Box sops

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Except for stocks and broths, my interest in soups packaged in a can peaked sometime before I did. Nowadays, it's simply too much of a reach for me to attempt to recapture the magic of a lazy afternoon spent with silly shows on TV and a plated grilled cheese sandwich nestled next to a bowl of Campbell's tomato soup.

Since those long-gone days, I've been consistently disappointed with way too many tin-trapped, semi-liquid salt bombs exhibiting lifeless flavors and textures yet little else. Still, I'm always open to taste-test ideas.

So when I did a supermarket drive-by the other night and spied a new variety of Campbell's soup, what else could I say but I'll give it a try?

What I tried: Campbell's V8 Garden Broccoli, Golden Butternut Squash and Tomato Herb soups ($3 each)

All souped up: Campbell's V8 brand is famous for front-loading a hefty vitamin thrust into the engine of a tomatoey juice that runs on a full eight cylinders of vegetable flavor. I sometimes drink the stuff with citrus, horseradish, hot sauce and vodka - but that's another story.

Anyway, when I saw V8 had proudly put its name on a line of "100-percent vegetarian" soups sold in modern aseptic cartons, it caught my interest. Each box claims to be "a breakthrough innovation" that enables Campbell's/V8 to use "a more delicate cooking process that gives you the kind of big, fresh flavors you really want from soup."

Well, the proof was in the reheating.

Choppin' broccoli: With slight reservations, I liked this one. It had a pea-green color but a pronounced broccoli flavor. There was also an underlying character of cheese and something roasty about it. Texture-wise, the stuff was thick, but not what I'd really call gloppy. Verdict: not bad.

Squash it: This was the color of goldenrod, only speckled with (flavorless) dried herbs. It was mildly sweet and quite starchy and at least as potatoey as squashy. Like the broccoli soup, it had that thick, pureed veggie texture with the occasional small lump. Verdict: OK, but not my cup of soup.

You say tomato, I say forget it: No, not for me. This one was super-salty but not very tomatoey. In fact, it was far less tomatoey than regular old Campbell's tomato soup in a can, which is actually a lot better. My major turnoff with this was its strong and unpleasant aftertaste - sort of like a chemically fraught minty basil. Verdict: yuck.

Would I eat them again?: Only the broccoli.

We tried it! Spot a new supermarket specialty you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail