Savvy Swaps: Healthy Soups, Stocks + Broths Brands
We’re back with our series, Savvy Swaps, where we analyze popular store-bought products and offer up healthier alternatives, without the negative additives. Today, we’re tossing unhealthy, toxic soups, stocks and broths for safer, real-food-based, healthy soups, stocks + broths.
GIVEAWAY ALERT: SCROLL DOWN TO ENTER TO WIN $440+ WORTH OF HEALTHY SOUPS, STOCKS AND BROTHS!
Doesn’t it suck when you think you’re being healthy, only to read a label and find out it’s full of junk?
You’re going about your day, trying to do your best, eat right, and you go to make a healthy soup. Whether you’re heating up a can of chicken noodle or tomato basil, or making your own from scratch using stock or broth, you feel like, “yeah, this is a healthy choice.”
It’s vegetables, it’s low-calorie, low-fat broth–and with all the rage around bone broth these days, surely regular broth is healthy, right?
Oh, how I wish that were true.
Here are just a few of the ingredients I found in some of the most popular store-bought soup, stock and broth brands (think Campbell’s, Swanson, Progresso and even Simple Truth Organic): “natural flavor”, MSG, caramel color, trans fats, cane sugar, yeast extract, sulfites, excess sodium, and ingredients likely derived from antibiotic-treated animals that may have been treated with hormones and/or growth promoters.
Mmmmm! The picture of health, right?
Yes, it’s sad, but true. Most store-bought soups, stocks and broths are brimming with harmful additives. But here’s the deal: this series is not about food shaming or throwing out everything in your pantry.
Savvy Swaps is meant to shed light on what’s in our food and encourage label-reading so that you can be aware, be informed and then make a decision based on what’s right for you.
RELATED: Savvy Swaps: Healthier Jarred Sauces
If, after reading this story, you want to try a safer, healthier brand of soup, stock or broth, you don’t have to throw out every can or box currently in your pantry. Rather, next time you run out, simply replace that can with a better-for-you brand.
Celebrate progress, not perfection. That’s what we’re all about here on Root + Revel.
So, to that end, let’s get to the good news. There are a handful of brands out there offering clean, real-food-based, healthy soups, stocks and broths that are just as convenient, but SO MUCH BETTER for you.
Take a look at some of the leading brands’ ingredients labels to get an idea of how some of these toxic soups, stocks and broths compare to their healthier counterparts:
- Canned Soup: When it comes to buying canned soup, Campbell’s or Progresso likely comes to mind. Not only are these cans likely lined with BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical that leaches from the cans into the food, but they’re also filled with excess sodium, added sugar, inflammatory oils/trans fats, “natural flavors”, and a host of other additives, preservatives, gums and glutens. Even if you skip the can and opt for soup in a bag from a brand like Bear Creek, you’re still not safe. Bear Creek’s soups are highly processed, made with synthetic food dyes, all of the aforementioned toxic ingredients, plus ingredients likely derived from antibiotic-treated animals that may have been treated with hormones and/or growth promoters, as are any non-organic soups.
- Chicken Broth: When you think about making chicken broth at home, what would you use? Chicken, obviously. Maybe some herbs and spices, throw in a couple onions, carrots and/or celery. And that’s about it, right? Would you add “natural flavor”? How about yeast extract? Corn sugar? MSG? Maltodextrin? Xanthan Gum? I didn’t think so–and yet, that’s exactly what you’ll find in brands like Swanson’s Natural Goodness, College Inn Chicken Broth and even Trader Joe’s Savory Chicken Broth. And don’t even get me started on Knorr Homestyle Stock Concentrated Chicken Broth–it is absolutely disgusting!
- Beef Broth: The same goes for beef broth. Think about how you’d make it at home, and then compare that ingredient list to what’s on the label of most store-bought brands. Here’s the list for Tabatchnick Gourmet Beef Flavored Broth: Filtered Water, Salt, Cooked Beef, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Caramel Color, Flavoring and Disodium Inosinate/Disodium Guanylate. What exactly is gourmet about that? Campbell’s Beef Broth isn’t any better–it’s got Yeast Extract, Monosodium Glutamate, Flavoring, Dextrose, Caramel Color, Beef Flavor, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Water, and Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten. And even seemingly healthy brands like Simple Truth Organic Beef Stock use caramel color, cane sugar and “beef flavor” in their broth. You may be thinking that “beef flavor” doesn’t sound so bad, but there’s a warning label on their box cautioning “may contain milk, soy, wheat and almonds.” Hmm, that doesn’t sound like beef to me. That warning is exactly how you know that “Natural Flavor” isn’t what you think.
RELATED: SAVVY SWAPS HEALTHY CONDIMENTS
Which brings me to my next point: “natural flavor”. Almost every store-bought brand of soups, stocks and broths that I analyzed for this story contains “Natural Flavors”, including Imagine Foods, Pacific Foods*, Kitchen Basics, Whole Foods 365 Organic brand and Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic. *Note: Pacific Simply Stock Organic Chicken Unsalted Stock is totally clean.
Flavors aside, these brands are fairly clean; HOWEVER the fact that “natural flavors” are still made in a lab using an undisclosed ingredient list makes me pause. Don’t I deserve to know what it’s my food? Don’t you?
And why can’t these brands just rely on truly natural flavors that come from just using real food? Why do they have to manufacture the flavor of chicken for their chicken broth?! JUST USE CHICKEN!
The fact that all of those seemingly healthy brands use “natural flavors” just goes to show you that you can’t just read the label and assume because it has the words “organic” or “natural” that the ingredients are clean and pure.
I’ve posted many times before about the negative health effects that come from consuming these harmful, toxic ingredients, so I won’t go into that again (you can read more here); instead, let’s get to the good part.
SHOPPING LIST: HEALTHY SOUPS, STOCKS + BROTHS
While the safest way to know what you’re getting is always to make your own, sometimes there just isn’t time. I get it, and personally rely on store-bought products the majority of the time, too.
Fortunately, there are a handful of brands out there who produce high-quality, organic, natural and delicious soups, stocks and broths that you can feel good about eating. Here are a few of my favorite healthy brands:
- Nona Lim Soups + Broths: I was recently introduced to this brand and let me just tell you that I am hooked! Not only are all of their products Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and made with Non-GMO ingredients, but their ingredients lists are super clean with only real foods in as close as possible to its natural and unprocessed form as possible. Free of additives or preservatives, their fresh, whole vegetables are sustainably sourced from Northern California farms, whether you opt for their classic chili, their Thai tomato basil soup or one of their Asian-inspired bone broths, like Spicy Szechuan, Vietnamese Pho or Miso Ramen. Oh, and did I mention they’re DELICIOUS! I’ve tried almost every flavor now and I’ve yet to find one I don’t love!
- Amy’s Organic Soups: This family-owned brand has an organic soup for every occasion, from Indian golden lentil and butternut squash to minestrone, French country vegetable, and black bean. Working closely with small, organic farms, Amy’s soups are made with real food ingredients you’d actually recognize and in kitchens where everything is hand-made from scratch, rather than mass manufactured. Many of their soups are vegan and gluten-free, as well. AND AND AND, all of their cans are non-BPA-lined cans. You can buy them on Amazon for less than $2.50 per can, too.
- Tio Gazpacho: It may be cool right now, but when the weather heats up or you’re in the mood for a smoothie but don’t want the sugar, gazpacho is a fantastic way to get your veggies in! I was so excited when I learned about Tio Gazpacho. All of their soups are non-GMO, vegan, raw, gluten-free, Paleo-friendly and contain no nuts, dairy or soy. With a variety of flavors, from tomato to pepper and corn to avocado or watermelon to strawberry, there’s something for everyone. And their labels couldn’t be cleaner–their soups are never heated and contain no additives, flavors, or chemicals; in their place are raw veggies, fruits, olive oil, vinegar, Himalayan pink salt and a splash of water. YES!
- Stocks + Broths: I’ve told you all before about why I exclusively use bone broth for all of my stocks/broths needs now (and even given you a recipe to make at home). There is a difference between bone broth, regular stock and regular broth, so be sure to read this story to understand that difference. When it comes to stocks and broths, there are a few key things I look for:
1) The broth should be made from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals, ideally from organic sources.
2) Ideally the broth will be made using animal bones and simmered for a long time to draw out the collagen, gelatin and minerals from those bones, often using apple cider vinegar.
3) The other ingredients are clean, real food herbs, spices, and vegetables that are truly natural flavors, rather than some unspecified, lab-produced “natural flavor”
That’s it. Pretty simple right? But, of course, as you saw above, it’s not always so easy to find. Fortunately, there are a few store-bought brands that follow these principles, and I am a huge fan of all of them, often switching up which brands I buy based on what’s available near me, what’s on sale or what kind of stock or broth I need (chicken, beef, vegetable, turkey, etc.).
RELATED: SAVVY SWAPS TOXIC TOILETRIES
Here are my favorites:
- Bonafide Provisions: you can find these bags in the frozen section of the grocery store
- Kettle & Fire: you can buy these shelf-stable bone broth boxes on Amazon, or for just $8.45 per box on Thrive Market. You can also order direct through their website and use the code RRHQ15 for 15% off!
- Brothee Bone Broth: this LA-based company’s rich and nourishing broths are available online with national delivery
- Vital Proteins: My favorite brand for collagen, they also have delicious organic bone broth powders that you can add into any meal for extra nutrients and protein, or take these travel packs with you on the go or when traveling.
- Bone & Co Bone Broth: this Atlanta-based company delivers their healthy bone broths nationally from their online store, as well as around town.
Alright, so there you have it! The best healthy soups, stocks and broths, so you can finally toss those toxic cans and start nourishing your body! More good news: it’s time for our giveaway!! Enter below to win over $440 worth of healthy soups, stocks and broths from all of the brands mentioned above. It’ll be the perfect way for you to find your new favorite!
This post is sponsored by Nona Lim and Amy’s Organic. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Root + Revel possible. This post also includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.