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How do chicken noodle soups in a can stack up? We ranked grocery store favorites

Brenda Cain and Yadi Rodriguez
Cleveland Plain Dealer
How do cans of chicken noodle soup at the grocery store stack up? In a taste test of 35 soups, a variety from Campbell's called Well Yes was our top pick.

Grandma sure was on to something when she served a big bowl of chicken noodle soup when the sniffles hit.

According to WebMD, chicken noodle soup appears to help fight colds by clearing nasal congestion as well as thinning mucus. And as winter settles in (as well as allergy season), we’re all looking for some comfort. It’s the perfect time to get cozy with some good soup.

We tasted 35 varieties of chicken noodle soup, purchased at Cleveland-area grocery stores, and ranked them. We didn't like any of these soups: Healthy Valley Organic Chicken Noodle, Gardein Plant-Based Chick’n Noodl’, Simply Nature Organic Chicken Noodle, Campbell's Condensed Chicken NoodleO’s, Campbell's Healthy Request Condensed Chicken Noodle and Progresso Organic Chicken Noodle.

The Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle that many of us grew up eating landed at No. 26 out of 35. It's a nostalgic soup, but certainly not the best canned chicken noodle soup on the shelf. Here are our top 25:

No. 25: Amy's No Chicken Noodle

Price: $2.37

Our thoughts: This “no chicken” chicken did offer a decent flavor, though the texture did not grade high. There are lots of veggies and noodles, both over-cooked.

No. 24: Campbell's Condensed Homestyle Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.67

Our thoughts: This was one of the better condensed soups. The broth is a tad salty but offered a pleasing chicken taste. We could visually see the herb seasonings. The carrots were plentiful, as were the small noodles, but there were very few chicken pieces. Very reminiscent of the boxed chicken noodle soups.

Annie's Organic Chicken Noodle Soup was one of the top 25 in a recent taste test of grocery store chicken noodle soups.

No. 23: Annie's Organic Chicken Noodle

Price: $3.49

Our thoughts: The broth was cloudy, and had a slight tin can taste. There were plenty of noodles. The pieces of carrots and celery were small and the chicken was chewy.

No. 22: Great Value Organic Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.98

Our thoughts: Oddly, the carrots were the best part of this soup as slices, rather than dices, and remained firm and had good flavor. The broth was cloudy and a bit bland. The chicken was chewy and the plentiful noodles were mushy.

No. 21 Progresso Light Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.43

Our thoughts: Very thin, clear and bland broth was filled with plenty of large, firm noodles and pieces of vegetables. There were also plenty of large pieces of chicken. This is a great soup if you have the flu and need nourishment but need to keep your diet light and bland.

No. 20: Progresso Reduced Sodium Roasted Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.43

Our thoughts: Salt does a lot to enhance flavor, and the reduced sodium in this soup reduced the richness of the broth. This soup also had fewer noodles than the other soups from this brand. It did, however, have plenty of large, square pieces of chicken and large pieces of celery and carrots.

Campbell's has numerous canned soups on the market, including this Healthy Request Condensed Chicken Noodle, but its Well Yes soup won a recent taste test.

No. 19: Campbell's Homestyle Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.48

Our thoughts: Interestingly, there were large rectangular pieces of chicken, but they didn’t taste much like real chicken. There were plenty of slices of carrots and a good soup-to-noodle ratio. The broth offered a decent flavor and was not greasy.

No. 18: Progresso Traditional 99% Fat Free Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.43

Our thoughts: The fat-free nature of this soup makes it a bit ho-hum, but if you’re looking for something with less fat, this is a decent option. There were plenty of noodles and carrots but not so much celery. The broth was thinner — more watery — than most from this brand.

No. 17: Campbell's Chunky Creamy Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.59

Our thoughts: If you like a cream-based soup, this is a good option. The broth had a pleasing creamy consistency with a mild chicken flavor. There’s even a note of bacon in the broth. There were plenty of carrots in this one.

No. 16: Progresso Traditional Hearty Chicken & Rotini

Price: $1.43

Our thoughts: There were plenty of bigger carrot and chicken pieces and a rich broth filled with larger rotini noodles. There are fewer celery chunks than most Progresso soups. Good flavor, but the downside is the larger ingredients equal less soup.

No. 15: Great Value Healthy Chicken & Noodle

Price: $1.42

Our thoughts: This broth was flavorful and offered plenty of noodles, but we wanted more chicken. After all, it is chicken noodle soup.

No. 14: Progresso Light Creamy Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.43

Our thoughts: A thinner, though still creamy, broth offered plenty of firm slices of carrots and broad noodles. Sadly, the pieces of chicken were smaller and there was a slight after-taste. Still, a strong entry in the chicken soup race.

No. 13: Progresso Toppers Chicken Noodle with Oyster Crackers

Price: $3.29

Our thoughts: If you are going to the office or are a student, there’s a lot to like about this soup for an easy lunch. First, the crackers were crisp and flavorful and really added to the soup, which also had a comforting flavor. For such a small cup, there were plenty of big pieces of carrots and chicken, though we would have enjoyed more chicken. There were plenty of firm noodles as well. Big noodles. On the downside, the chicken was a bit chewy.

No. 12: Campbell's Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.67

Our thoughts: For a canned soup, this one was more on par with a soup you’d get in a family restaurant. Lots of large pieces of carrots and celery and a good amount of chicken — with thick noodles and spices. The broth was thicker and not as greasy as many others, though a tad salty. It had a good, homey flavor.

No. 11: Progresso Traditional Creamy Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.43

Our thoughts: This creamy broth had a pleasant chicken flavor and a pleasing consistency. Packed with big pieces of chicken and carrots, though not as much celery.

No. 10: Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Noodle

Price: $3

Our thoughts: Chicken soup in a box? Don’t let the packaging put you off; it’s worth a try. This was the only one that added peas to the vegetable mix. The onions were also a plus — they were sweet and mild and added a pleasant zip. The spiral noodles were hearty and had a nice consistency. But where’s the chicken? Chicken noodle soup shouldn’t skimp on the chicken.

No. 9: Campbell's Chunky Healthy Request Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.53

Our thoughts: This was the first soup we tried that offered that comforting “homemade” experience. The aroma filled the kitchen as it heated up, and there were herbs visible in the broth. The broth offered a rich chicken flavor and was filled with chunky pieces of celery, carrots, chicken and thick noodles. Unlike a homemade soup, the chicken was a little bit on the chewy side and it was hard to detect the herbs' flavors.

No. 8: Wolfgang Puck Organic Free Range Chicken Noodle

Price: $2.99

Our thoughts: If you want chicken in every bite, this is the soup for you! There are chunks of chicken, as well as crumbles of ground chicken that more than satisfy any chicken cravings. The broth was rich, though a tad salty and slightly greasy. There were plenty of onions and celery and large, firm noodles. Visually, the color of the broth is not that lemonlike yellow expected from chicken soup, but don’t let that throw you off — the taste is there.

No. 7: Fit & Active Chicken Noodle Chunky

Price: $1.42

Our thoughts: This is a great soup for the price. Full of good flavor and lots of carrots, celery, noodles and chicken. This chicken actually tasted like chicken.

No. 6: Healthy Choice Chicken Noodle

Price: $2.49

Our thoughts: Made with bone broth, this broth had a richer flavor than most of the soups we sampled. It also had the best chicken from a consistency factor. There was plenty of chicken, carrots and celery, as well as noodles. Slightly bland in the herb department, but the natural ingredients make this a good one when you are feeling under the weather or want some warmth in a bowl.

No. 5: Rao's Italian Style Chicken Noodle

Price: $3.58

Our thoughts: Another soup that gave us that “homemade” experience. The glass jar makes the cloudy nature of the broth apparent, but that is the nature of a soup made from scratch at home. There is a definite Italian bent to the flavor.

No. 4: Campbell's Slow Kettle Style Roasted Chicken Noodle

Price: $2.67

Our thoughts: This convenience food lives up to Campbell’s marketing slogan: “M’mm good.” This thicker soup was seasoned well and had plenty of chicken cubes and pieces of carrots, onions and celery. The noodles are spiral and brought a nice texture. Definitely a good choice when looking for an easy lunch or snack. The container is also microwavable.

No. 3: Progresso Rich & Hearty Chicken & Homestyle Noodles

Price: $1.43

Our thoughts: “Rich and hearty” is more than just a marketing ploy here. This soup is just that. The rich chicken broth had a good consistency with lots of chicken and noodles, firm carrot pieces and some celery and herbs. The noodles stayed firm. This can had the perfect amount of salt — enough to give the soup flavor but not overpowering. The chicken was slightly on the chewy side.

No. 2: Progresso Traditional Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.43

Our thoughts: This is a true chicken noodle soup oozing with homemade flavor. The broth was thin, but not watery, and full of celery, carrots and thick noodles. It even contained that “chicken fat” (in a good way) goodness you get from a soup that has spent hours simmering on your stove.

No. 1: Campbell's Well Yes! Chicken Noodle

Price: $1.98

Our thoughts: Don’t pass up this soup on your grocer’s shelf. This chicken soup is unique. The broth had a deep rich flavor and a vegetable blend no other soup offered. There are the standard carrots, onions and celery, but added to that are white beans and small dices of tomatoes, which add a deeper dimension to the flavor. The noodles were not as thick, but they remained firm, bringing a nice texture to every bite. This soup will quickly become a new favorite at your house.