When winter arrives with a vengeance, it means soup season is officially in full swing. As record-low temperatures sweep the country, folks turn their attention to stocking up on comforting cold-weather staples like good old grocery store canned soup to fill their pantries.
While making your own homemade soup can certainly be a rewarding endeavor, there's something extra comforting about knowing that a reliable can of goodness is waiting for you to heat up at the drop of a snowflake. From classic chicken noodle to chunky chili, you're spoiled for choice with the dozens of varieties of canned soup lining store shelves. While some popular options are better than others, the sheer number of shelf-stable soups available on the market could keep you satisfied through a long, cold winter and then some. But what happens when your favorite store-bought soup seems to vanish without a trace?
Sometimes, once-popular flavors simply fail to perform, or changes in health trends inspire folks to search for options that better fit their current diet, leaving old favorites to disappear from store shelves due to poor sales. And every once in a while, things just seem to go awry during production. From recalls and discontinued items to poorly reviewed recipes and flavor combos that have just fallen out of fashion, here are 12 grocery store canned soups we may never eat again.
Read more: 16 Worst Canned Foods You Can Buy
Whole Foods Birria-Inspired Beef Soup With Hominy
Beloved for its extensive hot bar offerings and myriad allergen-friendly options, Whole Foods is somewhat of a darling when it comes to no-cook weeknight meals. Among the grocery store chain's popular prepared foods are a range of house-made soups, pre-packaged and sold in the refrigerated section to heat up for a quick lunch between Zoom meetings.
Generally speaking, the Whole Foods Market Kitchen-branded plastic containers are well labeled, clearly identifying allergens and denoting gluten-free or vegan options for easy identification. However, with so many soups to churn out, sometimes mistakes slip through the cracks. Take a December 2023 misbranding incident, when undeclared sesame was found in the final product the grocery giant's birria-inspired beef soup with hominy. According to the health alert issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), some containers bearing the birria soup label were mistakenly filled with a plant-based chicken soup containing sesame. Thankfully, no reactions were reported, but those with a sesame allergy might have begun to think twice about reaching for this flavorful beef soup.
While this Mexican-inspired option was temporarily off-limits to some, Whole Foods offers plenty of other correctly labeled, allergen-safe varieties. Served in generous 24-ounce to-go containers, soups with an international twist like Italian-style wedding soup and red lentil dal with spinach provide a flavorful taste of homestyle cooking in a pinch.
Hanover Soup Classics Chicken Pot Pie
You don't reach 100 years of food production without a few mishaps along the way. Pennsylvania-based Hanover Foods has been canning its farm-grown produce since 1924, and today offers a wide variety of frozen veggies, snacks, and canned goods, including homestyle soups. Among the comforting selections is a canned chicken pot pie soup — think ultra-creamy chicken soup with thick pastry-like noodles.
This rich and silky soup sounds like a bowl of comfort, but a more recent recall just might give you second thoughts about reaching for another can. In October 2023, Aunt Kitty's Foods Inc. (the producer of Hanover's canned soups) was forced to recall more than 15,000 pounds of the chicken pot pie soup after it was discovered that a recently shipped batch had used chicken containing undisclosed soy in the mixture. While rogue soy may not be an issue for some, those with a severe allergy may want to avoid this particular canned soup for the time being.
This isn't the first time Aunt Kitty's Foods has landed in hot water over a chicken processing mishap. In 2018, the company recalled more than 10,000 pounds of canned chicken gravy, citing a production error that led to underprocessed products. In layman's terms, the chicken gravy was potentially unsafe to eat. When it comes to Hanover's canned products, it might be best to skip the poultry products and stick to the meat-free options.
Campbell's Pepper Pot Soup
Once a staple of the Philadelphia street-food scene, pepper pot soup is a hearty, spicy stew made of beef, vegetables, whole peppercorns, and other seasonings. While there are plenty of myths surrounding the soup's origins — including a mostly debunked tale about the soup feeding George Washington's army at Valley Forge — pepper pot soup is typically attributed to West African culinary tradition, transported to the Caribbean and eventually to the American colonies via the transatlantic slave trade. Pepper pot soup earned its cult-like following in Philadelphia thanks to enterprising so-called "pepper pot women," who sold steaming hot bowls of the cheap stew from porches and street corners around the city during the 18th and 19th centuries.
While there are variations of a pepper pot soup found around Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, the distinctly Philadelphian version hinges on the use of beef tripe, or stomach lining for the uninitiated. The organ meat was slowly simmered for hours with a huge array of spices until the broth was aromatic and the protein was silky.
The labor-intensive stew slowly fell out of fashion as a street food, but Campbell's kept the tradition alive for more than 100 years, canning Campbell's pepper pot soup as early as 1889. Sadly, the spicy stew got the axe back in 2010, likely because the soup-loving public has lost its appetite for tripe. Offal aside, the canned soup's discontinuation hasn't stopped legions of fans from creating copycat recipes to this day.
Trader Joe's Unexpected Broccoli Cheddar Soup
The soup game is strong at Trader Joe's, where a wide variety of heat-and-eat options can be found among the refrigerated prepared foods all year round. Arguably among the brand's best soups, Trader Joe's unexpected broccoli cheddar soup combines sharp cheddar and Parmesan cheeses with plenty of broccoli florets for a tasty twist on the lunchtime staple.
However, fans were greeted with unwelcome news in July 2023, when Trader Joe's voluntarily recalled its beloved broccoli cheddar soup for an unappetizing (and unexpected) reason: Packages of the fan-favorite soup could have potentially contained insects, per NBC News. More specifically, the soup's producer alerted Trader Joe's that there may be insects in the frozen broccoli florets used to make nearly 11,000 cases of the soup. While FDA standards do allow for trace amounts of insect particles in frozen fruits and vegetables (bugs are a natural part of the growing process, after all), once a certain threshold of contamination occurs, the produce legally can't be sold.
Trader Joe's did the right thing by removing the potentially contaminated containers from store shelves before any illness was reported, though it's unlikely we'll be reaching for a pint of unexpected broccoli cheddar soup anytime soon — at least until we're sure the brand has all the bugs worked out of its system.
Heinz Beef Soup
Even though it was discontinued more than 15 years ago, Heinz's beef soup inspires a loyal following — the "Bring Back Heinz Beef Soup!" Facebook page boasts more than 700 members. Despite a still-active social media campaign to bring the soup back to grocery store shelves, the simple beef soup remains elusive, and its disappearance has inspired a number of conspiracy theories, namely that the brand is favoring a plant-based audience. While Heinz has certainly stepped up its veg-friendly offerings with the introduction of Plant Proteinz soups in 2021, the company continues to offer meaty canned options like beef broth, beef and veg, and steak and potato to satisfy carnivorous soup lovers the world over.
Fans may still be in mourning over the loss of the classic beef soup, but there's plenty to look forward to from Heinz. Toward the end of 2023, the brand released its first new soup flavors in almost 10 years. Soup lovers can get excited about stocking their pantries in the wintertime with canned soup varieties like spicy parsnip, broccoli and stilton, and classic French onion.
Progresso Creamy Potato Soup
The COVID-19 pandemic hit many industries hard, and food production was no exception. Soup sales actually skyrocketed during the pandemic's early days, and brands like Progresso were struggling to keep up with demand. As a result, parent company General Mills announced in July 2020 that it would be slashing 40 Progresso soup flavors from store shelves in an effort to streamline production and help keep grocery aisles well stocked, as reported by Bloomberg. While classics like chicken noodle and chicken and sausage gumbo were spared the axe, fan-favorite creamy potato soup wasn't so lucky.
During the ensuing years, dozens of popular flavors returned to store shelves. Progresso even introduced new varieties, including Italian sausage and potato and spicy New England clam chowder. Sadly, Progresso's creamy potato soup doesn't seem to be among the resurrected flavors. Those still craving a rich and creamy bowl of comfort can seek out the brand's loaded potato with bacon soup, though it's not a perfect substitute for the original.
Campbell's Chunky Philly-Style Cheesesteak Soup
Unlike the brand's super-traditional and ever-popular soup offerings like cream of mushroom and split pea, Campbell's Chunky soups were developed to satisfy substantially heartier appetites. Originally introduced in the 1970s, the thick, stew-like canned soups experienced a resurgence in the late 90s and early aughts thanks to an NFL-themed ad campaign that touted the soups as meaty enough to fuel a professional athlete's appetite.
While the Chunky soups line continues to perform well, not every flavor has scored big with fans. Campbell's officially discontinued its Philly-style cheesecake soup in 2021 to very little pushback. Reviews of the canned soup were mixed at best, with plenty of folks pointing out that it tasted nothing like an authentic Philly cheesesteak. In hindsight, the world probably didn't need a souped-up version of an already-beloved sandwich, but Campbell's took the loss in stride. In response to customer feedback, the brand introduced spicy chicken noodle soup that same year — a tangy and chili-forward flavor that remains on grocery store shelves to this day.
Gardein Plant-Based Minestronen & Saus'ge Soup
Proof positive that plant-based doesn't necessarily mean good for you, Gardein's plant-based minestrone & saus'ge soup is more mystery "meat" than a heart-healthy choice. Packed with processed ingredients, this vegan canned soup is flush with sodium — 1,030 milligrams, or about 45% of your recommended daily intake, to be exact — landing it squarely on the list of canned soups you just shouldn't buy.
In the push to appeal to a meat-free audience, plant-based companies like Gardein can be quick to present processed meat alternatives that come with their own set of health issues. Not all plant-based protein choices are created equal. According to John Hopkins Medicine, many nutritionists and health providers recommend getting the majority of your protein (among other nutrients) from whole foods like beans, lentils, peas, and nuts. Some meat alternatives are made from these whole foods, and others ... not so much. It all comes down to what's listed on the label. With an ingredient list including items like "saus'ge" and vegan "noodl's," Gardein's plant-based canned soup just leaves us with too many questions about what we're actually putting into our bodies.
Dinty Moore Meatball Stew
Why mess with a good thing? The over 80-year-old canned soup company Dinty Moore has staying power with its traditional flavors like beef stew and chicken and dumpling, but its meatball stew was discontinued for a reason — it just couldn't live up to its more popular siblings.
Once a soup aisle staple, the meatball stew maintains a nostalgic online following. However, it seems that a decline in quality could be the reason for the stew's disappearance from store shelves around 2016. Mixed reviews on the product's Amazon page mention that the meatballs were significantly smaller and flatter than shoppers remembered, with a hot dog-like consistency — not exactly high praise.
If you're among those who crave the vintage meatball variety, the brand continues to make its ever-popular beef stew. With a recipe that hasn't changed much since its debut in the 1930s, Dinty Moore seems to have the recipe for success on lock. And there's really no reason to change it — or add meatballs.
Health Valley Organic Cream Of Mushroom Soup
It's fairly common knowledge that canned soup isn't always the healthiest choice on the grocery store shelf. As with any packaged food, you generally want to look for a clean label with recognizable ingredients. When the ingredient list starts to drone on with overly scientific terms that sound like they'd be more at home on a periodic table than your plate, it can be concerning.
Health Valley's organic cream of mushroom soup is one such example. Even with the USDA Organic and Certified Gluten Free logos donning the can, the ingredient list just doesn't sit right. Most alarming is the appearance of maltodextrin, a chemical thickener made from corn, potato, rice, wheat, or tapioca. According to WebMD, while perfectly safe to consume for the general population, it should be avoided by diabetics for its high glycemic index and those with celiac disease for potentially trace amounts of gluten — extra frightening considering that prominent gluten-free label.
Ingredient makeup aside, Health Valley's cream of mushroom falls flat on the flavor front, too. Reviews tend to call out a general lack of seasoning, with one Amazon commenter referring to the product as "lumpy dishwater." Poor reviews and a questionable label rank this canned cream of mushroom soup among the options we'll likely skip over in the future.
Cole's New England Clam Chowder
As a rule of thumb, cream-based soups just shouldn't be consumed in can form. Add fish into the mix, and you're just asking for disaster. While there are plenty of passable options for canned clam chowder on the market, Cole's New England clam chowder just isn't one of them. With wild-caught clams and BPA-free cans, this environmentally friendly company is on the right track when it comes to sourcing, but it hasn't quite figured out how to can that classic New England flavor just yet.
Some recent Amazon reviews pan the canned clam chowder, calling the clams "wicked tough and chewy" and describing the flavor as "not right." The semi-condensed product calls for adding milk or cream to give the soup its classic consistency, but commenters are even divided on the amount of dairy the recipe calls for. And at more than $4 per can, Cole's version just can't measure up to other (better) canned clam chowders on the market.
Trader Joe's Beef Chili With Beans
While Trader Joe's much-beloved vegetarian chili has returned to store shelves after a panic-filled hiatus, the brand's canned beef chili with beans has mysteriously vanished from its website. While Trader Joe's is known to run into supplier issues here and there that can cause fan favorites to quietly disappear for a short period of time, we fear this one might be gone for good.
Packed with beans and beautifully seasoned beef, Trader Joe's beef chili garnered a bit of a cult-like following, as Trader Joe's products are wont to do. Die-hard fans can still find the fat-free version of their beloved beef chili on Amazon, but if the rumors are to be believed, this product was discontinued at the end of 2023, and the third-party supply will eventually run out.
Luckily, the Trader Joe's loyal aren't just limited to the chain's canned soups. Ready-to-eat options like seasonal harvest chili, white bean chicken chili soup, and even hearty minestrone soup are there to fill the void — at least until the chain's next big soup sensation hits store shelves.
Knorr's Sopa Soup Mix
While not a canned soup brand, Knorr's has been producing handy soup starters like dehydrated seasonings and bouillon cubes for over 150 years. It took a lot of trial and error to develop its dried soup production method, and while the brand certainly has the process down to a science, that doesn't mean it's immune from human error.
In August 2023, a recall was issued for Knorr's sopa soup mix citing undeclared egg present in some of its tomato-based products, per the FDA. No allergic reactions were reported in relation to the recall, but the news could be jarring to brand fans who stick to a strictly vegan diet.
Sadly, this isn't the first time Knorr's has faced issues with potential cross-contamination. In 2022, the brand recalled more than 16,000 pounds of its soup du jour red Thai style curry chicken with rice soup mix. The supposedly dairy-free soup mix tested positive for milk in a routine allergen test, raising red flags among the top brass. While no major incidents were reported in relation to the recall, the second major miss by Knorr's might be enough to keep some from scoping out its soup mixes in the future.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.