Hot soups for cold days

February 8, 2024 at 10:50 a.m.
Not only are homemade soups low in salt, but they can be a great way to add a meatless meal to your week’s repertoire.
Not only are homemade soups low in salt, but they can be a great way to add a meatless meal to your week’s repertoire. Katy G. Wilkens

By Katy Wilkens 

Soup is a great way to spark up a dreary winter day, and if you make it yourself you can freeze it for a quick meal when you’re in a hurry.  

Most canned soups have more salt in one serving than you should have for an entire day. Too much salt is a big problem with packaged and processed foods. The sodium in salt is hard on our heart, blood vessels and kidneys.

Not only are homemade soups low in salt, but they can be a great way to add a meatless meal to your week’s repertoire. Experts think we overwork our kidneys by eating too much protein as well as too much salt. Many Americans eat more than three times the amount of protein they need, so a meatless meal or two a week in your regular pattern will help “rest” your kidneys too.

Try the following soup recipes. They’re super great for your kidneys and overall health.    


Homemade Vegetable Soup


2-3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, purchased or homemade, or water


2 tablespoons oil


1 chopped onion


3 cloves garlic


1 can low-sodium tomatoes


1 tablespoon fresh thyme


1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped


Rind of Parmesan cheese if you have it


About 2-3 cups leftover or frozen vegetables; peas, corn, carrots, cauliflower, cubed potatoes


2 cups rice or noodles or low-sodium canned black beans


Sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms in oil until caramelized and nicely brown. Add water and tomatoes. If too thick, add more water. Add Parmesan rind and stir occasionally to keep from sticking. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the leftover vegetables, rice, noodles or canned beans 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Nutritional Information:

Makes about 8 one-cup servings, depending on the amount and type of vegetables added. 

Calories: 123, Carbohydrates: 19 grams, Protein: 3 grams, Sodium: 39 milligrams


Three Sisters Soup

½ cup dried white beans* 

½ cup dried pinto beans*


½ cup red beans*


2 cups frozen corn


¼ cup olive oil


1 onion, diced


2-3 cloves garlic, minced


3 celery ribs, chopped


¼ cup minced fresh parsley


2-3 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes


½ cup roasted pumpkin or squash seeds or pepitas


½ teaspoon black pepper


¼ teaspoon red pepper


*You may substitute with canned low sodium beans; about 1 can equals half cup of dried beans.


Combine all beans in large pot. Add about 5 cups of water and soak overnight. (Or use canned low sodium beans.) Simmer beans in soaking water, until soft, about 2 hours. Add black and red pepper when beans are almost tender. In a large skillet, heat oil, add onion, garlic, celery, and parsley and cook until tender. Add corn and tomatoes and cook until heated. Add corn and tomato mixture to beans and serve with squash or pumpkin seeds and Mexican crema or sour cream to garnish.



Nutrition Information (6 servings):

Calories: 280, Carbohydrates: 27 grams, Protein: 10 grams, Sodium: 43 milligrams

[Katy G. Wilkens recently retired as registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards for excellence in education and for significant contributions in renal nutrition. She has also been awarded the Medal of Excellence in kidney nutrition from the American Association of Kidney Patients.]


Eating Well, Living Well classes


Studies show that working with a registered dietitian can delay kidney failure and postpone dialysis for longer than two years. FREE nutrition classes taught by Katy’s former team of registered dietitians are available at convenient times and locations around Puget Sound.


Eating Well, Living Well classes teach people how to eat healthier to slow the progress of kidney disease and postpone dialysis. Learn more at


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