In Your Food: Soup!

Fall is here! What could be better on a cold, drizzly day than a bowl of hot soup?

Get out your magnifying glass. Some of these labels are tiny.

Let’s start with an all-time favorite: chicken noodle. Good for what ails you. Comfort food, and what Mom always fed you when you were sick.

chicken noodle

No corn syrup, which is good, but it contains modified food starch which may or may not have corn, so it’s out for my pal.

How about the Healthy Choice version? It’s Healthy and Delicious, right?

chicken noodle

Ack! HFCS! And modified food starch as well. And look, down at the bottom – beef extract! I don’t eat red meat, so this is out for me, not just for my friend.

What about those little foil packets that Mom used to add to boiling water?

chicken noodle

Corn syrup. And MSG! And cornstarch, and natural flavor…never mind.

Back to Campbell’s. They sure have a lot of different products. Here’s the Chunky Style:

chicken noodle

Better, but it’s got modified food starch again, so no.

Hey, how about that organic soup that comes in a box?

chicken noodle

Corn starch. Twice. Sigh.

I looked at Progresso. We’re getting picture heavy so I won’t post it, but it had corn protein and modified food starch, so it’s out. There’s one more Campbell’s to look at: 100% natural Healthy Request. I am dubious about the “natural” label, since it’s basically meaningless. But we’ll take a look.

chicken noodle

Ta-da! No corn! Little bit of sugar, but it’s way down in the list. I don’t love the natural flavoring either, but this is something I could serve my friend.

Of course, homemade is even better. I put green chile in mine.

On to other flavors…

I checked out another childhood favorite – Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable (the regular vegetable has beef stock). It’s got corn syrup. The only other vegetable soup I spotted, Progresso, also had corn.

Next: Tomato soup. What could be simpler?

Campbell’s Healthy Request:


HFCS again. Tsk.

Well, they have a 100% natural version of this one too.


Much better. Only the natural flavoring bothers me.

Last choice: Pacific’s organic boxed soup.

Not bad. Some sugar. Otherwise OK.

Soup’s on.




In Your Food: Soup! — 6 Comments

  1. Is your friend allergic to starch? Because that’s a perfectly normal thickening agent for soups and sauces.

    That said, the best thing to do is to buy an organic/a free range chicken and to keep the bones with bits of meat still clinging to them for making your own chicken soup. You only add some veggies (onion, celery, carrots, leek, spices & herbs, salt & pepper to taste), and water. That way you know exactly what’s in your soup! It’s no big deal to cook it, too, you just need a bit of time (around two hours). On the plus side, the remains of one chicken are good for a HUGE pot soup. And what you don’t need right now, you can freeze for later.

    If you don’t have the time to make your own, at least over here in Europe you can get excellent organic chicken broth powders that do not contain any awful artificial ingredients. Just add water, bring to a boil, add your favourite noodles. Done. Still tastes TONS better than anything out of a can.

    Tomato soup is even simpler. Even if you don’t want to use fresh tomatoes, there are tons and tons of cans and bottles of tomatoes around that contain really nothing but tomato. Saute a finely minced onion and a bit of garlic, pour tomatoes on top, add a little water until it’s the consistency you like. Heat. Add salt, pepper, perhaps a bit of basil. Takes about fifteen minutes, if that. Again, no worries about artificial ingredients.

    • She’s allergic to genetically engineered corn, so I have to avoid cornstarch.

      I agree that homemade soup beats anything out of a can. Sometimes, though, there isn’t time to make it, and the impulse is to grab something that can just be heated up. It’s for those times that I’m pointing out these issues. My friend’s allergy is just one example of the sensitivities that can make label-reading imperative.

  2. If you buy rotisserie chickens at the store — or if you roast your own chicken for dinner — save the carcass and make soup out of it. You can shove it all into a freezer bag and amass them to deal with when you’re ready. Add onions, carrots and herbs, simmer for a couple hours, and then strain it. The rotisserie birds in the store tend to be salted already, so I wouldn’t salt the stock.