Soup in a Breadbowl

The Power of Soup

Check out six ways soup can bring big benefits—and enjoy our menu recommendations to help you make a selection.

There is an old Yiddish saying, “Troubles are easier to take with soup than without.” And it’s true! “There’s something very nurturing about soup,” says Dan Kish, head chef at Panera Bread®. “It’s sort of in our DNA. People have consumed soup for hundreds of years. It’s one of the oldest types of food. Every culture in the world has some kind of soup. It’s a comfort food for just about everyone.” Soup offers plenty of fringe benefits, too, Dan says. Here we list a few along with some savory Panera soups that can help you achieve those advantages.

Fight off a cold

Can chicken-vegetable soup really help you feel better when you have a runny nose or congestion? Research says yes. Experts found that this combo helps reduce the inflammation that causes pesky cold symptoms. 

On the menu: Panera’s Low-Fat All-Natural Chicken Noodle and Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice provide equal parts comfort and flavor.

Lose postholiday pounds

“A cup of soup is a good, sensible choice, and it’s very satisfying,” Dan says. Studies show that having soup before your meal can also help you eat less overall.

On the menu: A You Pick Two® serving size of Panera’s Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable with Pesto or Black Bean soups is just 100 and 170 calories respectively. 

Get kids to eat veggies

Choosemyplate.gov, the USDA website that gives guidance on healthy eating, recommends sipping vegetable soup to increase your daily veggie intake. You can even sneak extra cooked or pureed veggies into kids’ favorite soups.

On the menu:  Low-Fat All-Natural Chicken Noodle is a go-to kid favorite. Kids also love dipping a Panera Grilled Cheese sandwich in Creamy Tomato. 

Boost fiber intake

Try soups made with whole grains, such as wild or brown rice or wheat pasta, if you’re worried you’re not eating enough fiber. Also choose whole grain crackers or a piece of Whole Grain baguette instead of white-flour sides. 

On the menu: Panera’s Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice contains both long grain and wild rice. Have a full serving (1 1/2 cups) with a Whole Grain baguette (2 ounces) and you’ll take in 6 grams of fiber.

Save money

Soups can be made with less-expensive cuts of meat or with beans. Using frozen, canned, or in-season veggies can also save you money. You can even incorporate leftovers if at week’s end you have, say, a serving of green beans, a half a can of corn, and some roasted chicken in the fridge.

On the menu: At Panera, a soup-and-salad or soup-and-sandwich combination from our You Pick Two selections makes for a good-for-you lunch or dinner. When Dan orders from the You Pick Two menu, he chooses the apple as his “side.” “I don’t eat it with the meal,” he says. “I tell myself I’ll eat it in two hours so I won’t snack on something sweet instead.” This strategy can also save you from spending extra cash on a mid-afternoon snack run. 

Cut down on fat

A hearty stew made with lean meat and lots of vegetables (or no meat at all) is typically lower in fat than a traditional meat-and-potatoes dinner. Choose a lean cut of meat or a low-fat source of protein such as beans or tofu. If you’d like, load the stew up with extra veggies, which add nutrients and not fat.  

On the menu: Panera’s Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable with Pesto has just 0.5 grams of saturated fat in 1 cup (the size of a You Pick Two serving).