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We all wish we had the kind of time that goes into making a homemade soup from scratch, which often involves simmering for hours on the stove to let the flavors marry and allow the consistency to thicken to perfection. Realistically, though, there seem to never be enough hours in the day, especially workdays, to make your own soup. Luckily, there are plenty of tasty canned soup options from which to choose, and while canned foods may not have the most glamorous reputation, these soups can rival homemade and give you valuable time back.
Before choosing a canned soup, you should check the nutrition label and ingredient list, especially if you have any allergies or are trying to adhere to any special diet. It's also a good idea to pay attention to serving instructions and packaging—some soup is perfect for taking on the road or preparing in a dorm room.
From cozy classics like chicken noodle and creamy tomato to fun flavors like loaded potato, here are our top picks for canned soup.
Best Chicken Noodle: Wolfgang Puck Organic Free Range Chicken Noodle Soup
Made with free-range chicken
On the pricier side
Moderate to heavy sodium
Chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck may be famous for his many restaurants and for catering celebrity galas, but he also sells culinary appliances and quality packaged foods, such as this chicken noodle soup. Though canned soup doesn’t typically have a “gourmet” reputation, Wolfgang Puck is here to change that with his soup that’s free-range and organic. It boasts your standard chicken noodle ingredients: egg noodles, carrots, celery, and enough herbs and spices to ensure plenty of flavor in every spoonful.
Unlike many other canned or packaged chicken noodle soup options, this one is not overwhelmingly salty, but it does manage to still taste well-seasoned. Serving suggestions include a sprinkle of dill as a fresh touch before dining, and no water is required for prep. Whether you’re feeling under the weather and in need of a cold cure, or simply craving this comfort food classic, this is a soup you’ll want to have on hand in your pantry.
Calories (per can): 170 | Sodium: 1,420 milligrams | Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams | Protein: 7 grams | Added Sugar: < 1 gram
Best Vegetarian: Amy's Hearty Organic Rustic Italian Vegetable Soup
Plant-based protein source
Moderate to heavy sodium
Vegetable soups can be just as filling as those with meat, and Amy’s does a great job of loading this canned soup with super-hearty, vegetarian-friendly ingredients like beans, mushrooms, and brown rice, in addition to veggies (tomatoes, zucchini, onions, peppers, and kale), to ensure this soup feels substantial and satiating. This well-seasoned soup is so chock-full of ingredients that it is arguably more stew-like in consistency; so for those who prefer chunkier, textured soups, this one is for you.
Despite having no added sugar, the soup has a pleasant, mild sweetness to it and does not feel overly salted. No water is required; it’s ready to heat and serve right out of the can. This is also a great option for those with other dietary restrictions: It’s organic, vegan, Kosher, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, tree nut-free, and corn-free. If you’re looking for a lower sodium option, you’ll be pleased to know that Amy’s also offers a reduced-sodium version of this soup (960 milligrams per can).
Calories (per can): 310 | Sodium: 1,320 milligrams | Saturated Fat: 2 grams | Protein: 8 grams | Added Sugar: 0 grams
Best Tomato: Campbell's Homestyle Harvest Tomato with Basil Soup
Mild basil flavor
High in sodium and added sugar
On a rainy or cold winter day, few things are more satisfying than a steaming bowl of tomato soup (even better if accompanied by a grilled cheese). But not all tomato soups are created equal. Campbell’s tomato soup is exactly what we want. Flavored with a hint of basil and definitely on the sweeter end of the soup spectrum, this option has a minimal ingredient list (which we appreciate) and gets back to basics in the best way.
If chunky soup is your thing, this probably will not do it for you, as this soup is perfectly pureed and is as smooth as can be (perfect for dipping that grilled cheese!). Whether you’re eating this on its own, or accompanying it with a salad or sandwich, this tomato soup fits the bill. Heating is super easy, and no additional water is required.
Calories (per can): 230 | Sodium: 1,710 milligrams | Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams | Protein: 5 grams | Added Sugar: 22 grams
“Salt limits bacterial growth, so by adding a certain amount of salt to a soup, they’re reducing the amount of bacteria and extending shelf life and making it safer. If you find a canned soup too salty, add something unsalted to the can, whether it’s water, potatoes, or rice, and that will naturally balance out the salt. Or, I’d rather get a low-sodium/no-salt-added soup and add my own salt at home." — Sam Eckstein, co-founder of Springbone Kitchen
Best Potato: Campbell's Chunky Baked Potato with Cheddar & Bacon Bits Soup
Rich in protein
Fun, familiar flavor profile
Longer ingredient list
Higher in calories, sodium, and saturated fat
Bacon lovers, this one is for you. More chowder than soup, you know you’re in for a not-your-average canned soup experience when the can says “soup that eats like a meal.” With 400 calories and 10 grams of protein per can, this is certainly one of the heavier soups in the lineup, and is for those looking for something extra-satiating and more like a full meal.
This would be a great soup for entertaining during the Super Bowl (and would be even better served in a bread bowl). All you have to do is heat it up; no water is required. And with the beloved, familiar flavors of a fully-loaded baked potato, complete with bacon and cheese, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. If bacon is not your thing, you may want to steer clear, as the flavor is quite predominant.
Calories (per can): 400 | Sodium: 1,720 milligrams | Saturated Fat: 5 grams | Protein: 10 grams | Added Sugar: 2 grams
Best Organic: Amy's Kitchen Soup, Vegan, Gluten Free, Organic Kale, Quinoa and Red Lentil
No added sugar
High in (plant-based) protein
Great option for those with allergies
Ingredients are not very kid-friendly
Amy’s is known for being a primarily organic brand, so if you’re looking for an organic canned soup, it makes sense to start here. Not only is this soup organic, but it’s also vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and tree nut-free. Boasting lentils, quinoa, and vegetables, this soup is so chock-full of ingredients you could argue it qualifies as a stew—perfect if you’re looking for something hearty but nutrient-dense. Plus, it’s a great plant-based source of protein, containing an impressive 7 grams per can. No water is needed; all you have to do is heat it.
Calories (per can): 230 | Sodium: 1,240 milligrams | Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams | Protein: 7 grams | Added Sugar: 0 grams
Best On-the-Go: Progresso Broccoli Cheese Soup with Oyster Crackers
Convenient and portable
Microwaveable in its own container
Crunchy topping included
Light on the broccoli
Though technically not canned, we appreciate portability and wanted to highlight Progresso’s “toppers” collection, which is a great choice for those without stovetop (or can opener) access. The container is microwavable (just remove the toppings section first), making it a solid choice for everything from college dorm living to office breakroom lunches.
If you’re hoping for a ton of broccoli, you will be disappointed, but if you’re here for the cheese, this soup is much heavier on the cheese than it is on the broccoli. The oyster crackers make a fun topping and add some extra texture, which is often lacking in canned soups.
Calories (per can): 240 | Sodium: 1,230 milligrams | Saturated Fat: 5 grams | Protein: 5 grams | Added Sugar: 0 grams
Best for Kids: Annie's Bunny Pasta and Chicken Broth Soup
Good for picky eaters
Fun pasta shapes
Minimal vegetable chunks (just carrots)
Getting kids to eat isn’t always the easiest task, but it certainly helps when you have fun-shaped pastas involved. These bunnies and carrots will make your kids want to eat their soup—actual carrot pieces included. This particular soup is also kid-friendly because of how simple the broth is; it’s seasoned minimally and doesn’t have any particularly strong herb notes.
This basic flavor profile would also bode well as a “recovery soup” if you are feeling under the weather. An added bonus? It’s organic, contains no GMOs, and is made with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Calories (per can): 130 | Sodium: 1,090 milligrams | Saturated Fat: 1 gram | Protein: 5 grams | Added Sugar: 0 grams
Best Low Sodium: Health Valley Organic Soup, No Salt Added, Chicken and Rice
American Heart Association certified
Plenty of bulk from rice
Canned soups are notoriously high in sodium, so for those following a low-sodium diet, it is extremely difficult to find a soup that fits within tighter salt restrictions. In fact, even many “reduced sodium” soups are still loaded with salt. This Health Valley soup, however, has no salt added, and it lives up to that with only 150 milligrams of salt per can. This makes it American Heart Association certified, so you can be confident it’s a good choice if you’re on a heart-healthy diet. As an added bonus, it’s also gluten-free and organic.
The rice gives it plenty of texture and makes it feel more substantive as a meal, but it could also be a healthy appetizer on a cold winter day, or pair well with a sandwich or salad. Because there is no added salt, it is safe to say it’s on the plain side when it comes to flavor, but the chicken and carrots help add some sweetness and savoriness to each bite. This plainer flavor profile also gives you the opportunity to dress it up yourself by adding your salt to taste, as well as other seasonings.
Calories (per can): 180 | Sodium: 150 milligrams | Saturated Fat: 0.5 grams | Protein: 8 grams | Added Sugar: 0 grams
“If you’re starting with a canned soup and you want to make it into a more substantial meal, add rice (fully cooked or not; if not, it’ll absorb a lot of the liquid and you’ll end up with a stew instead of a soup). You can also add potatoes, bread croutons, some vegetables—pretty much anything that will thicken it up because it’ll naturally absorb some of that water." — Eckstein
If you are looking for an overall winning canned soup that is nutrient-dense but doesn’t sacrifice flavor, Amy's Hearty Rustic Italian Vegetable is the way to go. It’s super satiating, chock-full of veggies, and nicely seasoned. If you’re in search of a more basic chicken-broth based soup that’s kid-friendly or a good option if you’re feeling under the weather, we recommend Annie's Bunny Pasta and Chicken Broth Soup, which, in addition to boasting fun pasta shapes, is organic, contains no GMOs, and is made with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
What to Look for in Canned Soup
Nutrition Facts Panel
While there are plenty of healthier canned soup options on store shelves these days, canned foods are notorious for being sodium bombs. Be a smart shopper and check the label before adding that soup to your cart. If your favorite soup is high in sodium, it doesn’t mean you can’t have it, but it’s important to be aware, watch your portions, and perhaps reduce other sources of sodium in your meal to compensate.
“Things you should avoid if you see on a label: anything that you cannot identify, anything that you couldn’t just go out and buy as an ingredient (those are typically preservatives, stabilizers, corn syrups, starches, or thickeners)...any long ingredient list that has things you can’t identify—let alone pronounce—I would avoid those,” Eckstein says.
This should be clear on the label, so read those instructions carefully. Products will recommend microwave, stovetop, or both; if the instructions mention reaching a minimum internal temperature, use your kitchen thermometer to make sure the soup is coming to a safely heated temperature. How difficult the soup is to make will likely play into your decision to make it.
Do you need a can opener? Take note of the can’s lid, and make sure you’re purchasing a can with a pop-open top if you don’t own a can opener.
How long is canned soup good for?
According to the USDA, canned goods can last for years. However, the can has to be in good condition; if there’s rust, dents, or swelling, toss it. “Dates on cans indicate peak quality as determined by the manufacturer. So don’t automatically pitch a can with an expired date,” the USDA advises. Its guidelines suggest that low-acid canned products (think: canned meat, fish, stew, soups, beans, corn, peas, potatoes, etc.) can be stored for two to five years. On the other hand, high-acid canned products (like fruit, pickles, tomatoes, tomato-based soup) can last for 12-18 months. If you can foods at home yourself, these have a shorter shelf life and the USDA recommends consuming these foods within one year.
Moral of the story: It depends what kind of soup it is, and if the can is in good shape, but if it’s past the expiration date and the can is in good condition, you may not need to throw it out after all.
How can you make canned soup better?
Canned soup is a great starting point for a meal—with a little creativity and some spare ingredients, you can turn a basic soup into much more. Have some extra kale or spinach on hand in your fridge? Toss those greens into the pot and let them wilt down in just moments. If you have extra frozen veggies in your freezer (think: extra frozen spinach from a lasagna, or extra shelled edamame from a rice bowl), throw them into the pot, and let the simmering soup warm them through for a few minutes. This will not only add substance to your soup, but it will add tons of nutrients (lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber).
“If you’re starting with a canned soup and you want to make it into a more substantial meal, add rice (fully cooked or not; if not, it’ll absorb a lot of the liquid and you’ll end up with a stew instead of a soup)," Eckstein says. "You can also add potatoes, bread croutons, some vegetables—pretty much anything that will thicken it up because it’ll naturally absorb some of that water."
If you have any extra rotisserie chicken, cut or shred it into small pieces and add it to a vegetarian soup for a protein boost. If you have any extra plain white rice from your Chinese takeout meal a few days back, give it a new life by adding it to your soup. And don’t forget about garnishes; a simple topping or side can really elevate a canned soup. Easy sides like garlic bread, toasted baguette, a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan, and crushed tortilla chips can turn a light dish into a filling meal. Even a squeeze of citrus or sprinkle of fresh herbs can add a bright element to liven up the canned soup.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, her diverse background and varied interests provide a unique perspective that fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews. She is a huge fan of canned soup and loves finding creative ways to dress up these budget-friendly pantry staples. She taste-tested all the winning soups on this list. She also interviewed Sam Eckstein, co-founder of Springbone Kitchen for additional research for this roundup.