There's a new line-up of Chunky soups from Campbell's, and if you can believe the marketing pitch, the pub food-inspired flavors (Hearty Cheeseburger, Philly-Style Cheesesteak, and Spicy Chicken Quesadilla) are "sure-to-be-classics".
The main element of the Hearty Cheeseburger soup is cubes of potato, but I also came across a decent amount of beef, shaped to resemble miniature hamburger patties, roughly the size of a quarter. They have a grey tinge, look like circular slices of hot dog or sausage, and taste almost identical to the meatballs you'll find in a can of Chef Boyardee pasta. According to the list of ingredients, they contain a mix of sirloin beef, reconstituted onions, potato extract, salt, monosodium glutamate, and flavoring. (Yum?)
What was most striking about the soup was its neon orange hue. I was hoping that it would have a strong flavor to match, but it tasted more like a salty mixture of tomatoes and watered-down, heavily artificial cheese flavoring.
On the label, the meal suggestion is to pour the soup over a baked potato, but I wouldn't advise that. Potatoes are already the second ingredient (after water) and what this soup needs isn't another starchy component, but spice. Puréed chipotle peppers, a generous squirt of sriracha, or another form of hot sauce would go a long way. So, unless you're willing to doctor it up quite a bit, I'd pass on this new soup flavor.
Campbell's is promoting the cheeseburger soup, along with the rest of the line-up, as a simple, tasty dish to enjoy while watching football, but if you're willing to invest some time into preparing a snack, you'd be much better off with this Gooey Cheeseburger Dip from The Food Lab.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax