best course of action when it comes to making good soup choices (due to their high amount of saturated fat content), that doesn’t mean that cheese can’t occasionally have a presence, as with Trader Joe’s Tomato Feta Soup.
“Assuming a person is not lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy, this soup is a great choice,” says Gomer. “I love that they use healthy olive oil and clean ingredients. I also appreciate that, unlike other tomato soups, they do not add extra sugar to balance the tomato acidity.”
6. Lentil Soup with Ancient Grains
Again coming from the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s, Gomer says this lentil soup is a winner.
“There are no added unhealthy oils — in fact, they’ve used olive oil,” she says. “There are no added sugars, only that which comes from the veggies and lentils.”
Plus, the ancient grains which are quinoa, amaranth, millet, and flax seeds provide a filling 8 grams of fiber per serving.
“To make this even more of a meal, add some diced chicken, or if you want to keep it vegetarian, you can add additional beans such as pinto,” she suggests.
Good food brings people together. So do good emails.