Soup is delicious, doncha' think? The problem with soup is, once you've had fresh soup, canned soups just taste terrible. The meat is all rubbery, the vegetables are lacking any sense of freshness, and there is a shocking deficiency in flavor and punch considering the salt levels. It was with this desire for good soup that I set about trying various small brands on the supermarket shelves.
Most of the soups didn't stand out. No punch. Pea soup. Tomato soup. It's as though the elimination of meat translated to the elimination of flavor. Two brands stood out with some legitimately inventive-sounding flavors: Pacific Foods and Dr. McDougall.
Pacific Foods soups were the real stars of my endeavor. Every soup of theirs that I tried were punchy, flavorful, thick, and filled with fresh-tasting vegetables and ingredients. I tried their Hearty Carton soups, which are all vegetarian, but unlike Dr McDougall, as we'll see, they didn't sacrifice anything. The Chipotle Sweet Potato and Poblano Pepper and Corn Chowder, my personal faves, were hot enough to knock my girlfriend on her ass. Thick, spicy, and fantastically delicious. The most notable difference between the brands was how firm and fresh all of the potato tasted. Coming from canned soups like Progresso, Pacific soup was a whole new world. Once you try these soups, you'll never go back to Progresso. I look forward to trying their canned soups that include meat.
Pacific Foods Hearty Carton Soups: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Apparently, Dr. McDougall isn't just a food company, but an entire diet company predicated on minimal processing of vegetable matter. Similar to Pacific Foods, the ingredients were firm and fresh. They tasted like home-made soup. Unfortunately, it was made by your good-for-nothing uncle as opposed to Grandma. Unlike Pacific, Dr McDougall only produces vegetarian and vegan foods, and as any good gourmet knows, vegan is a synonym for flavorless. Their minestrone soup has suitable amounts of flavor and presence and isn't too oily. It's a very good pre-made minestrone. Sadly, that bright spot only makes their other soups all the more disappointing. Both tomato soups are oily and have no complexity to their flavor. I had to load them up with pepper, crackers, and parmesan cheese to make them palatable in large amounts. The black bean soup was similar in its complete lack of depth. It was just overwhelming bean. Dark, bland, palate-covering, bean. But, considering the good minestrone, and the quality ingredients, I think that Dr McDougall is at least worth a shot.
Dr McDougall's Soups: RECOMMENDED