Bust Out the Big Spoons for the Best Chicken Noodle Soup (with Trevor Evarts!)

Chicken noodle soup is the stuff we crave when it’s cold out, and also when we’re feeling under the weather. As far as the best sick foods go (maybe another article), I’d put chicken noodle soup at number one right ahead of saltine crackers and Gatorade Zero. That’s my flu emergency kit right there. C.N.S. (chicken noodle soup) is light, refreshing, filling, and nutritious. And when seasoned well, it’s a nice meal even when you’re perfectly healthy. 

For this taste test, I microwaved all the soups we tried. Trevor Evarts from Mythical Kitchen joined us for this one, and we agreed that quality ingredients and adequate seasoning are the top two criteria for a good C.N.S. It should be well seasoned with salt, shouldn’t skimp on the chicken, and should bring a freshly aromatic flavor from vegetables and herbs. It should also feel like your grandma made it—and if it doesn’t, there should be enough salt in there to make us forget it’s not homemade.

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Best of The Best

Rao’s Chicken Noodle Soup

This is basically homemade chicken noodle soup sold in a jar. The noodles feel homemade—eggy, substantial, and delightfully chewy. And the herbaceousness is on par with what you’d expect from a homemade soup. It’s beautifully aromatic. This is also far and away the most flavorful chicken noodle soup on this list. And what do we say here at Sporked? If it has an appropriate amount of salt and pepper, chances are it tastes great and ranks high. Rao’s nails the seasoning and flavor, and the quality ingredients are all top notch. It’s like your grandma made it and put it in one of her jars.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best Chicken Flavor

Chef’s Cupboard Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

This is an Aldi’s product, and it was a big hit with all of us. Trevor exclaimed with glee, “Yeah! That’s a flavor!” Chef’s Cupboard does have a unique quality that makes it stand out among all the soups on this list: It’s the fattiest of the soups we tried. There’s a thin layer of oil on the top, and Jordan astutely pointed out that the chicken tastes like dark meat. That means this soup is savory and rich. It’s also well salted, with a strong chicken flavor. The noodles are toothsome, as well. This one is up there with Rao’s. It’d be a crime to sleep on it.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Vegan

Gardein Plant-Based Chick’n Noodl’

We all agreed this vegan chicken noodle soup should rank high even though it has no chicken in it. Why? Because it tastes like chicken, and that’s kind of amazing. This soup is more flavorful than the soups ranked below it, but without any meat products. That’s crazy! It’s got MSG listed in the ingredients, so that does the heavy lifting as far as umami goes, and the rest of it is well seasoned and quite nuanced. You get the hearty, comforting vibes of a classic chicken noodle soup despite it being vegetarian. It’s a big win for plant-based soups.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Creamy

Campbell’s Chunky Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

This isn’t a traditional chicken noodle soup, and I actually don’t know if it qualifies as a chicken noodle soup because it’s creamy. But, hey, the label says chicken noodle, so we have to judge it as such. It’s quite good and kind of reminds me of the inside of a chicken pot pie, or a clam chowder if you replaced the clams with chicken. It gets by completely on its creaminess, but that’s okay. Just don’t buy this expecting anything brothy. This is a hearty soup for winter, but not one I’d eat while I’m sick. Plus, it almost feels like cheating to add cream.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Condensed

Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup

You know, I completely forgot to add water to this condensed soup during the taste test, and Trevor immediately remarked how salty it was. My bad! But here’s the thing: We all loved the salt! It kept us coming back for more. Yes, it was very salty, but not inedible. Everyone has different tolerances, but I’m telling you we all walked away from this one thinking, “Wow, maybe you don’t need to add water to condensed soup.” Could be that our palates are brutalized from doing this for a living, but we loved the intense seasoning. There’s almost no chicken in here and the noodles are thin strands, but it’s still a nice soup. And there’s something comforting about how cheap and nostalgic it is.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best for When You’re Sick

Progresso Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup

Trevor said this was the soup he put into a bowl and microwaved as a kid. It’s really bland, but I think that makes it the best soup for when you’re sick and you just want something bland and filling. That’s what this is, but in a good way (if that makes sense). Don’t expect much flavor, but do expect a delightfully clean taste.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best Vegetable Forward

Campbell’s Well Yes! Chicken Noodle Soup

Campbell’s Well Yes! tops a lot of our competitors’ lists of best chicken noodle soups (yes, we cross check those), but I don’t think it deserves to be ranked that high. This has a pleasant herby flavor and nice big hunks of vegetables, but it’s too under seasoned to be anywhere in the top five. In addition to carrots, celery, and tomato, it also contains some white beans—a bold choice. The chicken flavor isn’t very strong, and you need to season it yourself. But if you like vegetables, this soup might just be for you.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

Other products we tried: Campbell’s Chunky Chicken Noodle, Annie’s Organic, Healthy Choice, Wolfgang Puck, Pacific Foods, Whole Foods 365, Great Value, Kettle & Fire, Progresso Hearty Chicken and Rotini.

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About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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  • Truly an invaluable guide in the age of COVID. I was mainlining Campbell’s and goldfish for days.

    Also appreciate the good work of letting us know which Rao’s products are legit and which are just priced like Rao’s.

    Reply