If you’re wary of preservatives and artificial ingredients, you can now order any of Panera’s soups with confidence—in January, the fast-casual chain officially removed all artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives from its soups, part of a larger plan announced to “clean up” the entire menu by the end of 2016.
While we couldn’t be more pleased about this news, it doesn’t exactly address nutrition. Many soups look great in terms of calories and fat, but those watching sodium intake may want to exercise caution. Portion control will keep nutrition in check, so start with a cup of soup and pair it with a healthy half-salad or fruit to make it a meal.
To save big on saturated fat, avoid creamy chowders or cheese-based soups. Keep in mind that “vegetarian” doesn’t always mean healthy, either—just one cup of Vegetarian Summer Corn Chowder packs 8g of saturated fat! Lastly, the bread bowl may be tasty, but it’s not worth the massive additions in both calories and sodium.
Below are our picks for Panera’s healthiest soups and sides, but we encourage you to read the restaurant’s full nutrition information (available online) before visiting.
Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup (Cup)
Cal: 90 Fat: 1g Sat Fat: 0g Sodium: 740mg Sugars: 1g
Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto (Cup)
Cal: 80 Fat: 2g Sat Fat: 0g Sodium: 750mg Sugars: 5g
Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (Cup)
Cal: 180 Fat: 10g Sat Fat: 4.5g Sodium: 920mg Sugars: 1g
Half Seasonal Greens Salad (No Vinaigrette)
Cal: 90 Fat: 6g Sat Fat: 1g Sodium: 75mg Sugars: 7g
Fat Free Poppyseed Dressing (Half Portion)
Cal: 15 Fat: 0g Sat Fat: 0g Sodium: 45mg Sugars: 2g
Cal: 80 Fat: 0g Sat Fat: 0g Sodium: 21mg Sugars: 15g
All recommendations follow Cooking Light’s nutritional guidelines.