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. guest says:

    WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE RECIEPES THAT CALL FOR CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP. THERE ARE NO HEALTHY CONDENSED SOUPS I CAN FIND.

  2. Kathy says:

    Progresso Light Zesty Santa Fe Style Chicken Soup is so good! My fave!

  3. luckyfella1 says:

    I can't and won't buy anything that has MSG… It just destroys me. I'm sick for at least a day.
    So with that out of the way, I make my own chicken stock. Then I make homemade noodles.
    I try to make them very small, as they balloon out as they cook, but oh boy, is it good.
    5 weeks ago I made a large batch as I got the flu right after I got the flu shot. Imagine that!!
    It didn't help with the flu, but made my illness more enjoyable., and less congestion.
    As for the wedding soup, it used to be called CHICKARENA by Progresso. Those cute little meatballs , etc.. I liked it way back then. Not now.

  4. Christine says:

    I love, love, love Campbell's chicken soup (regular red label) but I always use chicken broth in place of half of the water and I add about 1/2 tsp. of McCormick's Montreal Chicken seasoning. I always liked Mrs. Grass' soup (with the egg drop) as a kid, but nothing is better than my Campbell's "recipe".

  5. nikki says:

    Nothing like homemade which I do 99.9% of the time, however, in a pinch, when you're not feeling well and there's nothing else – that good old red and white can of chicken noodle tastes delicious and it won't kill you if you have it in case of emergency….

  6. Sherrie says:

    Trader Joe's makes the best canned chicken noodle soup! No msg, no extra added ingred … big chunks of chicken, fat noodles, carrots & celery….and it is very tasty for a canned soup, when you don't have the time to make it or your're sick!

    • Niki says:

      Really? I just bought 4 cans of Trader Joe's and I thought it was awful. The flavor was not really like chicken and it was very greasy. I felt like I was eating a bowl of canola oil. I couldn't even finish one bowl of it and plan to return the other 3 cans.

  7. Jean says:

    I had to laugh when I read your taste test comment about "Health Valley No Salt Added . . .Soup." You said "but the first ingredient is water—the other soups are made mostly from chicken broth." What is "chicken broth?" Answer: Mostly water! Ha ha ha to you. I see no difference. I am on a very low salt diet because of water retention. I was sick recently and my husband got me some "low salt" soup. I couldn't eat it. Later, I found Campbell's "Healthy Request." Lower sodium, but still too high. My cupboard is stocked now. My solution is to boil some left-over chicken in plain water (no salt) and add the resulting broth and chicken bits to the canned chicken soup. A lot of trouble but I don't want to waste the cans that are currrently weighing down my cupboard.

  8. jean says:

    nothing beats home made , but for canned chicken soup, I love habitants chicken noodle, yum

  9. Gary Gullikson says:

    I enjoy the newish Mrs Grass'es chicken noodle and vegetable soup mix in the bag, not sure what the sodium level or MSC content is but it tastes much better than you might expect.. The best tasting chicken noodle soup I've had so far is served at Katella Deli, Los Alamitos CA, noted for its Kosher New York style deli quisine. I make a preffy fair home made Chickum Zoup myself.

  10. Elaine says:

    We always have Campbell's red label on hand for having when one has the flu or a cold. Otherwise I often make my own soup. I make a mean beef vegetable soup.
    But I like to have some canned soups on hand for a quick meal. I hope you taste test and rate canned New England Clam Chowder.
    Could you also give us your best home made Chicken Noodle (or without noodles) soup & New England Clam Chowder.
    Mrs Grass's Vegetale Soup mix makes a terrific spinach dip. Yumm, my Grandson's love it.

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