We Tried Pretty Much Every Can of Campbell’s Soup. Here Are the Ones We Like Best.
In the spring of 1962, artist Andy Warhol asked some friends to suggest a subject for his next series of paintings. Gallerist Muriel Latow said a few words that would prompt him to start the most recognizable work of his career, if not the most recognizable pieces of modern art, ever. “You should paint something that everybody sees every day, that everybody recognizes … like a can of soup,” she said — and she charged him $50 for the inspiration.
I’ve been thinking about Andy Warhol a lot lately, because I’ve been eating a lot of Campbell’s soup lately. Even though Warhol more or less defined pop art with his Campbell’s Soup Can paintings, he also, uh, really liked soup. “I used to drink [Campbell’s Soup],” he said at the time. “I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.”
I didn’t eat the exact same thing, but I did immerse myself in All Things Campbell’s, while trying to decide which were the best of the many, many (MANY) varieties available.
Here are my picks for the very best Campbell’s options.
The Best Line
Campbell’s has several separate, distinct lines of soup, including Chunky, Homestyle, Chunky, and the oddly named Well Yes! — and that last one is, hands-down, my favorite. The flavors are a little more complex (think: sweet potatoes, kale, quinoa, barley, and farro) than those traditional “Cream of” cans that have been around since Warhol was still a commercial student in Pittsburgh.
There wasn’t a single Well Yes! soup that I didn’t enjoy — and I tried every flavor that Harris Teeter had in stock. The one caveat is the amount of sodium: Because they’re all ready-to-eat and don’t have to be mixed with water like the condensed varieties, one can could have 50 percent of your daily value of sodium, but that’s still way less than the amount of salt in the Chunky versions.
The Best Chicken Noodle
Another Well Yes! winner here. Of all of the chicken noodle soups I tried (including condensed, creamy, Chunky, and Homestyle), my fave was Well Yes! Chicken Noodle soup, with its surprisingly flavorful broth, recognizable vegetables (don’t take that for granted, soup-eaters), generous amount of white-meat chicken, and especially the wide egg noodles.
The Best Tomato Soup
For years, my favorite canned tomato soup has been the creamy tomato and basil blend from Harris Teeter’s own HT Traders brand. Don’t tell the Teeter, but I’m leaving him for the Homestyle Harvest Tomato with Basil. The soup itself has a glorious velvety texture, and the basil taste isn’t too sharp or pronounced. (And, because this is important, it is WONDERFUL with a grilled cheese.)
The Best Comfort Food
This was a close one, between Campbell’s Chunky Creamy Chicken & Dumplings and the Chunky Pub Style Chicken Pot Pie. (To me, the only difference is that “Pub Style” means that there’s corn in it.) Both styles have plenty of chicken in every bite and ultra-satisfying, spaetzle-style dumplings. But yeah, you’re going to want to drink, like, a half-gallon of water with either one of these.
What’s your favorite canned soup? Discuss in the comments below!