There’s nothing as comforting as a warm bowl of soup on a blustery day, especially when you dine out. But while warming up with a steaming bowl of soup, it’s important to consider how good it is for your body, too.

Restaurant soups are notoriously high in sodium. In fact, some options contain more than four days’ worth! While that’s not the norm, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant soup that could be considered low in sodium. Nevertheless, a steaming serving of soup at your favorite restaurant can fit into a balanced eating plan once in a while.

Creamy and cheesy soups aren’t the best choices if you’re concerned about saturated fat. Depending on the serving size, a portion of cream-based soup can contain about a day’s worth of saturated fat. Clear, broth-based vegetable soups are usually a safer choice.

Keep the following in mind before you order your next bowl of soup:

— Keep it small. If you have a choice, order the smallest size available. This will help keep the sodium content to a more reasonable level.

— Know what’s inside. Apart from concerns about sodium and fat, soups can be a great source of fiber and nutrients. Choose soups filled with beans, vegetables and lean protein sources to maximize the nutritional benefits.

— Round it out. Some soups are low in carbs, some in protein, and still others in veggies. Consider rounding out your meal by pairing soup with a salad, or half a sandwich with whole grain bread and lean protein, and fruit on the side to provide the nutrients you’re missing.

— Skip these unnecessary extras. A sprinkle of cheese, bacon, tortilla strips or pie-crust crumbles will increase the saturated fat and sodium content of your meal.

Heidi McIndoo, M.S., R.D.,  Environmental Newsletter