Why does reduced-sodium soup taste like crap?

I eat a decent amount of soup. It’s a cheap, easy meal when I don’t feel like cooking, and living in a part of Florida that just a couple of years ago got a hurricane every freakin’ weekend, having canned food on hand is a good idea. And if you buy the right soup, it can actually be pretty good for you.

Except for the sodium. I’ll eat a whole can of soup as a meal, and it’ll have 2-300 calories tops, maybe 3 grams of fat. But it will have 70% of your daily sodium intake! I just bought some low-sodium soups, but

they taste like shit. What gives? I’m eating some chips right now that have 7% of my RDA of sodium, and they’re a hell of a lot saltier than these soups with 18%.

Is all soup full of sodium? When I make onion soup or chicken soup, is it really bad for me? Is it just canned soup? Does the fancy soup-in-a-box have so much sodium? If I throw a bunch of salt in the low-sodium soup so it tastes better, does it negate the low-sodium-ness?

Instead of adding salt, why not try adding other spices to the low-sodium soups? Garlic, oregano, pepper, whatever goes with the type of soup. (My doctor gave me a list of alternate spices, but I left it in the car. I just put garlic in everything.)

Have you talked to your MD? Becuase sodium isn’t really bad for most dudes. But for some it is, so what does your Doc say?

Canned soup (and many canned foods) have a lot of salt in them because salt helps mask off-flavors that develop when the food is heated to very high temperatures during the canning process.

The extra salt especially helps in “cream” based soups like Cream of X which can become bitter when processed. For soups like Chicken Noodle, I’m not sure if the salt is there to mask any off-flavors or just because all the other soups are so salty they salt it heavily for consistency.

It doesn’t taste like crap, IMO. The salted soups taste like crap due to their salt content (or should I say, “crap on a cracker?” :))

Now, low-sodium soy sauce OTOH – what’s the point? Then again regular soy sauce does go overboard – if I ever go to a place that has both I’ll try adding a bit of both to my plate and see what happens.

They should make a splenda-like salt substitute.

Really? I like the flavor of low-sodium soy sauce better! I’m pretty sure that the guys from Cooks Illustrated preferred low-sodium as well - but I can’t remember exactly. (Their website requires registration - if anybody has a login and wants to check, link here. )

ETA: oh, and brickbacon? They do make low-sodium salt substitutes. NuSalt, NoSalt… those are a couple of brands I can think of off the top of my head.

Reduced salt soup tastes pretty bad usually because soup is supposed to be salty. Nearly all traditional soups have some salt in them, and our mind associates soup with a savory salty taste.

Canned soups ramp up the sodium, making the problem quite a bit worse.

Homemade soup will taste quite nice while using less salt in the process. It also is a cheap easy meal, especially if you make it in advance and freeze or can the portions. Try it and see.

I have seen “sodium-less” salt for sale before, I guess designed for people who need a low-sodium diet. Instead of being sodium chloride, it’s potassium chloride.

Now, I imagine if you’re on a low sodium diet, it’s because of either blood pressure, or kidney problems, yes? Potassium, to my knowledge, can raise your BP and has to be filtered out by the kidney just like sodium (well, not JUST like sodium, but the kidney’s still doing some work.) So is this “salt-less” salt really any better? Also, I don’t think it tastes quite like real salt, either.

Even with the added sodium, app. 1 in 5 cans of store brand cream soups I buy taste a bit off.

I’m not on a low-sodium diet. I’m 25, in good health, with fairly low blood pressure. I just decided at the age of 12 that if I continued eating as much sodium as I did (I used to eat the salt at the bottom of pretzel bags) I’d be on my way to an early grave.

I’ve analyzed my diet at www.mypyramid.gov and I have a very good diet usually. The only problem is my sodium intake- because of the canned soup.

It just stinks that soup is generally good for you (broth-based soups, not those Cream of Whatevers, though they are good for cooking) except for the sodium content. The low-sodium soups, in addition to lacking enough salt, do have a weird taste that isn’t simply due to sodium content. I guess it’s the odd flavors from the canning process.

I do make my own soups occasionally, though not at much as I used to. They tend to go bad quickly, and I have limited freezer space.

Or not. * See your MD*, and confirm whether or not a more or less normal “high” sodium intake is in any way a health danger for you.

Just FYI, I am twice your age, and my Doc has no concerns whatsoever about my sodium intake. *Calorie *intake, yes, but not sodium. :smiley:

I use salt substitute at home, but I have to say it doesn’t do much. The shaking it on has some sort of placebo effect but tastewise it’s nothing like salt. (Then again, I add it to frozen dinners which already have plenty o’ sodium.)

OK, this is kind of freaky. I did the same thing at the same age! My grandmother had high blood pressure, and I found out that salt can cause blood pressure problems. I figured I’d have to quit someday and thought it would be easier at 12 then after another 50 years of eating salt by the handful (literally). I haven’t salted anything since. (OK, I’ve recently been pressured into salting pasta water, but that’s it.) I rarely salt when cooking and almost never salt food at the table.

Nonetheless, low-sodium canned soup tastes like crap!

Campbell’s has a Healthy Request line (I think that’s the name) that is Lower sodium (I hesitate to say “low”). Being canned and mainstream, it still has more sodium than is particularly healthy, but I don’t think the taste suffers and it is a suitable compromise.

part of the reason is the LACK of other spices in the soups.

when I make a soup at home it has some salt in it. definitly no where near what you find in store bought crap but it also has garlic, crushed red peppers, basil, pepper, and whatever else seems appropriate at the time.

wonder how hard it would be to can your own soup instead of just freeze it?

The reason low sodium soup tastes bad is because they substitute potassium chloride for sodium chloride. Potassium chloride tastes bitter. Just buy a tube of lite salt, pour a little in your hand and taste it. It is terrible. If you are a cook or like to cook it will make everything you cook taste bad. This is the correct answer to your question.

The problem is, for those of us with kidney problems, potassium is just as bad as sodium.

If I’m eating canned soup, a good solution is to mix a can of regular with a can of low-salt. But usually I cook my own, experimenting with various spices, plus lots of garlic and onion.

I think it is useful to separate the level of sodium in processed foods from salt added in cooking or at the table. I couldn’t find a perfect cite, but this one does contain meaningful discussion.

The money quote for me is:

“Salt added during cooking and at the table only accounted for 5–6% of daily sodium intake.”

My takeaway from this is - you’ll be much better of to buy low sodium products and add salt for taste.

May I suggest Trader Joes organic tomato soup? They have two varieties: Creamy and Roasted Red Pepper. Both are good, I like the red pepper a little better. Don’t worry, there are no chunks of pepper in it and it is not “hot.”

It has 140 mg of sodium per cup. It comes in a paperboard square container. They have both organic and inorganic varieties, but the inorganic have an insane amount of sodium. They also have chicken and vegetable, but I’ve never tried either.

I agree that most low-sodium soup I’ve tried tastes pretty bad, but I assure you this stuff is really good. And most other “healthy” soups don’t have anywhere near this little sodium. I like to cut up some vegetables like tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and/or bell peppers and pour the soup over them in a bowl and then heat in the microwave. Or the soup is just fine as is.