Is it weird that we set out to find the best potato soup when it’s very hot outside? Perhaps, but this was a reader request. I cannot promise all reader requests will be fulfilled, but if we can swing it, we will. We love you people. And thank you for wanting our expert, informed opinions on soup!
Anyway, on a recent steamy Southern California afternoon, I microwaved a bunch of bowls of store bought potato soup. Some came in cans. Others came in cups you could just pop in the microwave. One was a dehydrated, just-add-milk situation. Regardless of the soup’s packaging, we were looking for actual potato flavor. I’m sure the person who requested this ranking will find that really revelatory: According to a professional food taste tester, potato soup should, in fact, taste like potatoes! If it’s a creamy soup, it should be luscious without seeming phony and slick like so many canned soups do. And if it’s a brothy soup, it should be packed with chunks of well-cooked potato; no grainy potatoes, plz. Here are our picks for the best store bought potato soup.
- Bear Creek Country Kitchens Creamy Potato Soup Bowl
Considering this potato soup starts as a reconstituted powder (you just add milk to the little microwavable bowl), it’s super creamy. It’s pretty much the consistency of sawmill gravy. Seriously, if you’ve ever wanted to eat white gravy like it’s soup, you’ve come to the right place (i.e., a place called Bear Creek Country Kitchens). The best thing about this soup, though? It’s potatoey, peppery, and has a deep, savory flavor, likely because it contains MSG (yum). But here’s where I get to the caveat: This is not the best potato soup for people looking for big chunks of potato. This soup has potato shreds in it—kind of like hash brown shreds—and, sadly, they didn’t fully rehydrate after being cooked in the microwave. But, I repeat, the flavor is so good. Naturally, this soup is absolutely packed with sodium, but if you want something extremely comforting, rib sticking, and you aren’t married to the idea of consuming big chunks of potato in your potato soup, this stuff rules.
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- Campbell’s Slow Kettle Style Loaded Potato with a Crunch
Campbell’s, you had me at “with a crunch.” Yep, this little microwavable cup of soup comes with its own cup of accoutrements (mini croutons and little dehydrated parmesan cheese crisps) and they genuinely add crunch and interest to this potato soup. The soup itself is very bacon forward, which is great, but, again, there are almost no potato chunks in here. In a way, the crunchy stuff makes up for it. It’s not the most potatoey soup, but it’s definitely fun to eat. And it’s way better than Campbell’s Chunky Baked Potato Cheddar & Bacon soup, which tasted burnt, nearly rancid to me. Buy this Campbell’s loaded potato soup, not that Campbell’s loaded potato soup!
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- Rao’s Sausage & Potato with Cannellini Beans
If you want a potato soup that isn’t chowdery—one that’s brothy rather than creamy—this is the best potato soup at the grocery store by a mile. It’s packed with tender cubes of potato, plus bits of a leafy green (spinach), onion, creamy cannellini beans, and little morsels of sausage. The broth takes on some of the nice fennel flavor from the sausage—delicious. This soup is very, very much like a homemade soup, but saltier. This reminds me of a soup you’d make at home after seeing Giada De Laurentiis make it on Food Network.
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- Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup
I’m sorry to report that our best of the best potato soup isn’t quite a 10-Spork item. It’s good! But other Panera soups are better. This one benefits from the fact that most packaged potato soup isn’t very good! (Progresso, girl, you need to step it up.) TBH, I wish Bear Creek and Panera could get together on the banks of a river somewhere, solemnly shake hands, and join forces to combine the best things about their respective soups. Basically, I want the flavor of the Bear Creek with the more substantial potato chunks and nice, chewy bacon pieces in this Panera soup. Overall, it’s a good, filling potato soup and a lot better than what you’ll get out of a can in most cases. The potato is super creamy and delicious. The texture is great; the flavor just needs a little oomph. In the meantime, it’s still the best potato soup at the grocery store.
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Best with Stuff
Best of the Best
Other potato soups we tried: Deutsche Kuche Harvest Potato, Progresso Loaded, Campbell’s Chunky Loaded