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The #1 Healthiest Soup at 10 Major Restaurant Chains

Dietitians say that slurping these restaurant chain soups will help promote your health and well-being.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

If you're looking for a light lunch option, your eyes may go directly to the soup and salad section of the menu. While soup can be a comforting, low-calorie, and nutrient-rich choice, that's not always the case. We scoured popular restaurant chain's menus and found plenty of unhealthy soup options loaded with saturated fat, sodium, and excess calories—everything you don't want in a healthy lunch.

When you're in the mood for a healthy and light soup, you'll want to be aware of five key nutrients:

  • Calories: If you intend soup to be an accompaniment to your meal and not the main course, choose a soup that has under 200 calories per serving. If you're enjoying soup as the main event, a higher calorie amount is ok.
  • Sodium: Restaurant soup is notoriously high in sodium. You'll have difficulty finding a soup option that has less than 20% of your daily value (DV) of sodium per cup, so just keep in mind that some soups can easily have over 75 to 100% of the recommended daily limit for sodium. The lower the better.
  • Saturated fat: Soup that is loaded with cheese, bacon, ham, or has a cream base can be excessively high in saturated fat. Try choosing soup that has a broth base or gets some of its creaminess from ingredients like potatoes instead of straight cream or cheese.
  • Fiber: Soup that is high in fiber will help you feel full and reach the recommended fiber goal of 14 grams per 1,000 calories. Soups that include beans and vegetables are more likely to be higher in fiber.
  • Protein: Protein from meat, beans, milk, and cheese can all help you to feel full, stay full for longer, and aid in essential body processes like muscle repair and hormone production.

To take the guesswork out of your order, we spoke with registered dietitians to find the healthiest soups at popular restaurant chains that they enjoy themselves and recommend to clients.

Panera's Turkey Chili

Panera Bread Turkey Chili
Panera Bread
Per bowl: 300 calories, 10 g fat (4.5 g sat fat), 690 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (14 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 21 g protein

"Turkey Chili is one of my favorites from Panera and a healthy and delicious option for anyone watching their carb, sodium, and fat intake," says Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD, a clinical dietitian. It's extra flavorful with an ancho and pasilla stock, is protein and fiber-rich with dark meat turkey, kidney beans, and chickpeas, and is packed with veggies like edamame, carrots, and tomatoes. One bowl of this hearty soup has 14 grams of fiber and 21 grams of protein for a filling and satisfying meal.

 Every Panera Soup—Ranked by Nutrition

Cracker Barrel's Turkey Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup
Per bowl: 250 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g sat fat), 1,290 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 32 g protein

"The Turkey Noodle Soup at Cracker Barrel is a good choice – it's low in calories and fat and provides 16 grams of protein per cup (or 32 grams per bowl)," says Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD. "Consider ordering the soup as a lower-calorie appetizer option before the meal or pair a bowl of soup with a salad for a nutritious lunch," Tyler adds. While this soup is low in calories and high in protein, it does have 56% of the DV for sodium, so be mindful of this if you're following a lower sodium diet and be sure to pair it with lower sodium options.

Olive Garden's Minestrone Soup

Olive garden soup
Olive Garden
Per serving: 110 calories, 1 g fat (0 g sat fat), 810 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (4 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 5 g protein

"Olive Garden's Minestrone Soup is a tasty and nutritious option, loaded with veggies and beans for essential nutrients," says Alyssa Simpson RDN, CGN, CLT, owner of Nutrition Resolution in Phoenix, AZ. "It's a low-calorie and low-fat choice compared to other soups on the menu, offering 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per 110-calorie serving," Simpson adds. This soup is also a good choice for people limiting their sodium intake. With just 810 milligrams of sodium or 35% DV, it's a much lower sodium option than many other restaurant soups.

Zoup!'s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Zoup!'s Chicken Tortilla Soup
Per cup: 120 calories, 2 g fat (0 g sat fat), 750 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 13 g protein

The Chicken Tortilla Soup at Zoup! Is packed with protein from roasted chicken and loaded up with veggies like chilis, red and green peppers, and corn. With only 120 calories, each cup has 13 grams of protein, no saturated fat, and only 33% DV of sodium, which is on the low end for this variety of soup.

 I Tried 6 Canned Chicken Noodle Soups & the Best Was Loaded with Meat & Veggies

McAlister's Deli Veggie Chili

McAlister's Deli
Per bowl: 270 calories, 3 g fat (0 g sat fat), 1,440 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (14 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 14 g protein

"I love the Veggie Chili from McAlister's Deli because it has a delicious balance of vegetables and plant-based protein," says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness based in Indianapolis, IN. A bowl of this chili has 14 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein for a vegetarian option that will leave you full and satisfied. Be mindful of the sodium, as each bowl has 62% DV of this nutrient.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at McAlister's Deli, According to Dietitians

Macaroni Grill's Tomato Basil Soup

Macaroni Grill's Tomato Basil Soup
Macaroni Grill
Per serving: 110 calories, 42 g fat (5 g sat fat), 670 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 2 g protein

"Macaroni Grill's Tomato Basil Soup has just 110 calories, and it packs 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and is rich in antioxidants like lycopene," says Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND, Owner of Soccer Mom Nutrition. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes that has a variety of positive effects on heart health, including lowering inflammation and improving blood lipids and blood pressure. While this soup isn't nutritionally robust enough for a meal on its own, it's a delicious nutrient boost to enjoy alongside a salad or entree.

PF Chang's Hot and Sour Soup

p.f. chang's hot & sour soup
P.F. Chang's
Per cup: 70 calories, 2 g fat (0 g sat fat), 580 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 4 g protein

PF Changs Hot and Sour Soup is a delicious low-calorie and low-fat way to start a meal, says Moushumi Mukherjee MS RDN. With broth, silken tofu, chicken, bamboo, and egg, each serving is loaded with rich flavor. Each cup serving has just 70 calories, no saturated fat, and only 25% DV of sodium. The tofu and egg also give you a small protein boost with 4 grams per cup.

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Outback Steakhouse's Tasmanian Chili

Outback Steakhouse tasmanian chili
Outback Steakhouse
Per cup: 200 calories, 14 g fat (6 g sat fat), 760 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 12 g protein

"For those steering clear of beans, Outback Steakhouse's Tasmanian Chili offers a unique twist on the classic, featuring tender steak bites instead of traditional ingredients," says Jessie Hulsey RD, LD, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian and creator of Health Down South. "This spicy soup provides a protein-packed punch, offering 12 grams of protein and 200 calories per cup," Hulsey adds.

Pret a Manger's Moroccan Lentil Soup

Pret a Manger's Moroccan Lentil Soup
Pret a Manger
Per 16-ounce serving: 390 calories, 17 g fat (3 g sat fat), 930 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (13 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 17 g protein

"Pret a Manger's Moroccan Lentil Soup is a great choice for those looking for a vegan or vegetarian option, says Claire Rifkin, MS, RDN, an NYC-based women's health dietitian and founder of the Telehealth private practice Claire Rifkin Nutrition. "It contains 13 grams of dietary fiber from lentils, aiding in satiety, and is notably low in sodium, making it a health-conscious choice," Rifkin adds.

 11 High-Fiber Lunches That Keep You Full

LongHorn Steakhouse's Shrimp and Lobster Chowder

LongHorn Steakhouse's Shrimp and Lobster Chowder
LongHorn Steakhouse
Per cup: 190 calories, 11 g fat (6 g sat fat), 570 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 8 g protein

"LongHorn Steakhouse's Shrimp and Lobster Chowder is a creamy indulgence at just 190 calories and 8g protein per cup," says Hulsey. "Packed with shrimp, lobster, corn, red bell peppers, and potatoes, it's a delicious option when looking for a comforting and satisfying side," Hulsey adds. These ingredients help this chowder taste rich without going overboard on sodium or saturated fat. Each serving has just 30% DV of saturated fat and 25% DV of sodium.

Kelsey Kunik, RDN
Kelsey Kunik is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, nutrition consultant, and sustainable food blogger. Read more about Kelsey
Sources referenced in this article
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