A bowl of lies: Here’s why chicken noodle soup (especially store-bought ones) is not as healthy as you think

Chicken noodle soup is a comforting dish that’s often eaten on a cold day or if you’re recovering from an illness. However, not all kinds of soup are nutritious. In fact, eating canned chicken noodle soup could be bad for your health.

Unless you’re making your own batch, store-bought chicken noodle soup may contain too much sodium or have unnecessary ingredients.

Chicken noodle soup: The good, the bad, and the salty

According to Devin Alexander – celebrity chef and author of the diabetic-friendly cookbook called “You Can Have It!” – chicken noodle soup isn’t always a healthy dish. She warns that if you have high blood pressure, you need to be especially picky about the soup that you consume.

Listed below are the common ingredients used in chicken noodle soup and how it can add or take away from a serving’s nutritional value.


Chicken is full of protein, which can boost the immune system. However, since dark meat is less expensive than white meat, restaurants often use dark meat in their chicken noodle soup.

Alexander notes that white meat is the healthier protein source for your soup. Kate Letten, a registered dietitian based in Riverside, Illinois, adds that diced chicken (or the white meat with the fat cut off) is a high biological value protein. This means diced chicken has all the essential protein that the human body can’t naturally produce.

Letten explained that one cup of diced chicken has 43 g of protein while a cup of Campbell’s Homestyle Chicken soup only has 14 g of protein. Unlike homemade soup, canned chicken noodle soup only have around a third of the protein.

If you make your own chicken noodle soup, you can control what goes into the dish. However, you need to be careful when following recipes that use rotisserie chicken. Alexander warns that rotisserie chicken contains too much fat and salt, so it’s better to follow other healthier recipes. She suggests poaching white meat chicken breast in stock so the meat stays lean.


Noodles are full of carbohydrates that can help you feel full and satisfied. Most of the time, chicken noodle soup is made with white pasta instead of whole grain or whole wheat, unless you’re eating gluten-free soup. But even gluten-free noodles are made from rice instead of higher-fiber options.

If you’re making soup at home, use high-fiber pasta like green lentil pasta, or one that has added protein.


Hearty chicken broth has vitamins, minerals, and some fat. Warm broth can ease upper respiratory tract symptoms by providing hydration and stimulating nasal clearance. Bone broth and homemade broth can be nutritious, but it’s hard to make them without using some salt.

If you want to limit the sodium content of your broth, make your own soup. Instead of salt, use spices like garlic and pepper, along with some fresh herbs.

When you’re eating store-bought soup, check the label for its sodium content. According to the label on one brand of store-bought canned soup, it has “25 percent less sodium chicken noodle soup.” However, it contains 660 milligrams (mg) of sodium in half a cup and 1,220 mg in one cup. This is almost half of the recommended daily allowance of sodium for healthy individuals. (Related: Take a Look at the Chemicals in Processed Foods.)

Carrots, celery, garlic, and onions

If you want to make healthy chicken noodle soup, use organic carrots, celery, garlic, and onions. Leave the skin on the carrots because they are full of nutrients.

Carrots, celery, and onions have vitamins A and C, along with other antioxidants that can boost your immune system so you can fight off viruses. They may also help your body recover from illness more quickly.

On the other hand, canned chicken noodle soup has little to no grams of fiber.

Butter and oil

Before vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions are added to soup stock, they’re usually sauteed in butter. If you want to make your chicken noodle soup “cleaner” and lighter, replace butter with extra virgin olive oil, which can also boost the flavor of the vegetables.

Chicken noodle soup contains little to no calcium. To remedy this, you can eat fiber-rich apples and cheese as side dishes.

Don’t serve store-bought soups to your family. If you want to help them recover from a cold, serve nutritious, homemade chicken noodle soup instead.

Sources include:



comments powered by Disqus