By Lauren Duffy
When we think of the UMass Dining Commons, we commonly think of the pizza station, the main line, the salads, the pastas, etc. But each dining common has a little station that most of us seem to forget about: the soup station. All four of the Dining Commons have one, and they offer several different kinds of soups every week. Berkshire’s soup station is located at the end of the salad bar (towards the TV), Hampshire’s is at either end of it’s salad bar, Franklin’s is near the Deli, and Worcester’s is between the bread and the salad bar. If you’re fighting a cold or it’s just a chilly Amherst day, the soup station is sometimes the perfect place to pay a visit. But, as usual, sticking to healthy choices can sometimes be a challenge.
There are two different kinds of soups offered each day, and the soups always change daily. I’ve seen so many different kinds of soups offered: Italian Wedding, Clam Chowder, Chicken Noodle, Minestrone, Broccoli Cheddar; you name it, they’ve offered it. To be honest, it’s sometimes alarming to see how many calories and how much fat can be in some of these soups (according to the Nutrition cards). But on a brighter note, it’s actually relatively easy to determine which soup will stay true to your diet. Let me break it down:
- The Chowders, etc.
- I have personal rule that I try to follow when it comes to choosing certain foods; it applies to sauces, salad dressings, and soups of all kinds. The general rule is: If you can’t see through it, it’s probably not a good choice. What I mean is, you simply need to avoid anything that looks creamy. You’ll notice that DC soups such as Corn Chowder, Clam Chowder, Cheddar Broccoli, etc., are very creamy and therefore they are high in fat content. The cream adds extra fat and calories that can really add up, so you’re better off just avoiding the creamy options all together.
- The Clear Broths:
- Soups with a clearer broth are almost always a good option to choose at the soup stations. The soups that the DCs offer with clear broths are Minestrone, (homemade) Chicken Noodle, Italian Wedding, Tomato Tortellini, and a few others. Of course I don’t mean that these broths are completely clear, but they’re not thick and creamy like the aforementioned ones. They’re a lot healthier because they’re lighter, packed with veggies, and low in fat. What I like about these soups is that when you’re ladling them into your bowl, you can essentially choose what you want in your soup. For example, you can go heavy on the veggies and broth, and light on the noodles to cut out some excess carbs.
- I am not sure whether or not the previously mentioned soups are homemade by the DCs, but I do know that sometimes they serve Campbell’s brand soups. I know this because they will tell you if it’s a Campbell’s soup right on those small Nutrition cards that they put next to the soups at the stations. Let me put this simply: if you see a soup that says it’s Campbell’s, walk away. Campbell’s is famous for it’s red label and it’s “mmm mmm good” slogan, but it’s also very famous for the amount of sodium found in the soups. The DC’s offer Campbell’s condensed Tomato and Chicken Noodle soups, and they always seem to be popular choices by students. But keep in mind that even though these soups may remind us of our childhoods, they can also make us bloat from their extremely unhealthy and excessive amounts of sodium. So.. beware of Campbell’s!
- Next to each soup station there are always little packages of Oyster crackers or Saltine cracker packets. Even though adding these to your soup may add some extra carbs, just go for it– one pack of these won’t undo your day. Sometimes adding a little crunch to your soup is the best part! :)
As much as there are plenty of bad choices offered at the soup sections of the UMass DC’s, there are also plenty of opportunities to choose a healthy soup that will follow your diet. You just have to know how to choose the right one! Be experimental with the soups and try something new! Bon Appétit!
Try our soups: