My whole family had the flu. And we all had it bad. And it lasted well over a week. We did manage to make-do with leftovers and lots of simple foods while we were sick; thankfully, I had roasted a bunch of chicken and cooked a large batch of potatoes the day before I came down ill. But this experience did lead me to the realization that there is a place for some easy, off-the-shelf foods in our pantry. While I don't intend for them to become a significant part of our diets, I now plan to keep our pantry stocked with at least a small amount of canned foods for those times when cooking just isn't possible.
Thus, my family has embarked on a taste-testing experiment with organic canned soups. I'm focusing on brands and flavors that are locally available. So far, we've tried 9 different flavors, from 3 different companies. Some of the soups have been unbelievably horrendous; others have been decent and will have a place in our pantry.
None of the soups we've tried have been anywhere near as good as my homemade soups, but I didn't expect that they would anyway. Our goal has been to find some decent canned soups to have around for extra-busy times and extenuating circumstances. So while none of these soups rival our usual homemade fare, there are at least a few soups that I can keep on-the-shelf.
Our Soup Taste-Testing MethodologyTo give each soup a fair taste-test, we've done the following:
- We try a few different soups side-by-side, so we can compare them.
- In-between trying different soups, we make sure to clear our palates with a neutral drink or food such as milk, lemon water, crackers, etc.
- Salt can be added to taste.
- Soups that contain a large-proportion of ingredients that certain family members (ahem, my husband) dislike are not tried by those family members.
So far, we have not found any particular type of canned soup that is well-liked by all four members of our family. That is pretty standard, though, as even a fair amount of my home-cooked food is loved by three and tolerated by one (and that one who doesn't love it is not always the same person). So, no big surprise there. Let's start with the worst.
The WorstThe Worst Soups are those that were hated by a majority of our family.
Pacific Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
This soup was the only one hated by all four of us. It was an unappetizing gray color, it smelled unpleasant, and it tasted awful. Everyone tasted it once, and then the rest was thrown into the chicken-scraps pail. 0 out of 4 liked it.
Amy's Organic Soups Hearty Minestrone with Vegetables
This soup combines beans, lentils, and vegetables. Although that sounds like a promising start, there was a flavor that we didn't like, seeming to come from the spices. Only one of us finished our small portion of this soup, and that one portion was not enjoyed much. 1/2 out of 4 liked it.
Amy's Organic Soups Chunky Vegetable
This soup should have been good. It's ingredients were just vegetables, salt, and pepper, with no spices. Yet, inexplicably, it tasted rather bad. 3 of us hated it, and 1 disliked it. No one finished their portions. 0 out of 4 liked it.
Pacific Organic Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
This soup combined chicken, wild rice, and vegetables. It didn't look or smell very good. Two of us hated it, one of use disliked it, and one of us thought it was tolerable but not good. 1/2 out of 4 liked it.
Simply Balanced Organic Tomato Basil Soup
This soup actually tasted okay for the first couple bites. 3 out of 4 of us thought it started out okay. But then, we all noticed that the flavor seemed to deteriorate and an off-flavor developed. To me, the off-flavor had a sweet-ish metallic flavor (which is surprising since this soup was in a paper carton, not a can). None of us finished our small portions. 0 out of 4 liked it.
Pretty Good SoupsPretty Good Soups are those that were liked by greater than half of our family.
Amy's Organic Soups Lentil Vegetable Soup (Light in Sodium)
This thick soup was a nice combination of lentils with vegetables and potatoes. Since my husband doesn't like lentils, he didn't participate in this taste-test. This soup did need extra salt. 2 out of 3 liked this soup quite a lot. And it was even tastier with some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Simply Balanced Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
The flavor of this soup was reminiscent of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, which my husband and I both loved in childhood. This soup did need added salt. All four of us actually liked the flavor, but one lamented that the chicken was "too dry" (and it was, because the chunks of chicken were somewhat large and overcooked as most canned soup meats are). This soup did have one ingredient I generally try to avoid (canola oil), but only a small amount. 3&1/2 out of 4 liked it.
Amy's Organic Soups Chunky Tomato Bisque (Light in Sodium)
This soup had a beautiful red color and nice aroma. It was the only "Low Sodium" soup that did not need added salt. The chunky tomatoes gave it a better consistency than the usual pureed tomato soups. 3 out of 4 liked it.
Amy's Organic Soups Minestrone (Light in Sodium)
This soup had a nice combination of beans and vegetables. Straight from the can, it did need a lot of added salt. But once salt was added, this soup was okay. 3 out of 4 liked it.