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I Tried 10 Trader Joe's Soups & the Winner Was Nutritious & Delicious

The popular specialty grocer is fully stocked with enticing soup options, but which one tastes the best?
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'Tis the season for soup! As soon as the weather gets chilly, I get excited to enjoy all of the wonderful, warming flavors of soup that go with fall and winter. There's pumpkin soup, lentil soup, soups that are light, soups that eat like a meal, and so much more. Seriously, what's better than coming inside on a cold day to a grilled cheese and a big bowl of tomato soup?

Trader Joe's has many varieties of soup for sale this time of year. So, in my quest to find their best soups, I purchased 10 of them and tested them out. Some of them were jarred soups, found in the same aisle as pasta and rice, while others were in plastic containers from the refrigerated foods section. There was one lonely can of TJ's soup in the mix, too. (More on that one later.)

Overall, Trader Joe's has some great soups. The ones from the prepared foods section were, in general, much tastier than the jarred soups. But—and this is a big but—all of the soups contained loads of sodium. Often, soups are high in sodium because it is used in prepared and pre-packaged foods as a preservative and to add flavor. When you make soup at home, you can start with low-sodium broth and control the amount of salt you add.

That said, there are just some days when you don't have time to cut and dice, and in these cases, a soup from Trader Joe's would definitely hit the spot. Here are the 10 soups I tried, ranked from worst to best.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bisque

trader joe's pumpkin bisque
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 380 cal, 27 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 770 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (4 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 4 g protein

Priced at $4.99, this pumpkin bisque had a very strong smell out of the jar and was giving me PSL vibes, but not in a good way. The consistency made me think it was pumpkin-spiced baby food. The taste was overly sweet. At 22 grams of sugar per serving, it's no wonder! The ingredients listed garlic and onion but all I could taste was something more akin to a seasonal candle. This was the only soup that I didn't even bother save the leftovers, and I would never buy it again.

Rating: 1

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Trader Joe's Calabrian Chili Tomato Dumpling Soup

trader joe's calabrian chili tomato dumpling soup
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 250 cal, 16 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 740 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (1 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 5 g protein

The first thing I noticed when I went to heat up this soup, which cost $4.99, was how few dumplings there were—and how tiny they were! The soup tasted like eating straight up tomato sauce with gnocchi (and not a lot of them). The addition of chilis gave this soup a good amount of heat, but not a lot of flavor. I might pour this over pasta, but as a soup, it wasn't great.

Rating: 3

Trader Joe's Italian-Style Wedding Soup

trader joe's italian style wedding soup
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 150 cal, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 7 g protein

I love making Ina Garten's flavorful Italian wedding soup. So, when I saw this jarred version for $4.99, I was excited to give it a try. Through the glass, I could see tons of little meatballs, plus acini di pepe in chicken broth. Unfortunately, after heating and taking a bite, I was totally underwhelmed by how bland this soup was. The beef meatballs were flavorless and the whole thing just tasted like chicken broth. I recommend skipping this and making the Barefoot Contessa's rendition instead.

Rating: 4

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Trader Joe's Kettle Cooked Chicken Soup

trader joe's kettle cooked chicken soup
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 100 cal, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 610 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 13 g protein

This is a pretty basic chicken soup for $4.99, and to be honest, it was pretty disappointing. There were no noodles or rice, just chicken soup—and nary a matzoh ball in sight! The soup was bland and needed lots of salt and pepper, but I did like the big pieces of real chicken. This soup would be okay to have on a sick day.

Rating: 5

Trader Joe's Garden Vegetable Soup

trader joe's garden vegetable soup
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 100 cal, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 2 g protein

Vegetable soup is usually one of the more boring (albeit healthy) options, so I didn't have high expectations for this soup, which cost a little less than many others at just $3.99. Surprisingly, it was pretty flavorful! I would keep this one on hand in my pantry for a quick meal, but would need to add some protein and maybe pasta to make it more substantial. Still, the high sodium content would probably keep it from being in my regular rotation.

Rating: 5.5

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Trader Joe's Unexpected Broccoli Cheddar Soup

trader joe's unexpected broccoli cheddar soup
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 220 cal, 14 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 780 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 10 g protein

Honestly, I would not normally pick up a soup that looked so creamy, but this "unexpected" soup for $4.99 was actually quite tasty. I loved the big pieces of real broccoli in it, and although it needed salt, the soup had a good flavor. Even though creamy soups scare me in terms of nutrition, overall, this one was lower in fat than some of the other soups on my list, and the broccoli florets earned it an extra two points for sure.

Rating: 6

Trader Joe's White Bean Chicken Chili Soup

trader joe's white bean chicken chili
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 170 cal, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 23g carbs (6 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 9 g protein

Now, this is a chili I would probably pick up for lunch. At $4.99, it's high in fiber and protein, while staying relatively low in calories, sodium, and fat. Although it had a brown sludgy look that wasn't the most visually appealing, this made for a hearty meal. While the chilis gave the soup heat, it was hot but not flavorful. I did enjoy the chicken in this chili and would probably get it again.

Rating: 6

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Trader Joe's Lobster Bisque

trader joe's lobster bisque
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 container): 530 cal, 44 g fat (27 g saturated fat), 1690 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (2 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 11 g protein

The first time I tried lobster bisque as a kid, I was so wowed by the flavor that to me a good bowl of it is like liquid gold. Though it's been a while since I've indulged in any bisque, this one for $4.99 was definitely restaurant quality. Made with butter, sherry wine, and fresh thyme, it had a great combination of flavors and made me feel like I was at a seaside restaurant. Still, looking at the nutritional info—so high in fat and sodium!—I would be remiss to finish this container.

Rating: 7

Trader Joe's Tomato Feta Soup

trader joe's tomato feta soup
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 130 cal, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 800 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 4 g protein

At $4.49, this soup is highly regarded by fans of Trader Joe's and for good reason. For starters, it has a rich, beautiful red color, and the addition of feta takes it to the next level, flavor-wise. After tasting this, it would be difficult to go back to regular ol' Campbell's. I want a grilled cheese to dip into it right now.

Rating: 8

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Trader Joe's Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup

trader joe's organic lentil
Ronnie Koenig for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 cup): 210 cal, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 700 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (9 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein

I almost didn't pick up this can of soup because frankly, it looked a little sad next to all of the other options, but I'm so glad I did! This lentil soup had a beautiful fall harvest color right out of the can that made me want to dig in. And although it needed lots of salt and pepper, this soup was mostly nutritious and delicious. While I'm a little worried about the high sodium here, this is one I'd toss in my shopping cart again. Added bonus: at $2.49, it's also the most affordable option of the whole haul!

Rating: 8.5

Ronnie Koenig
Ronnie Koenig has written about food, drink, travel and culture for The New York Times, TODAY, The Atlantic and many others. Read more about Ronnie