A few weeks ago, a really dumb thing happened. After sitting peachy keen all August and most of September eating salads of crisp peaches, juicy tomatoes, and milky mozzarella with fragrant basil and balsamic vinegar, I suddenly awoke to my tomato garden dead and peaches that were expensive as hell at the grocery store.
To top it all off, it got cold. And rainy. And freaking cold. That’s when I knew my summer salad days were over. With a busted workplace heater and a house that shuns sunlight like a vampire, I found myself mostly just wanting soup.
God, I sound like suck a freaking old person. I mean, people may age aren’t supposed to like soup. At least, that’s according to the people who get paid to write about this kind of market research crap. Long story short, soup is cumbersome, boring, and definitely not cool or on-the-go. Being that I strive for coolness with other members of the millennial generation who do things like stand up at their office workstation and eat from food trucks with pretentious sounding vegan food items from foreign lands, I can totally see Campbell’s marketing angle when it comes to their new line of Go Soups.
I mean, it seems brilliant. Let’s replace a can of soup with a pouch, put a young and attractive person on the cover, and use buzzwords like “smoked” to attract on-the-go consumers. Really, what could be cooler and more user friendly than that?
(On second thought, a built-in saltine cracker dispenser, inflatable bowl, and one of those heating pouches the Army includes in MREs would go a long way, but I guess that didn’t mesh with the pouch design schematics or marketing production budget.)
The new Go Soups come in six flavors, but I picked up the Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda because the joke of being “way too gouda” on the pouch was clearly meant to be the kind of cheesy pun that is so lame in it’s use of a dairy pun that it actually becomes funny. I also picked it up because I thought the girl on the picture was attractive, at least much more attractive than Donovan McNabb’s mom in those old Chunky Soup commercials.
The instructions are simple enough. Microwave two to two and a half minutes, pick up by the “cool zone” tabs, let stand for a minute more, then eat and enjoy. Because I missed the day where reading directions was taught in grade school, I totally managed to screw this up the first time around, neglecting to microwave the soup in the pouch and instead pouring it into a cup before heating. What resulted when I heated the cup was a mini volcano in my microwave, feeding nothing but the lifeless insides of said microwave. Undaunted, I bought another pouch of the soup to have at work the next day, remembering all to well to microwave the soup in the pouch this time, so as not to be the proverbial “that guy” in the office.
Thankfully, it didn’t explode this time, although my better luck did come with a bit of a drawback. The pouch actually contains two servings, but heating the entire pouch seems like a waste if you’re just going to throw half of it in the fridge afterwards. So even though the entire pouch had more saturated fat then most fast food hamburgers (18 grams) I said “what the hey.” It was kind of chilly, and I wasn’t going to risk getting my leftovers jacked from a fridge which gives new meaning to an office fridge “communal.” I also wasn’t about to be “that guy” who leaves old food in the fridge in favor of the next impulsive buy.
My place in the spectrum of office fridge politics aside, I was pleasantly surprised with the soup. It smells, and tastes, amazing; like something I would get out of a hole-in-the-wall specialty soup restaurant with a fascistic chef who also happens to have a fantastic mustache. The taste is smoky and rich and somehow meaty – bolstered by sweet elements of a roasted squash and pepper flavors as well as the false heat of cumin and spices. There’s a buttery quality to it as well, with herbs and roasted pepper strands showing up in the otherwise smooth base. It’s creamy to an extent – in mouthfeel and in its rich depth of flavor – although it lacks the true body of a freshly prepared, heavy cream-based soup. I’m ok with that, though, because I’m on-the-go and trying to warm up. Sucking down 1,000 calories in heavy cream would probably only send me into a food coma and a nose dive into my computer.
The flavor of the soup is light years ahead of the Chunky Campbell’s soups I ate as a teenager, but when it comes to being “on the go,” I’m scratching my head as to an advantage. Yea, sure, you can heat it in the pouch, but you still need some kind of bowl to pour it in. Is that really saving me time and energy from a traditional can soup, most of which you don’t even need can openers to open in today’s world of pop-the-tab openings? Not really.
If I’m really going to eat the Go Soups on a regular basis, it’ll be because of the flavor and freshness of the ingredients, not any sleek design or time-saving appeal. But I still wouldn’t eat the Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda flavor every day, namely for two reasons. One, it costs more than an In-N-Out Cheeseburger. And two, because it has more saturated fat and calories than an In-N-Out Cheeseburger.
I guess it goes without saying that I really like an In-N-Out Cheeseburger, but every now and then, when I’m looking to warm up and feeling the need to remind myself that I actually enjoy soup, Campbell’s Go Soups will be my go-to option.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 220 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat*, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 780 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein, 20% vitamin A, 25% vitamin C, and 15% calcium.)
Item: Campbell’s Go Soup Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 14 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Amazingly complex taste for a grocery store soup. Rich, buttery taste has smoky, sweet, and meaty elements. Warming up on a cold day. Cheaper than restaurant soups. No can opener needed. Fitting in with the millennials.
Cons: Doesn’t come with a bowl. Doesn’t really save time. Saturated fat bomb. Lacks substantial body of restaurant cream based soups. More expensive and worse for you than an In-N-Out cheeseburger.