When the weather turns cool, a good old-fashioned bowl of soup can help you keep the chill away. Pea soup has provided a hearty, affordable and nutritious meal for generations. Full of protein and fiber, this vintage comfort food can easily become a part of your healthy lunch menu.
Split pea soups are made with yellow or green split peas; traditional recipes include ham. One cup of split pea soup contains 185 calories, 11 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat. Deleting the ham reduces the fat content to 2 grams per serving. Split pea soup also provides 4 grams of fiber, a plant material that promotes good digestion. For good health, eat 25 grams of fiber per day. If you use canned soup, check the label for sodium. A high-sodium diet can raise your blood pressure, so aim for less than 2,300 milligrams a day. One cup of regular canned split-pea soup has 722 milligrams of sodium, compared with 420 milligrams in reduced-sodium soup.
MyPlate, the food guide created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides a blueprint for building a healthy lunch. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. The other half should be grains and protein foods, such as meat, beans and seeds. Due to their high protein content, you can count split peas as a vegetable or a protein serving. A balanced lunch also includes a serving of dairy.
If your split pea soup contains ham, count the meat as a protein and the split peas as a vegetable. For balance, pair the soup with a whole-grain couscous, feta cheese and dried cranberry salad. With vegetarian soup, count the split peas as protein. Pair this soup with a whole-grain wrap stuffed with chopped vegetables, grapes and a little salad dressing. Enjoy your lunch with a glass of milk.
If split pea soup is your main course, fortify the recipe to make it a balanced lunch. Boost the vegetables by adding broccoli, carrots or corn. Throw in barley or brown rice for your grains. Instead of topping the soup with sour cream, use a scoop of plain Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of low-fat cheese. For dessert, enjoy a piece of your favorite fruit.
- USDA Choose MyPlate: Beans and Peas Are Unique Foods
- USDA Nutrient Database: Split Pea Soup with Ham, Canned, Chunky, Ready-to-serve
- USDA Nutrient Database: Reduced Sodium Split Pea Soup, Canned
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Boost Your Health With Fiber
- MayoClinic.com: How to Tame Your Salt Habit Now
Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.