You can easily make homemade soup to warm you up during the colder months or just to help fill you up before your main meal so you don't consume too many calories. Most homemade soup recipes start with broth, such as vegetable broth. Although the store-bought version is the most convenient, it is often really high in sodium, so you might be better off making your own at home.
Calories and Macronutrients
Vegetable broth doesn't contain many calories. A 1-cup serving only provides 12 calories, all of which come from the 3 grams of carbohydrates it contains. Other types of broth have similar calorie counts, with each cup of chicken broth providing 12 calories and each cup of beef broth providing 17 calories. However, these meat-based broths each contain about 0.5 gram of fat, making vegetable broth the healthier option.
The main drawback to store-bought vegetable broth is that it is quite high in sodium. Each cup contains 940 milligrams, or 39 percent of the daily value for sodium. Chicken and beef broth are slightly lower in sodium, with chicken broth containing 860 milligrams and beef providing 893 milligrams. Look for a vegetable broth labeled "low sodium," as these broths can contain no more than 5 percent of the DV, or 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. Consuming too much sodium increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Although vegetable broth is made from vegetables, the end result isn't very high in vitamins. Each cup does provide you with 10 percent of the DV for vitamin A, which you need for healthy vision and immune function. Opting for another type of broth won't increase your vitamin intake much, either. Beef broth isn't particularly high in any vitamins, but a cup of chicken broth will help you boost your vitamin C intake with 27 percent of the DV. Vitamin C helps prevent cell damage from free radicals and is essential for forming collagen.
Making a Healthier Version
Your best bet is to take any vegetables you need to use up, as well as any vegetable scraps, and make your own vegetable broth. Just make sure not to include the green leafy tops of carrots or the skins of your onions, since this can make the end result bitter, according to Fine Cooking. When you make your own broth, you can greatly limit the salt you add or skip it altogether. Make sure to include onion, garlic and other herbs you like, such as parsley or thyme, to add flavor without sodium.