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. Peg says:

    I like Lipton chicken noodle soup. I add celery, onion and peas. Not much chicen in it but that's ok with me.

  2. Marcia says:

    I make my own chicken soup, but in a pinch I will use the Lipton dry soup mix before I will use canned chicken soup. Box of Liptons, can of Swansons chicken and add your own noodles and veggies and you have a soup that is slightly healthier than canned and something your kids will eat.

  3. Joyce says:

    Making your own and freezing is the only way to get really healthy soup…

  4. Adam says:

    Imagine brand organic canned soups are excellent.. don't know about low sodium, but they're definitely the best tasting canned soups I can remember tasting.. they're fairly new, Imagine is mostly known for their stocks and soups in cartons, but the canned ones came out not all that long ago.. but I highly recommend them

  5. Karen says:

    The attachment to the Campbell's red label soup is purely emotional. It is tradition and reminds us of childhood. Similarly, when tested most people prefer the smell of baby powder when compared to other scents because of the emotional attachment from birth. Red label may not be as healthy but I am sure that Tradition will not allow it to leave any time soon. Motherhood and comfort food and baby powder!!!

  6. LaDawn Wells says:

    I started making homemade soup more and more and now I find it so easy to make I keep some in the fridge for our lunches during the week. I like using the low sodium beef broth best and put in fresh veggies from the market along with a little quinoa, brown rice pasta, pearled barley or soy noodles and some canned no salt added diced tomatoes (my favorite is Del Monte’s Basil, Garlic & Oregano Diced Tomatoes which, now, also comes in “no salt added”, which adds so much flavor that I don’t need to add more spice and I control the salt. The ingredients vary as to what I find that’s fresh although I have used frozen as well and it’s good too. I have a small kitchen and small freezer so stocking it isn’t an option for me. I agree that homemade stock/broth is the best but I don’t always have the time or space to make and keep it on hand so I rely on the store bought low sodium organics and they work very well.

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