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Few things are more comforting than tomato soup and a
grilled cheese sandwich. With the bright tomato and the gooey cheese, the silky
soup and the crispy sandwich, the pairing is a classic study in complementary
contrasts that hits all the right notes.
But when the craving strikes, I’m usually not in the mood to spend an hour making a batch of soup. I’d rather just heat and eat, and that’s where canned (or boxed) tomato soup comes in.
I took a look at the options in the soup aisle at several grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Albertson’s, and a Kroger store, and found nearly two dozen choices, ranging from chunky to smooth, and from cream-spiked to low-sodium. Some even had bone broth as the base. The selection was pretty overwhelming. Which ones would offer deep, balanced, and bright tomato flavor? I’d have to try them all.
I zeroed in on the most classic options (smooth, regular salt, no herbs when possible, and no meat broth) and ended up with 12 different soups. I gathered a group of self-avowed tomato soup lovers and got help setting up a blind taste test.
Some soups went heavy on the dried herbs, which gave them more of a stewed flavor. One was much too celery-forward. Another was quite brothy and didn’t deliver the richness we wanted, while two others were so rich the tomato flavor got lost. A few were way too sweet while another tasted like slightly thinned out tomato paste. So which soup rose above the rest? Two actually.
The Best Smooth Tomato Soup: Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Tomato Soup
If you’re looking for a creamy, smooth, and comforting tomato soup, this one’s for you. It has just enough rich dairy to taste a little decadent without being heavy, and the bright tomato flavor comes through nicely without any musty dried herbs getting in the way.
Find: Creamy Tomato Soup, $2.69 for 32 ounces at Trader Joe’s
The Best Slightly Chunky Tomato Soup: Wolfgang Puck Organic Tomato Basil Bisque
This tasted like the kind of tomato soup I’d make from scratch. The flavor was bright and balanced, the texture was creamy without being overtly dairy-spiked, and there were just enough tiny diced tomato bits to make the texture more interesting than a purée. If you welcome a little texture in your tomato soup, this one will make you happy.
Buy: Wolfgang Puck Organic Tomato Basil Bisque, $2.50 for 14.5 ounces at Thrive Market
How to Make Tomato Soup from Scratch
Do you have a go-to canned (or boxed) tomato soup brand? Tell us about it in the comments below!