Who Makes the Best Store-Bought Chicken Soup? Slideshow

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#10. Muir Glen Organic Reduced Sodium Chicken Noodle Soup
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#10. Muir Glen Organic Reduced Sodium Chicken Noodle Soup
Description

Score: 52.80%
Price/Size: $3.59/14.5 oz
Calories Per Serving (1 cup): 90
Sodium Per Serving: 480mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 2g

Muir Glen Organic Reduced Sodium Chicken Noodle Soup was the tasting's most expensive soup and was at the bottom of the pack in terms of calories (fifth highest), sodium (seventh), and fat per serving (fifth). It was also the soup least liked by the panel.

“The broth has a sweet, almost gingery taste,” someone noted. “Mushy noodles and vegetables. Not sure what it tastes like, but it’s not chicken.” There were many similar comments. The gray meat was described as “super gross,” dry, and resembling cat food or tofu. The carrots disintegrated into a "weird broth" that had a medicinal smell, strange spice blend, and a slightly “off” taste. “What is going on with this soup?” a panelist asked. Comment of the day? “I had a weird tasting carrot (you know, new-car smell, but in a bad way? Cheap new-car smell…) Wait, the broth is like that, too.”

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#9. Healthy Choice Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
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#9. Healthy Choice Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
Description

Score: 55%
Price/Size: $3.19/15 oz
Calories Per Serving (1 cup): 80
Sodium Per Serving: 480mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 2.5g

Healthy Choice Organic Chicken Noodle Soup was another of the healthier soups, sixth-highest in calories, tied for seventh-lowest (with Muir Glen) on the list in terms of sodium, and fourth in fat. None of that helped. The panel's comments, straight up:

"Chicken is stiff and tasteless. The broth is thick and cloudy and has a weird taste. Almost too umami-ish. The vegetable is better than others, though."

"Awful."

"There's no salt at all, though some decent debris. HORRIBLE. No salt. No body. No flavor. MUSH! MUSH!"

"Watery."

"Watery, low salt, smelly, gross chicken."

"Awful. There's an almost sour aftertaste. Fat-covered chicken. GROSS."

"Terrible. Tastes off. Metallic. #FAIL"

"Broth — all chemicals and no chicken flavor? Hmm. Well, least salty. What’s up with that cough medicine aftertaste? Did not finish."

"Really? After all the salt-laden soup, this one is bland and tasteless. It doesn’t even taste like anything natural. Gross."

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#8. Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Condensed Soup
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#8. Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Condensed Soup
Description

Score:  58%
Price/Size: $1.69/10.75 oz
Calories Per Serving (½ cup): 60
Sodium Per Serving: 890mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 2g

Free-associate with Campbell’s iconic red-and-white cans and you probably think about a lot of things you’re pretty OK with — memories of shopping with your folks when you were a kid, grandma making you an after-school meal with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. Hey, Andy Warhol was kind of a hack, but he wasn’t all bad. But the soup… man, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Condensed Soup is oily, and just not very good.

It was on the low end of the list in terms of calories (tied for seventh with Lipton) and fat (tied for fifth with Progresso's 99% and Muir Glen), but third-highest in terms of sodium. And that showed in the tasting. Panelists found it very, very, salty — salty like the sea salty. (It had the third-highest amount of sodium on the list.) “SALTY! Damn. Mushy spaghetti noodles.” Another panelist asked innocently, “Where is the chicken?” Another summed things up pretty well: “It’s like chicken-flavored pasta water. I guess it’s the opposite of hospital food. Just fix the salt and it would be ‘D.’”

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#7. Lipton Soup Secrets Chicken Noodle Soup Mix
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#7. Lipton Soup Secrets Chicken Noodle Soup Mix
Description

Score: 64%
Price/Size: $1.89/4.5 oz
Calories Per Serving (2 tbsp): 60
Sodium Per Serving: 670mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 1g


Lipton Soup Secrets Chicken Noodle Soup Mix ranked at the bottom of the list for calories (tied for seventh with Campbell's Condensed Soup) and sodium (fifth) and had the least amount of fat of any soup in the tasting.

The parsley-flecked, salty broth in the Lipton Soup Secrets Chicken Noodle Soup Mix has a scary, fake, bright yellow color, an oily coating, and there's no vegetables or chicken in the soup. The noodles are short, slippery, and thin. Mom always said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Well, Mom, we can't quite do that, but we'll leave off on the sole positive panelist comment: "There's no off flavor. There's no chicken. And the noodles are mushy but acceptable."

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#6. Cup Noodles Chicken Flavor
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#6. Cup Noodles Chicken Flavor
Description

Score: 64.70%
Price/Size: $.25/2.25 oz
Calories Per Serving (1 container): 296
Sodium Per Serving: 1434mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 14g

Cup Noodles Chicken Flavor had more calories, sodium, and fat than any other soup on the list, doubling and almost tripling amounts of several soups, making it odd that the broth was unanimously described as watery and bland.

"Corn?" asked the panelists. Corn is creepy, especially in chicken soup. Corn was the least of the panelists concerns when it came to Cup Noodles Chicken Flavor. There was one positive comment: "It's good for what it is — a cheap, college classic, but you know it's not healthy."  From there, things got bad. Comments were terse and disapproving. The noodles as awful and springy. "What can you expect for $.25?" you're asking. Well, the second-highest rated soup cost just 14 cents more. The scary thing is that this ranked higher, if not by much, than four other soups, several canned. Yikes.

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#5. Progresso Rich & Hearty Chicken and Homestyle Noodle Soup
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#5. Progresso Rich & Hearty Chicken and Homestyle Noodle Soup
Description

Score: 65.70%
Price/Size: $2.99/19 oz
Calories Per Serving (1 cup): 110
Sodium Per Serving: 690mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 2.5g

Progresso has been around for more than 100 years. It was started by a young Sicilian named Vincent Taormina who imported foods from Italy for Italian-Americans with a hankering. You’d think they’d have learned how to make a decent chicken soup, right? Panelists comments about Progresso Rich & Hearty Chicken and Homestyle Noodle Soup indicate otherwise. The soup was in the middle of the pack in terms of calories (third), sodium (tied for fourth with the other two Progresso soups), and fat (tied for fourth with Progresso Chicken Noodle and Healthy Choice), and that mediocrity registered with its scores.

The most positive thing anyone could say about it was that they liked seeing herbs, vegetables were the most pretty cuts of any soup tested, and that the salt level was “tolerable.” The broth’s texture was the most disturbing factor. Panelists called it “viscous,” “slimy,” “very unpleasant,” and “almost gelatinous.” One noted that the “smell reminds me a bit of tuna.” When chicken soup smells like tuna, well, that says it all. Vinnie… help.

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#4. Progresso 99% Fat-Free Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup
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#4. Progresso 99% Fat-Free Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup
Description

Score:  67%
Price/Size: $2.99/19 oz
Calories Per Serving (1 cup): 90
Sodium Per Serving: 670mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 2g

“I see carrots,” one panelist noted of Progresso 99% Fat-Free Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup. Annnd, this is where things start to go really bad for the best of the store-bought soups. This one was at the bottom of the list for calories (tied with Muir Glen at fifth), salt (sixth), and fat (fifth).

There was an abundance of carrots, and the noodles were firmer than those in most of the other soups sampled. Chicken was the subject of some debate. One panelist found it was super dry. Someone else found it “slightly chewy and had cartilage.” But another called it the best chicken of all.  Either way, the observations above were about the only positive things said about Progresso’s 99% Fat-Free Chicken Noodle Soup. Why? “The carrots were like baby food.” Panelists noted an odd flavor characterized as tanginess, sweetness, and an “even stranger canned soup taste.” That doesn’t even go into the broth’s texture, which was described as creamy and gummy.

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#3. Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup
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#3. Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup
Description

Score: 70.80%
Price/Size: $2.99/19 oz
Calories Per Serving (1 cup): 100
Sodium Per Serving: 690mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 2.5g

Of the three top chicken soups tested, Progresso's Chicken Noodle was described as one of the most natural tasting and looking. It ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of calories, sodium, and fat, coming in at fourth on the list in all categories (tied with Progresso Rich & Hearty for sodium and fat, and with Healthy Choice for fat).

The broth was a little thicker than the others, its flavor more complex, with a nice herbal flavor. Generally, the panel found the soup to have a more acceptable level of salt — enough to give the soup flavor without being overwhelming. Big pieces of vegetables (carrot and celery) definitely registered a presence, but not for much positive effect. They were described by several panelists as mushy and disgusting, resembling the texture of vegetables found on the bottom of the pot after cooking a stock for hours. Other adjectives used to describe the soup? Slimy, tangy, with a bitter finish, rubbery chicken, and extra mushy noodles. Think it can't get worse? One panelist said it all: "Hospital chicken turns to mush food."

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#2. Nissin Top Ramen Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup Mix
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#2. Nissin Top Ramen Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup Mix
Description

Score: 72%
Price/Size: $.39/3 3-oz packs
Calories Per Serving (1.5 oz): 190
Sodium Per Serving: 910mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 7g

Is it fair to include ramen in a chicken soup tasting? It was a hot topic debated among The Daily Meals eight designated panelists. Ramen is not, after all, chicken soup in the classic sense. There's absolutely no chicken meat or vegetables in it, for one. The flavoring (which one panelist said didn't even taste like chicken, and another said had a chemical/artificial aftertaste) comes from powder inside a square foil packet. And half the panelists described it as salty. But none of this had a negative effect on the panelists' scores for Nissin Top Ramen Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup Mix, which tied the number one soup in this tasting in all categories at second-most calories, sodium, and fat.

This 39-cent packet of college recall scored the ranking of second-best chicken soup on the list. "Tastes like childhood!" one panelist exclaimed. "Please add a poached egg and I'm good." Call it nostalgia, call it late-night salvation for college freshmen everywhere, call it a blank canvas for all the leftovers in the dorm kitchen, in this taste test you have to call it a hit. "I feel the MSG and I kind of like it." Indeed.

Credit

Jane Bruce

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#1. Campbell’s Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
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#1. Campbell’s Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
Description

Score: 72%
Price/Size: $.39/3 3-oz packs
Calories Per Serving (1.5 oz): 190
Sodium Per Serving: 910mg
Total Fat Per Serving: 7g

Most found the soup’s broth to have decent, natural flavor, if a little oily and unuanced. The salt level was acceptable or a bit salty; the chicken, large if fatty; and the noodles firmer than average. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, no. And one panelist even found there to be “a chemical taste.” But there were some outright positive things said, adjectives like "natural," "flavorful," and what has to be the best comment of all: “Good canned-soup flavor.”

Credit

Jane Bruce