REVIEW: Campbell’s Go Soup Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.)

*Naturally occurring

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.

NEWS: OMG Campbell’s Tries To Appeal To Youngins LOL With Their Go Soup Pouches TTYL

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Soup is soooo uncool.

Well, I don’t think so, but it appears that’s what Campbell’s thinks and it’s trying to change that with a new line of soups marketed to Millenials. The new soups are called Campbell’s Go and feature ingredients with fun names to say, like chorizo, quinoa, madras, gouda, poblano, and shiitake.

The soup doesn’t come in an old fogey can, because that would be uncool. Instead it comes in a microwaveable pouch. So if you’re feeling particularly lazy, which is what Millenials have sometimes been called, you can eat it straight out of the pouch. Or you could heat it up on the stove like your grandma. Or you could heat it up like your great great great grandma did and do it over a fire.

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Campbell’s Go Soup comes in six fancy pancy flavors:

Moroccan Style Chicken with Chickpeas – spicy chicken and whole chickpeas with vine-ripe tomatoes. An 8-ounce serving has 160 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 790 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of fiber, and 13 grams of protein.

Golden Lentil with Madras Curry – golden lentils, tomatoes, and savory spinach with spicy madras curry. A serving has 160 calories, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 770 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein.

Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda – Tomatoes and sweet, roasted red peppers with smokey gouda cheese. An 8-ounce serving has 220 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 780 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein.

Coconut Curry with Chicken & Shiitake Mushrooms – Chicken in a coconut curry broth with shiitake mushroom slices. A serving has 160 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 830 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of protein.

Chicken & Quinoa with Poblano Chilies – Chicken chunks and quinoa with poblano chilies. It has 160 calories 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 790 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of fiber, and 12 grams of protein.

Spicy Chorizo & Pulled Chicken with Black Beans – Chorizo slices, sweet corn, black beans, and pulled chicken. A serving has 210 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 710 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of protein.

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Campbell’s Chunky Fully Loaded Rigatoni & Meatballs Soup

Oh, football season — the most masculine, yet homoerotic of all seasons. Think of all the Sundays spent shouting while in the vicinity of drunk and rowdy men. Ponder the countless hours debating whether those feelings you have for Tom Brady are natural admiration or unfettered lust. There is really nothing else quite like it.

For years, the folks at Campbell’s have capitalized on the season’s excitement by using football players to promote their Chunky Soup. I have no problem with sports leagues promoting products, but I can’t quite make out the connection here. After all, this is a brand of soup based solely on the premise that large men enjoy a steaming hot bowl of soup after a grueling practice. Who needs a frosty Gatorade or a sandwich when you can have a boiling hot bowl of soup with processed meats and vegetables that melt in your mouth? While this may seem surreal and absurd, nothing is quite as insane as what they are pitching with the Fully Loaded soup variety.

Apparently Chunky Soup, the soup that eats like a meal, wasn’t meal-like enough to satisfy the hunger of football players after they were done frolicking in mud as rain poured down on them. Instead of wondering who the hell pitches these commercials, I’m going to try to decipher exactly why this thing product is considered soup. I suppose the Chunky Fully Loaded takes after athletes and is a soup on steroids and human growth hormones. However, they have taken their approach way too far and have created a proverbial monster. You see, this is clearly rigatoni and meatballs, and unless I have been mistaken for my entire life, pasta is not soup. In fact, unlike crock pot meals and shepherd’s pie, it’s not even close to being soup. You might as well sever your own testicles and call it chicken cordon bleu. It really makes absolutely no sense.

Speaking of testicles, Campbell’s has finally accomplished what they have always strived to do — give soup some serious balls. While that statement is indeed a terrible joke, it’s also what I think this “soup” is really made of. The meatballs have an abnormally chewy texture that I could only assume mirror the texture of a certain questionable organ meat. Maybe this is to appeal to the people with giant Oakland Raiders vinyl decals and metallic ballsacks hanging from the back of their trucks, but nobody knows for sure. I understand that they can’t use the finest cuts available, but this is bordering on unappetizing and disturbing.

Luckily, I am less than picky about canned pasta and can safely say that I would much rather eat this than Chef Boyardee. The rigatoni is not mushy like many canned pastas and actually has some texture to it. They are also large enough to make me feel like a really big man while I’m eating them, which is probably worth the price of purchase on its own. The meatballs, strange texture and all, are not completely awful and are edible enough. The tomato sauce, which I suppose would be the soup in this case, has actual chunks of tomato and has a good acidic bite that is a refreshing change from the saccharine taste of the tomato sauces in other canned pastas.

What I appreciate most is the fact that the soup has a pop-top lid. Most of the people that buy this type of food do not own a can opener, so I like that they are saving us from the humiliation of stabbing it with a knife and jamming a spoon in to get it open. Even still, I can’t forgive them for completely messing with my sense of reality. When certain things in my worldview become distorted, I can’t help but feel despondent. If I ever go to Olive Garden and get “Fettuccini Alfredo” as the soup of the day, you will know why I tried to hang myself with the noodles.

(Nutritional Facts – 1 cup – 220 calories, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 800mg sodium, 24 grams of carbs, 6 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 4% Vitamin A, 8% Calcium, and 10% Iron)

Item: Campbell’s Chunky Fully Loaded Rigatoni & Meatballs Soup
Price: $2.00
Purchased at: Ralph’s
Rating: 3 out of 5
Pros: A lot of food for a decent price. Rigatoni and sauce taste pretty good. Not mushy. Tom Brady.
Cons: Meatballs have strange texture. Eating soup after strenuous exercise. Raiders fans with truck nuts. Things that aren’t soup being called soup. Trying to hang yourself with noodles.