Taste Test: Canned Chicken Noodle Soup

by in Taste Test, March 18, 2010

Canned Chicken Noodle Soup
I stopped eating canned soups years ago because, really, who needed all that sodium? Nowadays, there are many low-sodium varieties and they can be handy when you need a fast fix. We tested some of the most popular chicken noodle soups — see how they ranked.

Soups On!
We’ll be honest — homemade is the only way to go, but sometimes you need a convenient pick. For consistency, we tested low- or reduced-sodium varieties of plain old chicken noodle soup. Each was scored from 1 through 5 (5 being the highest) based on flavor, ingredients and nutrition info. We paid especially close attention to the sodium amounts. The daily recommendation for sodium is 2,300 milligrams (and more like 1,500 milligrams per day if you have high blood pressure). That means a soup with 470 milligrams of sodium contains about 20% of the daily recommendation (or 30% if your target is 1,500).

Prices ranged from $1.25 to $1.50 per serving. All cans indicated that they served “about 2” but ranged in size from 14.5 to 18.5 ounces, so the bigger cans give you a bit more for your money.

Campbell’s Chunky Healthy Request Chicken Noodle
Rating: 2
Nutrition Info (per 1 cup serving): 120 calories; 2.5 grams fat; 410 milligrams sodium
Our Take: While it looked very appetizing, the flavor didn’t deliver. “Blech” was how one of our tasters described it. The long list of ingredients was also a turn off — what exactly is an “enriched egg white noodle product”?

Progresso Reduced Sodium Chicken Noodle
Rating: 3
Nutrition Info (per 1 cup serving): 90 calories; 2 grams fat; 470 milligrams sodium
Our Take: Like the previous one, this soup looked tasty too. The noodles were nice and firm, but it was bland — not enough chicken flavor going on. You might be able to use this as a base and boost it with added veggies or chicken chunks.

Muir Glen Organic Reduced Sodium Chicken Soup
Rating: 4
Nutrition Info (per 1 cup serving): 90 calories; 2 grams fat; 470 milligrams sodium
Our Take: This is your best bet for a canned chicken soup — it has nice big chunks of chicken and veggies. While it was kind of boring in the flavor department, overall it was the favorite.

Campbell’s Select Harvest Healthy Request Chicken With Whole Grain Pasta
Rating: 2.5
Nutrition Info (per 1 cup serving): 100 calories; 2 grams fat; 410 milligrams sodium
Our Take: Here’s another one from Campbell’s. We appreciated the addition of whole grains but it wasn’t enough to like this soup. The veggie and chicken chunks were on the small side and there was an unpleasant tangy flavor that we couldn’t quite figure out. The ingredient list indicated that it contains a small amount of milk, which might make it a no-no for those with allergies.

Health Valley No Salt Added Organic Chicken Noodle
Rating: 3.5
Nutrition Info (per 1 cup serving): 80 calories; 2.5 grams fat; 135 milligrams sodium
Our Take: We had to check this one out because it had a third of the sodium the others contain. Like the rest, it was on the bland side, but surprisingly didn’t taste much different than some of the other saltier brands. It’s made with lots of organic veggies, but the first ingredient is water — the other soups are made mostly from chicken broth.

Quick Tip: Canned soups can be helpful in a pinch but, honestly, nothing beats homemade — plus, then you can control the amount of salt. Make a big pot of homemade stock and prep batches of homemade soups to store in the freezer for when you need a convenient dinner choice.

TELL US: What’s your favorite canned soup? Any other flavors of soup you’d like us to taste test?

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Comments (37)

  1. julo says:

    I really like the Amy's variety. I get the organic low sodium soups, usually the lentil and vegetable or black bean and vegetable. The curry lentil is good too. They are high in protein and fiber, and fill me up nicely! They're also tasty. Definitely don't blow my socks off, but a great quick, cheap, easy, healthy, relatively delicious meal!

  2. I am most familiar with Campbell’s version of chicken noodle soup but I see it has a rating of maximum 2.5. On the contrary Muir Glen Organic Reduced Sodium Chicken Soup has 4. So it is a matter of ingredients and their nutritional value. This tells consumers and food watchers that commercials may not be everything. In the commentary, Muir Glen may not do well with flavor but it is seemingly better.

  3. Sommer J says:

    canned soup is flavorless in my opinion. I make my own. I have a huge stock of….homemade chicken stock in my fridge just for soups (and other uses). I control the salt, and I add my own bits of flavor.

  4. Soup Lover says:

    Nothing beats homemade, but, it's too bad you didn't taste-test Healthy Choice's chicken noodle! In my opinion it's the best canned soup option and it doesn't taste like the can!

    Soup Lover

  5. Navarre Plum says:

    Nothing will top Campbell's red label chicken noodle when your not well! I skim the top of the fat that
    rises when the can is cold & use just half can of water. The flavor is great and not worth changing to
    blah for the very few times i eat this.

  6. Dede Speight says:

    I like the Muir Glen best but it does have too much celery.

  7. Barbara says:

    I think Progresso Chicken with Wild Rice is the best canned soup but I can make a batch of homemade lentil in no time.

  8. Pat Garcia says:

    Progresso Chicken Gumbo – yum

  9. Carole Magid-Green says:

    can you test Italian wedding soup? That's my favorite.

    Carole

  10. guest says:

    Because of MSG in most canned soup I do not buy it I make my own.

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