I Tried 8 Cans of Chicken Soup and There Were 2 Clear Winners

updated Oct 28, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

While nothing beats homemade chicken soup, it’s always a good idea to have a can of the store-bought stuff tucked away in the cupboard. It’s like insurance for those times when you’re in dire need of a quick healthy lunch or warm relief from a head cold. 

But as anyone who’s walked the soup aisle can tell you, there are tons of brands to choose from and picking one isn’t easy. After all, when you’re in need of a bowl of comfort, you don’t want to crack open a can and find that it tastes like day-old dishwater. (And some do!)

When it comes to canned chicken soup, we all just want the closest to homemade we can get, so I decided to find out which brand delivers that from-scratch taste. I recently hit several stores in my city to gather up all the brands I could find, brought them home, and tasted them all side-by-side. 

The differences were stunning. Some were great, some were fine, and a couple smelled like old hospital food and tasted like overcooked peas and dusty dried herbs that had been left in the cupboard one decade too many. Yikes!

So which ones made the cut?

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Our Favorite: Progresso Traditional Chicken Noodle, $2 for 19 ounces

Everything about this soup is generous — the can size, the big, fat spiral noodles and thick carrot slices, and the chunks of white meat chicken. The soup base has more body than most, like you get from homemade stock, although judging by the ingredient label that’s likely due to thickeners (like modified food starch) rather than gelatin from long-simmered bones. Still, it tasted well-balanced and chicken-forward. It wasn’t overly sweet and carrot-y, and was filling, comforting, and delicious. Even the Light version was similarly tasty. The only difference was the broth was a bit thinner and there seemed to be fewer noodles. 

A Close Second: Wolfgang Puck Free-Range Organic Chicken Noodle Soup, $3 for 14.5 ounces

For those who want organic and free-range chicken, and a few less processed ingredients, Wolfgang Puck’s soup was a close runner-up. The broth was more delicate in flavor (even though it has more sodium than Progresso) and the ingredients weren’t quite as hearty in size and amount, but it was balanced and delicious. 

Do you have a go-to canned chicken soup? Tell us about it in the comments below!