Everything has strengths and weaknesses. Dry soup comes from a powder and canned soup comes from a can. Both are convenient, both are shelf-stable, but which one is better and in which context?
To answer that question, we’ve done a detailed side-by-side comparison looking at a number of attributes. Hopefully this will help you understand why we do what we do. Here’s what we found.
WHAT IS CUGINO'S DRY SOUP MIX?
Cugino’s Chicken Noodle Dry Soup Mix is a dry, powdered seasoning mix which includes egg noodle pasta as well as dehydrated carrots, celery, and potato pieces. You just need to add water to prepare it but it’s encouraged that you add your own fresh chicken as well as fresh vegetables and garnishes. For the purpose of this test, we decided to only use water to prepare both of them. It’s designed to be cooked on a stovetop and cooks in about 15-25 minutes.
WHAT IS CAMPBELL'S CONDENSED CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP?
Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup is a canned, condensed soup which contains egg noodle pasta, chicken broth, and bits of real chicken. The can needs to be mixed with one extra can of water and then heated. The pasta and chicken are pre-cooked so the soup is ready to eat once heated. It can be cooked in the microwave or on a stovetop. There are plenty of studies out there talking about the cautions of microwaves so for this test, we’ve decided to cook them both on the stovetop.
How bad is aluminum for you really? It’s been around for decades and it’s still out there now, like the cans used for Campbell's soup. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states that ingestion of aluminum can lead to decreased mental function, lung problems, brain and bone disease, and some studies show a strong link between aluminum consumption and Alzheimer’s disease (like this one from California Polytechnic State University).
Cugino's soup is packaged in a 3-ply film structure, which currently poses no significant health risks and all components of the material itself are recognized as safe for consumption according to the FDA. While there is reasonable concern for microwaving or heating food in plastic containers, the dry mix is removed from the pouch before being cooked.
All in all, I am overwhelmingly willing to bet my health on the pouch over the aluminum can.
Both products are designed to be simple to use. For Campbell’s, all we had to do was combine the contents of the can with the same amount of water, which I used the can to measure. Stupid simple.
For Cugino’s I had to combine the contents of the pack with 7 cups of water. While it recommended that I add my own freshly cooked (or canned) chicken, as well as celery, onion, carrot, and parsley, all it really required was 7 cups of water.
In regards to convenience, Campbell's has a slight advantage.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Campbell's is designed for 1 or 2 people to eat. Cugino's is designed to feed a family, so with 8 cups (half a gallon!), depending on appetites, you could feed 4-8 people, especially if there are younger kids eating.
Cugino's is definitely the smarter move for families while Campbell's is better for individuals.
If the photos don't speak for themselves, you can see right off the bat that the Campbell's soup looks very plain in regards to content and has a kind of super-saturated yellow to it. There really isn't much visual appeal, to be honest. Cugino's has more color variety, wide noodles, more interest, it just looks more like a homemade soup.
But don't take my word for it, ask yourself which one looks better to you!
With Campbell's, since everything in the can was already pre-cooked, it just needed to be heated up, either in the microwave or on the stove. This took about 5 minutes.
With Cugino's, since the contents are uncooked, it took about 15-20 minutes to cook it to where it was ready to eat. This required a stovetop and could not be done in a microwave.
Campbell's cooks faster at the cost of both texture (and microwave health risks if you go that route).
This is where Cugino's really starts to stand out.
Simply put, the Campbell's noodles are very unpleasant. They come out to a kind of mushy mess. What little chicken there is feels very soft and it's barely holding together due to being stored in liquid for months or even years. Cugino's noodles have a pleasant bite to it and a few vegetables as well. The texture is more like something that was just cooked fresh because, well, it was!
Cugino's wins the texture game hands down!
Numbers speak louder than words here but the key things to note is that Cugino's wins BIG on lower sodium and no MSG. Campbell's has fewer calories and lower carbs but at the cost of higher sodium and the addition of MSG.
We purchased both soups from the same place. Here, Campbell’s condensed soup costs only $1.00 and makes 2.5 cups of soup. This breaks down to about $0.40 for every cup of soup.
Cugino’s costs $2.88 but it makes 8 cups of soup, which is a half gallon! This breaks down to $0.36 per cup of soup. Technically, Cugino’s is the cheaper soup if you are looking to make soup when it comes to price per cup. When feeding more than 2 people or if you like having leftovers, Cugino's is the better financial move.
In this context, Cugino's wins the price game!
Cugino's Soup tastes like something I would make in my own kitchen. Especially with the addition of a few fresh ingredients, it both tastes and feels like a homemade soup. Due to the health aspects, the incredible taste and texture, and the value of feeding a family of 5 or more for $2.88, Cugino's is clearly a soup designed for families who appreciate great taste and great value.
Campbell's, on the other hand, feels like something best eaten over the kitchen sink. The taste isn't bad but the ingredients, the texture, the MSG, and the microwave all remind me that I'm eating something from out of an aluminum can. It is certainly convenient enough to mix with water, heat, and eat but so much is sacrificed for that convenience. Campbell's seems best purchased as an emergency item for a rainy day or a cheap, convenient meal when health is not a concern.
What do you think?
Now we are certainly prone to bias but you're not! We did our best to be fair but even the most naive reader would take this review with a grain of salt (or 890 mg of salt in Campbell's case). Do you agree with our breakdown? Let us know in the comments below!