chicken-noodle soups: the good, the bland and the ugly
By C. D Clawson
December 15, 2006 | It's that time of the year again
when red and green seem to be everywhere, when our lawns
are replaced by a few feet of snow, and when soccer
moms pull each other's hair out over Sesame Street dolls.
Yes, even the winter season has its dark side, and we
know it as Cold and Flu Season. It's time to pull out
some extra blankets, the humidifier and a hot bowl of
chicken noodle soup. Here's some advice on which brands
to buy and which ones to avoid.
In a blind taste test, the following brands of canned
chicken noodle soup were compared: Campbell's, Healthy
Choice and Progresso. Our panel of judges was determined
to find the soup with the firmest, thickest pieces of
vegetables, the heartiest egg noodles and pieces of
chicken and a thick well-seasoned broth. Cost and nutritional
value were also considered.
Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup --
This brand sticks out for its mediocrity, although it
appears to be the healthiest of the three brands. It
may be most recognizable, relatively healthy, and the
least expensive, but this brand lacks quite a bit as
far as taste goes. One taste-tester remarked, "It tastes
like a good soup that sat on the shelf for months and
months." The soggy noodles, thin, greasy broth, and
lack of vegetables really detract from the distinct
and strong chicken flavor.
Campbell's lacked the most necessary ingredient in
chicken noodle soup. There is almost no chicken in the
soup. How can you call it chicken noodle soup with almost
no chicken? Even worse, the little bits of meat that
the soup did have looked and felt like discolored erasers
off of No. 2 pencils. There is nothing worse than the
feeling in your jaw muscles bouncing as your rubbery
food fights back.
Price: $1.39 (2.5 servings)
Calories (per serving): 60
Fat: 1.5 g
Sodium: 890 mg
Rating: 2.0 stars out of 5
Healthy Choice Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
-- This was the most disappointing of all of the brands
tested. The label suggests that this variety is healthier;
however, the nutritional facts suggest otherwise. Although
the brand has half the sodium of the other two brands,
it has more calories. And, as is the case with many
food products that purport to be healthier, supposed
health comes at the cost of taste.
The vegetables are so soft and mushy that they fall
apart in the bowl. The broth is thick, but has a bland,
oily aftertaste. The noodles looked divine, but after
taking a bite into one a taste-tester said of the noodles,
"These must be made of plastic." All around this was
an unforgivable combination which overpowered the hearty,
genuine chicken pieces which were as out of place as
a Hawaiian shirt at a formal dinner party.
Price: $1.99 (2 servings)
Calories (per serving): 110
Fat: 2.0 g
Sodium: 480 mg
Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5
Progresso Rich and Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
-- This soup lived up to its name. The broth is thick
and rich just like Grandma used to make. It's not oily
and doesn't leave that greasy, sticky feeling on your
lips. The generous pieces of chicken taste real and
don't look processed. The selling point of the brand
however, is the real egg noodles. They're not so mushy
that they fall apart on your tongue nor are they rubbery,
but the perfect balance between the two extremes.
The brand does fall flat in two significant aspects.
This brand, although relatively low in fat and carbohydrates,
is fairly high in sodium, and, as is the case with the
other two brands tested, the vegetables were mushy.
However, the price and taste handily made up for these
less significant details.
Price: $1.99 (2.5 servings)
Calories (per serving): 100
Fat: 2.0 g
Sodium: 950 mg
Rating: 4.0 stars out of 5
After sampling these three different brands of chicken
noodle soup, our three taste-testers came to a conclusion
with but a few seconds of deliberation. They recommend
Progresso Rich and Hearty for that part of the season
spent underneath the covers with a thermometer and a
bowl of soup.