I Tried 9 Store-Bought Tomato Soups & the Winner Was Savory & Not Too Sweet
Few supermarket staples are more quintessentially American than tomato soup. That iconic Campbell's soup can with the red-and-white label has graced store shelves since 1898—over a half century before it was famously immortalized in the works of pop artist Andy Warhol.
But, tomato soup is more than just a pop cultural icon. It's tasty, affordable, easy to make, and goes perfectly with grilled cheese. That specific soup-sandwich pairing itself is a classic American combo, like a burger and fries, or chicken and waffles. Is there anything more comforting than a rich, gooey grilled cheese sandwich, balanced by the beautiful acidity and slight sweetness of warm tomato soup?
Today, of course, you'll find a lot more options for slurping and sandwich dipping beyond the regular ol' Campbell's. Many newer brands, in fact, put modern spins on the traditional lunchtime favorite. Some even shed the classic metal can for a boxy, paper carton container. But, do any of these newcomers actually taste better than the original?
I rounded up nine different varieties, including the classic Campbell's, to find the best tasting brand of tomato soup in stores right now. I prepared every single one of these in the traditional fashion: pouring the soup into a pot and heating it up on the stove. Here's how each one stacked up against the rest, ranked in descending order from my least favorite to the absolute best tomato soup you can buy in a store.
Kettle & Fire Savory Tomato Bone Broth Soup
Kettle & Fire's stated mission is "to deliver the amazing benefits of bone broth to the world." Apparently, that delivery includes blending its healthy bone broth into otherwise good-as-is recipes, like tomato soup. This brand was the most expensive of the bunch, costing me $8.99.
The Look: Just wrong. The smell is bad, too, but the look is even worse. When you think tomato soup, you think maybe a slight orange hue, and a beautiful creamy top with steam coming off the sides. Here, you have the aforementioned bone broth broken on top, making this look more like a fatty puddle of nothingness. Broken fat on top is unappealing to the eyes, of course, but it also disrupts the flavor from the soup itself. If the fat is on top, the fat is not in my soup.
The Taste: Inexplicably sour. When I put this soup in my mouth, I gagged. My roommate looked at me and said, "You're being dramatic." Then, he took a bite and gagged, too. Tomatoes are acidic and a little sweet, bone broth is rich, salt is salty, and yet we emerge from this combination of ingredients with a flavor akin to a Sour Patch Kid.
Annie's Creamy Tomato & Bunny Pasta Soup
Annie's is a company that I expect top-shelf quality from. Its white cheddar shells mac and cheese is one of the best boxed brands around. This soup, however, maybe the disappointing problem child of Annie's family. One redeeming quality: the pasta is shaped like little bunnies—a whimsical touch, and I absolutely love it. The can cost me $4.79.
The Look: To be totally fair to Annie's, it doesn't look bad. I just had a different image in my head. The pasta sunk to the bottom and just sort of stayed there. I was imagining more of an alphabet soup vibe, with the bunnies floating atop the soup. Instead, it's more like the bunnies are asleep. And overcooked. And bland.
The Taste: My disappointment is immeasurable and my sadness is absolute. Once again: sour. Not nearly as sour as the Kettle & Fire soup, but the primary note coming from the broth is definitely sour in nature. The pasta also did not hold up to whatever canning process occurred here. It's starchy, overcooked, and bland. Overall, this needs some sweetness and some salt—some of everything, honestly.
Pacific Organic Garden Tomato Oat Milk Soup
Pacific Foods offers a wide array of broths and soups, which commonly line the middle aisles at your local supermarket. The company describes this particular plant-based blend of tomato and oat milk as "truly unique." This soup cost me $5.99.
The Look: Call me crazy, but I really like the bright orange color of this soup. The oat milk gives it a rich, vibrant tone that makes it very appealing. Throw on some fried croutons and a little sliver of cream, and you could put this on the cover of a magazine. Maybe without the plastic bowl from Target, but still.
The Taste: It's not bad, but it's definitely off. The oat milk is a very nice idea for my dairy-free friends, however, I would counter with the idea that you can have a tomato soup without any dairy. There are several below that don't have a dairy additive that will be way tastier. This has all the makings of a great tomato soup, but the oat milk gives it a strange aftertaste I wasn't too keen on. This is well seasoned, creamy, smooth, and yet that oat milk.
Imagine Organic Garden Tomato Creamy Soup
Imagine is a better-for-you brand that carries over 50 varieties of USDA-certified organic broths, soups, and the like. This light-sodium garden tomato soup cost me $5.69.
The Look: Why is it brown? How did this happen? In a world of soups that sport very pretty red and orange hues, I have to wonder why Imagine settled for this brownness. It's not bad. Plenty of great soups have a brown color: Beef stew, gumbo, chili, etc. But, those soups all have a very clear reason for being brown, and I expect them to be brown, whereas this leaves me perplexed to say the least.
The Taste: Spaghetti-O's. This tastes almost exactly like Spaghetti-O's. Just as synthetic, just as weirdly sweet, yet kind of good. If you've ever thought to yourself, "I love Spaghetti-O's, but I hate all those fussy O's" then this is the soup for you. This certainly isn't the route I'd go for a comforting and natural tasting tomato soup, but that Spaghetti-O flavor isn't the worst thing in the world, either.
Trader Joe's Organic Creamy Tomato Soup
This low-sodium and organic creamy tomato soup from beloved specialty grocer Trader Joe's retails for $3.49.
The Look: It looks a little watery, to be honest. This soup could have been thicker and it would have gone a long way in taste and presentation. It looks thinned out and unappealing, and it tastes that way, too.
The Taste: I put this in my mouth and thought I needed to take a Covid test, because there was just zero flavor happening on my tongue. That's being dramatic, but this soup tasted watered down. This soup had the makings and the flavors to be very tasty, it just feels diluted. I know it's a low-sodium variety, but low sodium doesn't have to mean low flavor.
Campbell's Tomato Soup
This is the alpha of the tomato soup world. It's been around for a century, and it'll be around for another one. So, while Campbell's may no longer deliver the best soup on the market, this will remain the standard by which other tomato soup is compared until the end of time. A can of the iconic soup cost me $1.49.
The Look: Perfect. This is the standard by which the appearance of all other tomato soups is judged. This is probably the first tomato soup you ever had, and odds are the only tomato soup you've ever had.
The Taste: Campbells is not the best soup out there. It is, however, the classic taste. It's a little sweet, and extremely high in sodium, but it's still good. The tomato flavor doesn't really come through, it just sort of tastes like salt and sugar. But, who doesn't like salt and sugar?
Campbell's Homestyle Tomato Soup
In addition to its original tomato soup, Campbell's also offers this "homestyle" version with basil. One can cost me $2.29.
The Look: Like tomato soup, which, among the various options this list, is somehow a win. It looks like puréed tomatoes in a bowl, and honestly, that's all I've ever wanted.
The Taste: If you put tomato and basil in anything, I'm going to enjoy it, and this was no exception. The basil flavor comes through very nicely as a compliment to the tomato, and unlike the original, this doesn't have that cloying sweetness to it. The original might have the nostalgia factor, but the homestyle version has it beat in every other category.
Trader Joe's Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Despite the general deliciousness of Trader Joe's products, I'm always happy when TJ's isn't the number one option. I get voter fatigue, I'm tired of Joe's always winning. However, this is still a top-notch soup. It cost me $3.49.
The Look: Deep red. Probably because of the peppers, the color is much darker than the others. It also benefits from a lovely smell coming up from the bowl.
The Taste: A bit like false advertising. This is supposed to be tomato soup, but I can't even taste tomatoes. This is really a roasted red pepper soup. The red pepper flavor permeates the whole soup, which isn't a bad thing. Actually, it really elevates an experience that would otherwise just be okay at best. It's warm, it's perfectly seasoned, and the red pepper flavor makes it feel so savory and comforting to eat. The taste itself really fantastic, but if you're looking for tomato flavor, which is sort of the point, this isn't the one.
Progresso Creamy Tomato With Basil
Progresso delivers on high-quality Italian favorites on a fairly consistent basis. This tomato soup really tastes more like tomato sauce in a bowl, but that's why I liked it so much. One can cost me $3.49.
The Look: This is definitely the deepest red we've gotten so far, and it looks amazing. The aroma of the basil and that deep red color make this a very eye-catching bowl of soup.
The Taste: Far and away the best canned soup of the day. Every spice, especially the basil, explodes on your palate, and the tomatoes themselves lack that sweetness that I often dislike in a tomato soup. This is as savory as tomato soup gets, with the acid of the tomatoes playing off the flavor of the basil to perfection.