We’re in the midst of soup season, everyone, and I am loving it. I’ve stirred and simmered up a handful of these creative chicken soup ideas already this season. I’m sure by the time spring comes around, I’ll have made my way through this list! Since I’m making more soups and stews than ever, that means I’m also stocking up on a lot of chicken broth.
Of course, I could make my own because from-scratch is always better, but when I want soup fast—like in 30 minutes or less like these recipes—popping open a carton is a great shortcut. However, I don’t want to grab just any carton. The broth is the base of the whole soup, so picking a good one is important. And what better way to choose the best than lining them up side by side and giving them a try. For this test, the Taste of Home team and I tested ten major brands. Find out what we thought of these:
- College Inn
- Full Circle
- Great Value
- Market Pantry
- Simply Balanced
Runner-Up: Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
Taste of Home
This broth garnered what I consider to be one of the best compliments in any taste test: “This tastes homemade.” And that’s really the truth! Imagine’s organic chicken broth tasted rich and buttery. We also liked this broth because it was filled with subtle aromatic flavor like onion and celery without being overly salty like some broths. As an added bonus, this broth is organic, GMO-free, gluten-free, soy-free and made with free-range chicken.
$3.77 for a 32-ounce carton; available at Walmart and other grocery stores.
Best in Show: Swanson Chicken Broth
Taste of Home
In the end, one of the biggest names in broth proved to be our winner. Like Imagine’s broth, Swanson chicken broth was really satisfying on its own. It was packed with chicken flavor, of course, but it was so much more! As we sipped Swanson broth we started picking up on the taste of sage, onion, celery and carrots. A few folks thought that this tasted a bit like Thanksgiving dinner—yum! Out of all ten broths, this was definitely the most flavorful and delicious. It seemed destined for our ultimate chicken noodle soup recipe.
There’s one drawback to this broth brand, however. If you find yourself making a recipe where perhaps those Thanksgiving flavors wouldn’t be welcome, like with a coconut curry soup, you might want to opt for a more neutral flavor. But for most applications, like these slow cooker soups, Swanson broth would serve you very well.
$1.99 for a 32-ounce carton; available nationwide.
Taste of Home
Your broth matters! This test proved to us that all broths are not created equal. In fact, it proved to us that most store-bought chicken broths leave a lot to be desired—we only really enjoyed our top two brands (but we really enjoyed them!). This was definitely a hard pill to swallow for many of us who relied on some of those lower ranking brands.
However, this test proved that there are two really excellent options out there to complete your recipes. Both Imagine and Pacific provided us with full-flavored broths that were well seasoned and satisfying. Starting with a flavorful broth like these means your favorite recipes, like these classic soups, will turn out tastier than ever. Plus, when you start with a powerfully tasty broth, you don’t need to work so hard to season your soup—the broth will give you a great head start.