I can't cook, but I sure can Nuke!

Campbell’s Select Harvest Healthy Request Mexican-Style Chicken Tortilla Soup

Campbell’s Select Harvest Healthy Request Mexican-Style Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Taste
  • Nutrition
  • Green Packaging
  • Honesty in Advertising
  • Value

A great product that is both healthy and tasty, but you’ll be hard-pressed to actually find any tortillas in this “tortilla” soup.

It’s unusual to see 3 separate registered trademarks in the title of a product, even more so when none of them are the name of the product itself. Campbell’s is the undisputed king of canned soup, Select Harvest is their brand of “natural ingredients” soups (does that make the other ones unnatural?), and Healthy Request indicates that they’re low in fat and cholesterol (“heart healthy”). Oh, and it also happens to be chicken “tortilla” soup. Almost forgot about it in all that marketing hype, especially since there are almost no tortillas.

But what really matters, the taste, is definitely not hype. If you’re a fan of tortilla soup (the brothy kind, not the creamy enchilada style), then you’ll love this, although read my notes below. It tastes great and has nice big chunks of chicken, along with other ingredients that are easy to identify.

The nutrition is also pretty decent, although I think the label doesn’t really tell the whole story when hyping up the various gums and maltodextrin. Personally I have no problem with gums – I get how they add to the texture – but to call them “real ingredients” strikes me as a bit disingenuous. The way I look at it is that I would never add them if I was making homemade soup (ya, like that’ll ever happen!), so I find it hard to justify why they’ve been added to a soup that markets to the healthy lifestyle. Aside from that, the ingredients are pretty wholesome, the calories and fat are reasonable, and only the sodium is a bit on the high side (17%DV/serving, 40%DV/can) – a common problem with canned soup.

But that brings me to my biggest gripe, and I’ve said it before – the “serving” size is only 1 cup, but what isn’t obvious is that this can contains 2.325 servings. Most of us are going to eat the whole can, or at least half the can, so the serving size should be larger. The whole can contains  279 calories and 40% of my daily sodium, so it suddenly doesn’t appear to be quite as light as it first appears. But in all honesty it’s still pretty reasonable, compared to other foods.

Some other notes: The chunks of chicken are large, but there aren’t as many as I expected. Tortillas are listed on the ingredients, but I had a hard time finding any, probably because they’re way down in the “less than 2% of” part of the ingredient list. Rice is abundant, and I feel rice shouldn’t be in a “tortilla” soup to begin with, but it’s understandable because they substitute for the tortillas. Check your ingredients – in the last couple of years there have been at least 3 versions of this soup with the same name, with slightly different ingredients, although it looks to me like they are actually trying to make it healthier/lower calorie.

Preparation tips: I like adding my ever-present cayenne pepper to this (before cooking), and I also like crunching up some low-salt tortilla chips and adding them (after cooking, so they stay crisp). Cheese is also a nice addition, but together with the chips it can pack quite a calorie wallop, so go easy.

Although this is a relatively long review, the end result is that this is a product I would happily buy again – it tastes great and is relatively healthy. I just wish the marketing folks would spend their time on products that actually need the hype, and leave great food like this alone.

Calories: 120/serving, 279/can (Caloric Density: 0.53 – good!)


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