10 Genius Ways to Cut Sodium in Your Favorite Soup Recipes

Even homemade soups can be laden with unwanted salt. Here are 10 easy ways to cut the sodium in your favorite soup recipes.

Woman hands holding mug of vegetable soup with parsley and croutons over wooden background - healthy winter vegetarian foodPhoto: Shutterstock/Oksana Mizina

Let’s face it, salt is one of those ingredients that makes food taste so much better, but sodium is a thorn in our diet. According to the American Heart Association, most of us should limit sodium to 2,300mg per day, with an ideal limit of just 1,500mg for most adults. To put that into perspective, that’s the amount of sodium in about 1 teaspoon salt (or 1/2 teaspoon at the lower range). As much as salt enhances the taste of our food, there are ways to break the salty habit without skimping on flavor.

1. Splash in acid

Lemon, lime and vinegar actually trick our tongues into thinking there’s more salt in food and it transform the flavors. Here’s the trick: Use less salt while cooking, then add a squeeze of lemon or lime right before you serve up a steamy bowl of soup. Citrus zest can also be used for an added salt-free zing!

2. Roast vegetables

Roasting veggies brings out rich, caramelized flavors cutting back the need to add salt for seasoning. Roasted tomatoes, potatoes or onions can elevate any soup.

3. Use homemade stock

Store-bought stock and broth are jam-packed with salt. Opt for the sodium-free varieties when you are in a rush, but even better is to try making your own. This homemade chicken stock recipe is rich with flavors that override the need for salt.

4. Curtail condiments

Salty additions like soy sauce, fish sauce and ketchup pack in the sodium. Try Bragg Liquid Aminos in place of soy sauce or use reduced-sodium soy sauce. As for ketchup, whisk in a little tomato paste instead.

5. Freshen it with herbs

Fresh herbs are bursting with flavor. Replace dried herbs like, parsley, rosemary, thyme or oregano with fresh at a ratio of 1:3 (if a recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon dried, use 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh).

6. Bathe the beans

Rinsing canned foods such as beans reduces sodium by almost 40%. You could also soak your own beans instead of using canned or look for canned beans that have no salt added.

7. Break out the spice rack

A pinch of cayenne or a sprinkle of smoky cumin may be the boost in flavor you’re craving. Also, check the expiration dates: If they’ve been hanging out in your pantry for a couple of years, then it’s time to give them a toss and buy new.

8. Cut back on dairy

Milk is naturally high in sodium, but who wants to give up the creamy mouthfeel? Not me! Blend in beans or potatoes to ramp up the creaminess with an added bonus of more fiber. Find other places where sodium is hidden.

9. Switch out olive oil for butter

Salted butters are frequently used to sauté vegetables in a soup base. Swap out the butter with olive oil for a salt-free and heart healthy improvement.

10. Pack in the produce

If a recipe calls for one cup of spinach, add in two. By increasing the volume of soup with healthy (salt-free) vegetables, it reduces the amount of sodium per cup of soup.

Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN is the co-author of the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies and Born To Eat. You can find her dishing out nutrition tips and sharing recipes at justwendyjo.com.

Test these tips with Grandma's best soups.
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Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN
As a registered dietitian Wendy Jo touches on the science and facts behind food, but as a gardener and world traveler she savors the classical dishes our great-grandmothers once made. When she’s not in her kitchen, you can find her and her family exploring the US in their campervan, Olaf!