Chicken noodle soup has a special place in everybody’s heart. Whether you’re feeling sick or just need a taste of home, it’s a lovely, healthy option that’s jam-packed with nutrients. Chicken noodle soup has been a staple since time immemorial. Former New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton stated the case plainly by choosing a hat-tip of a title for her 1995 cookbook: The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup.
Every culture has its own version of the iconic dish. A version with matzo balls in it is often referred to as “Jewish Penicillin” — a bona fide cure-all for any condition from sinus congestion to heartache.
Chicken soup evokes a sort of connection to our innocent childhoods that other foods don’t necessarily have; we eat it to feel comforted and at ease. Whether we harken back to Grandma’s homemade broth or to our parents simply warming up a can of Campbell’s soup on the stove, a can of chicken noodle soup can quickly put us in touch with fond memories. But how are you supposed to indulge in a wave of nostalgia when there are too many brands to choose from?
We’ve solved that problem for you here at The Daily Meal and dissected every can of chicken soup we could find, taking into account the texture, color, quality of chicken, and noodle size… and after a long, drawn-out process of analysis we came up with the ultimate canned chicken noodle soup taste test.
Oh the shame of Healthy Valley. There was no seasoning to this soup, and our tasters deemed the appearance closely related to watery milk. The only redeeming factor to this flavorless, grey water was the bowtie noodles. And even that didn’t help it get more love than a D-minus from us. No thank you.
Well this was a surprise if there ever was one! Amy’s seems to have quite a loyal following so we were surprised to see that this soup had a strange, thick grey-brown color to it, the chicken “meat"—this is a vegan soup was a quite strange so, D is a generous score for ol’ Amy.
This soup made the classic mass-produced error: They gave you a mass amount of noodles and no broth, leaving us, the consumer feeling pretty unsatisfied. Annie’s gets a generous C for the watery, tasteless soup — which they tried to compensate for by filling nearly three quarters of the box with cheap noodles and no chicken. Thanks a lot. An appropriate Yelp review would just be a singular “going green” emoji.
This soup might work for someone who is very sick and has only Healthy Choice within easy reach. Healthy Choice gets a straight down the middle C-plus due to a pretty neutral broth. Interestingly enough, this was one of the better looking soups despite its below-average flavor.
Wholefoods 365 brand hit some average marks and earned a rickety C-plus. The good news is that there was a pretty decent amount of chicken in this soup, but the noodles completely fell apart and had an exceptionally slimy flavor. Additionally many of our tasters commented on the dryness of the chicken — a fact that’s difficult to explain seeing as it’s been sitting in broth.
This soup ranked among the lowest in attractiveness. Unless you’re interested in drinking grey, canal-colored water, this would not be our first choice. The noodles were very mushy and there was a strong bitter aftertaste that was quite repugnant. This soup was fortunate to score C-plus.
Campbell’s Chunky was among the favorites in our test. According to our experts, the noodles were excellent, the veggies weren’t overcooked, and the broth had a delicious herby flavor. There were mixed reviews but overall the feeling was positive and we gave it a hearty A-minus.
Wolfgang Puck’s name did not disappoint with this soup. There was a good balanced flavor, a nice amount of noodles and vegetables, as well as an edible amount of salt. We can’t complain with this solid choice; we gave it a happy A.
Good old Progresso pulled through once again with this excellent soup. It had lovely big chunks of chicken, perfectly cooked noodles, and a tasty broth. The only complaint our tasters made about this soup was its very bright (almost fake-looking) yellow color; other than that, Progresso gets a solid A.
This soup is the classic chicken noodle soup we all know and love, the one that gives you a little hint of nostalgia with each sip. Some even said it had a bit of a ramen flavor — and we’re into it! Campbell’s scored a solid A-plus, and we’re coming back for more.