For many of us warm weather people, we count down the winter days as we wait for the start of spring. In the meantime, Soup Month is here to warm our souls. Founded in 1986 by Campbells, Soup Month is a way to shake the chill and be nourished during the cold days of winter.  During this month, we gather up our favorite recipes and prepare an easy meal to warm up our day.

Whether it is split pea, minestrone, or the all-time favorite chicken noodle, soup, nothing warms us from head to toe like a hot bowl of soup.  However, soup can be loaded with fat and sodium but it can also be chock full of vitamins and nutrients that benefit our health. In fact, scientific studies suggest chicken noodle soup provides anti-inflammatory effects that can relieve congestion and upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold. So what are the healthiest soups and what should you avoid? 

Not all soup is created equally. We all love New England clam chowder, but it is not the healthiest soup selection. Although it usually contains clams and corn, it is almost always made with cream or milk base—which results in a high amount of calories and fat.

As we get ready to watch the big game, many of us will be indulging in a nice hot bowl of chili. It certainly makes for a delicious cold-weather meal, but its nutrition can really vary depending on how it's prepared.

A serving of Progresso's Pork and Beef Chili with Beans contains 320 calories, 20 grams of fat, 35 percent of your daily saturated fat, and 670 mg of sodium—not what you would call healthy. My husband actually makes a delicious turkey chili with tomato sauce, onions, child powder, very little olive oil, and low-fat ground chili.  It is actually a healthy meal as long as we skip the chips and cornbread!

Also, be aware of soups with tons of cheese such as french onion soup or broccoli and cheddar. Finally, while potato soup sounds like it could be good for you, they are often not your best choice.

Potatoes are good sources of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, but in reality, potato soups are rarely a source of good nutrition. A big reason for this is that they're usually made with cream and frequently include not-so-healthy additions like bacon and cheese. 

Some canned and pre-made soups can be good choices if they are low-sodium or broth-based, but preparing soup is so easy, your best bet is making homemade soup. One of my favorites is to use low-sodium chicken broth mixed with chopped carrots, spinach, celery, or any other available vegetables.  If I add any meat, it will be shredded chicken or turkey meatballs, but it is not needed. It is a great way to get your veggies and warm your tummy on a cold winter day. In fact, I think I will go make some right now. Here 35 healthy soup recipes to get you started!

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