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11 Store-Bought Soup Brands Made With The Highest-Quality Ingredients, According To Experts

Bowl of chicken noodle soup
Bowl of chicken noodle soup - Rez-art/Getty Images

It is no secret that store-bought soup is a popular staple of the American diet. Canned or packaged soup is affordable and convenient, and many brands have elevated their offerings to include unique combinations of flavors that have enhanced the experience into something verging on gourmet.

In light of the frequency with which Americans eat store-bought soup and the often questionable nutritional value and quality of many brands, I consulted with Jazmine Hall, who has a B.S. in nutrition and dietetics and is the director of culinary entertainment at Taste Buds Kitchen, regarding the types of ingredients she looks for in a soup. Hall notes, "I tend to look for soups that don't have a ton of sodium ... under 500mg/serving is usually my sweet spot. ... We want ingredients that we can understand, not ones full of added preservatives." She continues, "I'd steer clear of soups that have a ton of sodium and cholesterol. Cream-based soups like New England clam chowder, loaded potato soup, and broccoli cheddar soup tend to be common examples."

As a professional chef, I factored in many of these criteria while also searching for brands that favor sustainably sourced organic ingredients and taste like something homemade; you can find a fuller explanation of my methodology at the end of the article. Based on my expertise as a culinary professional and the nutritional guidance provided by Hall, I have rounded up a list of store-bought soup brands made with the highest-quality ingredients.

Read more: Canned Soups You Should And Shouldn't Buy

1. Pacific Foods

Pacific Foods soup
Pacific Foods soup - Pacific Foods/Facebook

Pacific Foods canned and packaged soups and stocks are a perennial favorite in my kitchen. The company offers plant-based, organic options free of GMOs and MSG. Its products are also manufactured in a peanut-free facility where the equipment regularly undergoes a five-step cleaning process to minimize cross-contamination, making these soups great options for those with food allergies.

Many of the soups produced by this brand fit within the nutrition guidelines recommended by nutritionist Jazmine Hall, including several well under the threshold of 500 milligrams of sodium per serving. They also include ingredients that are simple to read and understand. That said, you will want to read labels carefully, as a few products are not low in sodium, particularly the condensed cream soups. Additionally, most of Pacific Foods' canned soups contain more than one serving, so you should be aware of that when eating the entire can in one sitting.

As a chef, I appreciate the unique flavor combinations, particularly the vegan options. These have a velvety texture with bold spices that will keep you full and satiated while titillating your taste buds. They may not be homemade, but they are a close facsimile of something made from scratch. Standout flavors include Organic Cumin Carrot Oat Milk Vegan Soup and the Organic Light in Sodium Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup, the latter of which would be the perfect tomato soup for elevating a basic mac and cheese recipe.

2. Amy's Kitchen

Amy's Kitchen canned soups
Amy's Kitchen canned soups - Amy's Kitchen/Facebook

Amy's Kitchen is another brand that frequently ends up in my home. The family-owned company has made soups, beans, and chili since 1999. Its soups are produced using non-GMO ingredients, and many are organic, gluten-free, and plant-based to accommodate different dietary needs. While there is a strict protocol to prevent cross-contamination, all products are manufactured in a facility that makes foods containing wheat, milk, soy, tree nuts, and seeds. The facility is free of peanuts, fish, shellfish, and eggs.

Though all the soups produced by Amy's Kitchen fulfill the criterion for simple, easy-to-read ingredients, many do not fit within the acceptable limits for sodium per serving. However, several "Light in Sodium" options are within the 500 milligrams or less per serving goal. There is more than one serving per can, though, so you may exceed acceptable sodium levels if you eat the whole thing.

Amy's Kitchen excels in flavor, with bold seasonings liberally infused into each soup. Its soups are also created with mouthfeel in mind, with its chunky soups having healthy amounts of vegetables and its creamy ones being smooth as silk. Personal favorites include the Organic Split Pea Soup, Organic Fire Roasted Southwestern Vegetable Soup, and the Organic Minestrone Soup from the Light in Sodium line of flavors. Many of these would be ideal canned soups to use as shortcuts for pasta recipes that otherwise require a lot of time and effort to create.

3. Campbell's Well Yes!

Campbell's Well Yes Soup
Campbell's Well Yes Soup - Well Yes Soup/Facebook

I am including Campbell's Well Yes! line of soup even though these do not meet the criterion for a sodium content of 500 milligrams or less per serving, though many are close. Where these soups shine is in their high vegetable content. Some varieties contain up to 60% of the recommended daily allowance of vegetables per serving. This is a great way to boost your vegetable consumption for those who struggle to meet the minimum necessary daily intake. The soups from this brand are also made with antibiotic-free chicken, and the ingredient lists are not challenging to navigate.

These soups come in cans that contain roughly two servings each, microwavable single-serving containers, and sippable single-serve cups. The convenience of the sippable single-serve cups is a plus for those with busy schedules needing a relatively healthy meal on the go. Additionally, for those needing vegan options, several plant-based offerings are packed with flavor and a healthy amount of protein.

For someone who appreciates bold flavor (as I do), this soup line offers several unique combinations. The Spiced Chickpea, Cajun-Style Chicken, and Sweet Corn & Roasted Poblano varieties are ideal for heat lovers. Alternatively, try adding a dash of salsa to one of the other soups to infuse them with a dose of spice.

4. Kettle & Fire

Kettle & Fire Tomato Bone Broth Soup
Kettle & Fire Tomato Bone Broth Soup - Kettle & Fire Bone Broth/Facebook

Kettle & Fire is a brand recommended by nutritionist Jazmine Hall and is a personal favorite. This brand began with the basics — bone broth. The goal was to create a more nutritious and delicious bone broth using real bones that are slow-cooked at a low temperature to extract the maximum amount of collagen. While the evidence to support the potential health benefits of consuming bone broth is sparse, the flavor this cooking process develops is undeniable.

All of the soups made by Kettle & Fire are USDA organic, non-GMO verified, glyphosate residue-free, antibiotic-free, have no added hormones, and are made with no artificial ingredients. Ingredient lists are direct and easy to read, and several lower-sodium options hover under or just above the 500 milligrams per serving goal. The company also takes sustainability seriously, something that may be valuable to those concerned with environmental issues.

From a culinary perspective, I appreciate the rich, cooked-all-day flavors. The soups contain plenty of aromatics and seasonings to infuse maximum flavor. Standouts include the creamy Butternut Squash Bone Broth Soup, which is gluten- and dairy-free, and the umami-forward Mushroom Bisque Bone Broth Soup, which is gluten-free and keto-friendly. Lastly, the Chicken Noodle Bone Broth Soup deserves special mention because most brands' iterations of this classic soup flavor are far from fitting within Hall's criteria for being considered healthy, while also lacking complexity.

5. Progresso Reduced Sodium

Progresso Reduced Sodium Italian-Style Wedding Soup
Progresso Reduced Sodium Italian-Style Wedding Soup - Progresso

Progresso is another brand noted by nutritionist Jazmine Hall, with its chicken noodle soup being a particular favorite. This brand has been a staple in many kitchens for years, including mine. It is a name we know and trust that has quality soup at an affordable price. Progresso's soups are made with no artificial colors or flavors, are non-GMO, and feature high-quality ingredients. Many of its offerings are gluten-free, low-calorie, vegetarian, and low-sodium.

All of its low-sodium options fall under the 500 milligrams per serving threshold. Its ingredients lists are perhaps less clear and concise than other gourmet brands', but they are pretty straightforward. Notably, each can of soup contains about two servings, so if you eat the whole can, which is easy to do, the amount of sodium creeps up. Despite this, these are still a good option for those seeking better-quality canned soup.

Though the flavor varieties offered by Progresso are not particularly exotic or unique, they are the kinds of soups that many of us have developed a taste for since we began eating soup as kids, giving us an element of nostalgia. The Reduced Sodium Creamy Tomato with Basil is perfect for pairing with a grilled cheese sandwich, and the Reduced Sodium Italian-Style Wedding with Meatballs is a hearty option for those with bigger appetites.

6. Health Valley

Health Valley Organic Cream of Mushroom soup
Health Valley Organic Cream of Mushroom soup - Health Valley

Health Valley is one of the brands under the umbrella of parent company Hain Celestial. This company has three guiding principles behind its brands: a healthier planet, healthier products, and healthier people. The soups produced by Health Valley are certified organic, with several being vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Several of its soups have no salt added or are low in sodium. The ingredient lists are simple and easy to decipher.

Like many other brands, each of these cans contains approximately two servings. In this case, the no-salt-added ones are still well within the recommended 500 milligrams per serving limit, making them an ideal option for those on a restricted-sodium diet. For those needing a hint of extra flavor that may be missing due to the lack of salt, you can always upgrade these canned soups using simple ingredients like a hint of pesto or a splash of lemon juice.

Two varieties I am particularly fond of are the Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup and the Organic Tomato Soup. The mushroom variety is made using several different types of mushrooms, from fresh portobellos to a powder to a concentrate. This gives it a robust, umami-rich flavor profile that could easily be incorporated into your favorite green bean casserole recipe instead of higher-sodium condensed cream of mushroom soups.

7. Healthy Choice

Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup - Healthy Choice

Since 1989, Healthy Choice has been producing convenient, easy-to-prepare meals made from sustainably sourced, high-quality ingredients prepared following FDA guidelines for what can be considered "healthy" in terms of overall fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium content. Its soup options come in several different varieties, including the classic canned soups, a line made using chicken bone broth, and convenient single-serving microwavable cups.

Each contains under 500 milligrams of sodium per serving, though the cans have roughly two servings apiece. While the ingredients lists are a bit more extensive and contain more additives and preservatives than some of the other brands included on this list, they are still relatively uncomplicated to decipher.

From a flavor perspective, none of the varieties are particularly exotic. That said, they are wholesome and filling and are a good option for a simple, quick meal that doesn't require a lot of fuss. I enjoy the easy microwavable cups. They are just the right size, and since they contain a single serving per cup, you don't have to do any measuring to figure out exactly how much to eat.

8. Campbell's Healthy Request

Cream of Mushroom soup
Cream of Mushroom soup - Campbell's

It should come as no surprise that Campbell's came out on top when we asked our readers which canned soup brand they think is best. The company has been around since 1869 and has been a staple of many households since it started canning condensed soups. Many of the soups within its catalog of varieties, however, would not necessarily qualify as healthy.

Fortunately, Campbell's has evolved, introducing several more nutritious options, including its Healthy Request line. These soups are made with quality ingredients lower in fat and cholesterol that are still "MM! MM! GOOD!" Most fall well within the guidelines of under 500 milligrams of sodium per serving, including the creamed varieties, otherwise notorious for being less than healthy options. Just keep in mind the overall number of servings per container. They vary from single-serving to more than two per can, so read the labels carefully.

The New England Clam Chowder is surprisingly satisfying for fans of this flavor. It is loaded with clams and potatoes and has a thick texture. My only minor complaint is that the ingredients listed on this, and many of the other soups from Campbell's in general, are a bit complex to read, having some additional preservatives and additives in them to increase shelf life. Overall, this is not a deal breaker, just something to be aware of. In terms of cost and brand-name recognition, Campbell's Healthy Request soups are a great option.

9. Imagine

Assorted Imagine soups
Assorted Imagine soups - Imagine Broths, Soups, & Gravies/Facebook

Imagine is a brand committed to helping consumers discover "A Healthier Way of Life." All of its soups are USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, sustainably produced, and made from high-quality ingredients that are chemical-, preservative-, and artificial flavoring-free. It has soups to fit several dietary needs, including gluten-free, vegetarian, plant-based, and low-sodium. Its soups come in easy-to-open cartons that can be returned to the refrigerator for easy storage.

Most of Imagine's soups fall well under 500 milligrams of sodium per serving, and the ingredient lists are transparent and simplistic. The soups are all creamy, so if you prefer a chunky soup, these may not suit your liking. That said, for those who enjoy a velvety mouthfeel, this brand will likely tickle your taste buds.

Dare I say that these soups remind me of the ones I make from scratch in terms of flavor and texture? Soup has always been a specialty of mine, and I often create rich and velvety ones without a roux or dairy. For this reason, Imagine's Creamy Potato Leek Soup and Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup are notable. Another unique variety loaded with 25% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A is the Creamy Super Greens Soup. This may be an acquired taste for some, but its use of ginger and coconut cream to temper the bitterness of some of the green veggies is dynamite.

10. True Primal

True Primal Beef & Vegetable Soup
True Primal Beef & Vegetable Soup - True Primal/Facebook

I am including the True Primal brand because there is no denying the quality of the ingredients used in its products. This company produces soups that are intended for those following a paleo diet. They are produced using only grass-fed beef, pastured chickens, and organic vegetables. There is also a lengthy list of ingredients that are not contained in any of its products, including gluten, MSG, yeast, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, artificial flavors or colors, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, soy, canola oil, cellulose, beans, sugar, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, grains, maltodextrin, and dairy. This makes the soups from this company a good bet for many with food allergies or intolerances of different kinds.

Unfortunately, True Primal does not fit some guidelines set forth by nutritionist Jazmine Hall, notably overall sodium content. All of its soups contain more than 500 milligrams per single-pouch serving. This may not be a deal breaker for those who do not need to monitor their sodium intake carefully, but I feel it must be noted.

From the perspective of a clear and simple ingredients list, this brand delivers in spades. Each variety is rife with aromatics and seasonings for amplified flavor. Its catalog of soups is not diverse, but for meat lovers, there is something for everyone. I appreciate that these soups come in convenient, easy-to-open pouches rather than cans. This makes them somewhat easier to store.

11. Rao's Homemade

Bowl Italian Style soup
Bowl Italian Style soup - Rao's Homemade/Facebook

Rao's Homemade may best be known for its premium-quality authentic pasta sauces, but the company also produces a line of delectable soups that taste just as homemade. These soups are packaged in jars similar to the ones in which the sauces are sold. Each container holds 16 ounces of soup, enough for two moderate servings or one large serving. Though a couple of the soups exceed the maximum, many clock in at well under 500 milligrams per 1-cup serving.

The ingredient lists are minimal, in keeping with the standards established for Rao's sauces. The soups have a slow-cooked scratch flavor that is quite impressive, even by my standards. All of the flavors fit within the context of what could be considered classic Italian combinations. My favorites include the Pasta & Fagioli, Chicken & Gnocchi, and Tortellini & Vegetable Soups. And as a simple minestrone goes, you probably won't find much better. This one is chock full of vegetables, just as nutritionist Jazmine Hall notes liking her minestrone. Rao's soups are a bit more expensive, but if you are searching for something to serve for a nice meal and do not have time to make soup from scratch, these would be a good option.

Methodology

Bowl of minestrone
Bowl of minestrone - nblx/Shutterstock

This list of the soup brands with the highest-quality ingredients was a collaborative effort. It began by interviewing Jazmine Hall, a culinary instructor, nutrition educator, and recipe developer with a B.S. in nutrition and dietetics from Queens College. Leaning on her expertise in food and nutrition, I came in using my background as a chef to contribute my perspective based on practical experience and my bent as a culinarian.

When determining brands to include, I factored in how well the products within each brand fit within the nutritional guidelines established by Hall, also evaluating each for texture, flavor, cost, and overall quality. I included first-hand experience when it was appropriate. Where possible, I cross-referenced the recommendations of other nutritionists across the internet and noted customer reviews. These did not determine my final decision on whether a brand was added to the list. I hope that this list will help you stock your pantry with soups that are convenient, nourishing, and delicious.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.