It's Time for Soup

Posted: November 4, 2013

As the weather gets a little cooler, it is only natural to have hearty, warm soups on the brain. Homemade soups are a great meal option for as a side dish because they can often pack in a lot of nutrients without a ton of calories.

Soups are a great way to add vegetables into your diet. Try to focus on incorporating produce that is in season locally. Some fall Pennsylvania produce options include apples, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, spinach, squash, tomatoes and turnips.

Making your own soup is also a great way to control the amount of salt used. Many canned or store bought soups are high in sodium, but homemade varieties don’t have to be! Avoiding condensed soups or store bought broths as an ingredient will make a soup healthier. When a soup calls for a thickener, like a condensed soup, try our Easy White Sauce (recipe below), or add in pureed beans, nonfat dry milk, or puree part of the actual soup and add it back in. If you do use a store bought broth, choose low sodium varieties. Also, instead of using salt, enhance flavor by adding fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process.

Another tip is to try to make your soups ahead of time. Letting your soup sit in the refrigerator before you eat it allows any extra fat in the soup to come to the surface and harden. You can then skim this fat off of the top with a spoon, and be left with a lower-fat option.

Next time you are feeling a bit chilly, try to make a homemade variety of your favorite soup, or try one of our fall favorites, Pumpkin and Bean Soup (recipe below).

Easy White Sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoon flour
1 cup nonfat milk

In a sauce pan, heat the oil. Add the flour. Add the milk gradually. Heat to boiling and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat.

Yields 8 servings
1 serving: Calories 40, Fat 3g, Carbohydrate 3g, Protein 1g, Sodium 10mg, Fiber 0g, Calcium 3%

Pumpkin and Bean Soup
1 can white beans, drained and
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup water
1 can pumpkin (15 ounces)
1 ½ cup apple juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, allspice or
½   teaspoon black pepper

Blend the white beans, onion and water with a potato masher until smooth. In a large pot, add the pumpkin, juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. Stir. Add the blended bean mixture to the pot. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until warmed through.

Yields 6 servings, serving size 1 cup
1 serving: Calories 140, Fat 0.5g, Carbohydrate 28g, Protein 7g, Sodium 110mg, Fiber 7g, Calcium 8%

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2013). Tip of the Day Fall Soups and Stews. Retrieved from
Penn State Extension Pennsylvania Produce
United States Department of Agriculture SNAP-Ed Connection. (2013). Recipe Finder. Retrieved from

Article is excerpt from "Healthy Eating on a Budget"  Penn State Extension