Don’t we all just love to cozy up on a cold winter’s day – or a crazy cool late August day here in Northeast Kansas (!) – with a warm bowl of soup? Nothing else really hits the spot the way a bowl of chicken and noodles or cream and tomatoes can. Even a sweet, televised snowman can’t resist the wafting fragrance, slurping down a warm bowl of broth to his own peril. Nowadays, canned soups make for a quick, light meal – and a dish in a microwave for 2 1/2 minutes won’t provide that wafting aroma that attracts melty, suicidal balls of walking snow to your doorstep.
Before you eagerly head out to grab a can of soup, you should consider one tiny little mineral that makes a big difference to your heart’s health: salt. In the United States, processed foods account for three-quarters of our daily sodium intake, and often puts us well over our daily recommended amount. Canned soup – and if you are using canned broths for recipes – often means that in a single serving, you are slurping down nearly 50% of your maximum salt allotment for an entire day.
Following is a recipe for a sodium-laden canned chicken broth, with salt ranking third on the ingredient list directly behind “chicken flavor”:
INGREDIENTS: Chicken Stock, Chicken Flavor (Maltodextrin, Water, Dextrose, Salt, Chicken Flavor [Chicken Stock, Salt, Enzymes]Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Chicken Fat, Modified Food Starch, Ascorbic Acid, Sugar, Rosemary Extract)Salt, Dextrose, Spice Extract, Carrots, Celery, Flavoring, Onions. Water, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Soy Lecithin, Citric Acid.
1. Raise, slaughter, and process millions of chickens without letting them see the sun once. The horrors of the modern, conventional chicken industry are too many to cover in this blog (but fear not, it will be discussed shortly!). To make a long, gruesome story short (and PG), chickens these days are raised in long, sunless houses where they are packed so tightly they can hardly move. Their short lives are spent eating grain (and nothing else, like tasty bugs or greens) and becoming morbidly obese before they are killed in a factory, processed into their parts, and packaged for sale across the country. The creation of chicken stock is, never fear, a highly scientific process, where studies have been done to see what leftover parts of the chicken – after the more valuable pieces have been removed and processed – make a broth decent enough to sell. In other words, the broth sold in cans is nothing more than a by-product that has been scientifically reduced in quality to the lowest tolerable point.
2. Add water and fake chicken flavor. This liquid by-product is then thinned with water to remain a cost-effective by-product, if not a tasty one. The flavor of the broth really comes from the “chicken flavor” (which I thought chicken broth was supposed to be, by definition, but who am I to say?) which is primarily salt, sugar, and an assortment of artificial extracts that mimic the real chicken flavor the broth itself does not contain.
3. Add salt to cover up the fakeness. The third, and arguably most important, ingredient in this recipe is the salt. Salt brings out flavors, and since this broth contains so few of them, it is imperative that a high level of sodium be maintained to keep the missing tastes of real chicken and vegetables from being noticed. So important is salt to the processed food industry, the Salt Institute was created to lobby on behalf of the salt and processed food industries. This group has played an important role in creating a so-called fog of confusion around the true health links between sodium intake, blood pressure levels, and risk of atherosclerosis. A quick perusal of the Salt Institute’s website will make you feel as if eating more salt is the same as finding the Fountain of Youth.
4. Preserve the freshness of the fakeness. Salt is a natural preservative – and this broth contains a high enough concentration of sodium to be considered more of a brine than a broth – yet the standard list of corn and petroleum-based preservatives are added just to be safe…. for approximately twenty-odd years or so.
5. Can it, label it, ship it, sell it. Canned soups have become a staple in many pantries, and canned broths can greatly reduce the amount of cooking time required for a (salty) gravy. Plus, no one really has the natural fats from roasting a whole chicken to make gravy anymore – so instead the boneless white chicken breasts are baked and the by-product from their deboning is heated to create the sauce to put over them. Mmm-mmm good.
EAT OUTSIDE THE BOX! Make your own homemade stock from leftover veggies and bones – the ultimate way to reduce your waste and you risk for heart disease with one easy recipe!