What’s Up with Drinkable Soup?

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

Here’s a question for you: Do you drink soup, or do you eat soup? Most people you ask will say you “eat” it, but a new crop of trendy “drinkable soup” purveyors might have you thinking twice.

You might be wondering what on earth drinkable soup is, and I don’t blame you — I tried three types of drinkable soups and a soup cleanse for this article and I still haven’t quite figured it out myself. At their core, drinkable soups such as Züpa Noma, Fawen, and Tio Gazpacho are nutrient-rich, vegan soups that are packaged and sold ready-to-drink, either chilled or heated up (except for Tio, which is meant to be consumed chilled).

There’s also soup cleansing aka “souping,” which has gained traction as a less extreme, low-sugar alternative to juice cleansing. The world of soup is more complicated than you think, but I’m here to tell you what’s up.

The 4 Drinkable Soup Brands I Tried

I’m going to break down the various types of drinkable soups available on the market right now. They include Züpa Noma, Fawen, Tio Gazpacho, and Splendid Spoon.

  • Certified organic
  • Whole30-approved
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan
  • Cold pressured
  • 6 flavors
  • 60 to 150 calories per bottle
  • 160 to 250 milligrams of sodium per bottle
  • 3 to 8 grams of sugar per bottle
  • No added sugar
  • Price: $6.99 per 12-ounce bottle

Recently, Whole30 announced Züpa Noma as its September Whole30 sponsor. Whole30 headmistress Melissa Hartwig herself endorsed the soups as a “nutrient-dense form of hydration.”

Züpa Noma comes in six rather complex flavors: carrot coconut lime, tomato gazpacho, tomatillo kale jalapeno, cucumber avocado, yellow pepper turmeric, and beet orange basil. Each flavor is rated on a scale of sweet to spicy and comes with a suggested “soup sipping schedule,” starting with cucumber avocado and a breakfast pairing at 8 a.m. to beet orange basil after dinner.

Upon drinking it, I thought of Züpa Noma as more of a fibrous, savory smoothie than a soup. The texture is quite thick, which helps each soup feel filling, but it was also a little hard to get past having to chew each fibrous mouthful before swallowing. I loved the cucumber avocado and tomato gazpacho flavors, but found some of the spicier ones a little overwhelmingly garlicky or oniony. That said, Züpa Noma is much lower in sodium than the other brands.

Shop now: Züpa Noma

  • Organic
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • 3 flavors
  • 120 to 200 calories per bottle
  • 440 to 720 milligrams of sodium per bottle
  • 10 grams of sugar per bottle
  • No added sugar
  • Price: $4.99 per 16.9-ounce bottle

Fawen stands out with it’s eco-friendly carton packaging and generous portion size. Meant to be sipped on the go as hydrating workout fuel or a liquid power snack, Fawen comes in three familiar flavors: beet and cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, and sweet potato & red lentil.

I found myself sipping on the beet and cabbage flavor when I got hungry on the train and enjoying its subtle cumin kick, even at room temperature. The sweet potato and lentil was solid, and would probably taste quite wholesome heated up and in a bowl, but the broccoli and cauliflower had an unappealing aftertaste. Texture-wise, Fawen is a purée that, combined with its packaging, sort of reminded me of baby food. But Fawen is also the only brand to offer coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and 16 different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in each bottle.

Shop now: Fawen

  • Vegan
  • Gluten free
  • Non-GMO
  • Cold pressured
  • 6 flavors
  • 90 to 160 calories per bottle
  • 280 to 650 milligrams of sodium per bottle
  • 4 to 14 grams of sugar per bottle
  • No added sugar
  • Price: $4.99 per 10-ounce bottle

Tio Gazpacho is delicious. It succeeds because gazpacho is a familiar and much-loved concept, and Tio delivers on it. My favorite flavors were the maíz (corn, roasted poblano, lime) and rosado (watermelon, cilantro, cayenne), which both struck a nice balance of acidity, sweetness, and savory flavor without becoming overwhelming. All of the gazpachos tasted super fresh.

The other soups I tried all claimed that they could be consumed chilled, at room temperature, or warmed up, but Tio encourages sippers to drink their soups cold. I appreciated this lack of ambiguity — with the other soups, I found myself going through a process of trial and error trying to find the optimal times (breakfast? Dinner? Post-workout?) and temperatures at which to enjoy them, and I’m still not sure which combination of soups and temperatures is best. But Tio is simply fresh, chilled gazpacho in a bottle that you can drink on its own or addition to a meal.

I will note, however, that Tio has the highest concentration of sodium per serving, so this is not one of the soup brands I’d suggest drinking throughout the day.

Shop now: Tio Gazpacho

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • 5 soups per daily cleanse with a seasonal menu
  • 70 to 320 calories per bottle
  • 240 to 720 milligrams sodium per bottle
  • 2 to 12 grams sugar per bottle
  • No added sugar
  • Price: $55 for a five-soup, one-day cleanse

Splendid Spoon’s one-day soup cleanse is their version of the intermittent fast, “proven to encourage weight loss, protect against disease, improve brain health, and remove waste material from cells.” Not only does it come shipped to your door with four drinkable soups and one plant-based bowl, but each cleanse (which they recommend you do weekly) comes with a weekly meditation to guide a “mindful eating moment” for the consumption of your soups. Mine involved removing distractions, feeling the weight of the spoon in my hand, and noticing how it felt in my non-dominant hand, ending with three deep breaths and a directive to “take this focus on being present to one action into the rest of your day.”

Yes, I know how it sounds — this is some hipster millennial soup. But that hipster millennial soup was delicious!

The cleanse day went as follows: beet balsamic bisque (breakfast), cauliflower coconut (lunch), carrot turmeric elixir (mid-afternoon snack), red lentil dal (dinner), and fennel consomme (nightcap). Even though most of the soups were chunky, I was surprised that I didn’t mind sipping them straight out of the bottle. I warmed up the carrot turmeric elixir and red lentil dal, and they were rich and restorative.

But here’s the catch: After each soup, I found myself unexpectedly thirsty. After doing the math I realized that one day of souping adds up to about 106 percent of the suggested daily value of sodium. This is something to be conscious of — especially if you’re also eating other foods in addition. So while each soup was satisfying and tasted great, I ended up spreading out my soups over a few days, and they ended up being a nice treat to look forward to.

Shop now: Splendid Spoon

Final Thoughts

The days of warming up a can of Campbell’s on the stove are over, and soup’s sexy makeover is here. It takes a little getting used to, however. Sipping soup out of a bottle takes some adjustment, but I think it’s absolutely worth experimenting with a few brands and flavors of drinkable soup — especially if a high-fiber, nutrient-rich, low-sugar soup can replace a less healthy snack in your daily routine.

No one drinkable soup is the same, but they all share a common goal: to make nutritious, tasty, plant-based food more available to all of us. I’ll drink (soup) to that.