Costco's 12 Unhealthiest Soups

assorted soups in bowls
assorted soups in bowls - Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Is there anything better on a cold evening than a piping-hot bowl of soup to warm your belly? When we can't be bothered to prepare homemade hearty soups from scratch, we turn to premade options from trusted stores like Costco for a budget-friendly and reliable fix. What might seem like an otherwise safe meal can quickly turn problematic for your health since canned soups are high in sodium, processed ingredients like artificial flavorings, and additives such as sugars.

The U.S. Dietary Reference Intakes have established a Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) Intake level of sodium of 2,300 milligrams a day for adults. Since the average serving of packaged soup contains anywhere between 800-1,000 milligrams of sodium, this quick meal can easily take up one-third of your recommended sodium intake. It's also important to avoid frequently eating soups laden with heavy cream and thickening agents like roux, as they contain saturated fat, which can be risky for your heart health when consumed in large quantities.

To that end, we examined the nutritional labels of popular soup brands commonly available on Costco store shelves for their sodium, saturated fat levels, and harmful processed ingredients like artificial flavorings, sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, and hydrolyzed proteins. Below you'll find a list of the unhealthiest soups at Costco that you're better off avoiding on your next visit -- or at least buying less frequently.

Read more: 20 Frozen Foods Costco Shoppers Swear By

1. Pho'nomenal Vietnamese Noodle Soup

instant soup pho bowls
instant soup pho bowls - Pho'nomenal Foods / Facebook

Pho is undoubtedly one of the greatest culinary delights, with its rich meaty broth, thin noodles with a bite, and fresh vegetable seasonings packed with essential nutrients -- if prepared from scratch. Since most people don't have time to simmer the broth for a full day or even make delicious pho in an instant pot, the packaged versions will have to do.

You'll find brands like Pho'nomenal Foods selling Vietnamese-style pho at Costco for $11.99 per pack of six as of publication. However, a quick look at the nutrition label reveals why this isn't the best option for a healthy meal. One (60 gram) cup of pho packs 200 calories, 580 milligrams of sodium (one-third of your recommended daily intake), a whopping 48 grams of carbs, 24 grams of sugars (owing to processed sweeteners like maltodextrin), and 2 grams of fat.

For a single-serving portion, this bowl of vegetable pho isn't too bad if consumed occasionally, as it's on the more acceptable end of our list. However, steer clear of other pho varieties by this brand, like beef pho, which is much higher in sodium.

2. Kirkland Signature Chicken Tortilla Soup

Kirkland chicken tortilla soup
Kirkland chicken tortilla soup - Kirkland

Costco's Kirkland brand is a favorite among store regulars who love the Signature line offering premium high-quality products. The chicken tortilla soup is a popular choice among consumers for its delicious combination of chicken chunks, carrots, peppers, corn, and other diced veggies in a creamy tomato base and rich chicken broth. The soup retails at Costco for $10.93 for two tubs of 2 pounds each (eight servings per tub) and is a great bang for your buck.

However, tasty packaged food often comes at a price and this soup is no different. For every cup of soup, you get 120 calories packed with 780 milligrams of sodium (more than a third of your recommended daily intake), 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 13 grams of carbs, 5 grams of sugars (including processed sweeteners like maltodextrin), and 1 gram of saturated fat. There are also 11 grams of protein and 52 milligrams of calcium in each serving which are positives. Nevertheless, despite the low calorie count, this soup has little nutritional value, making it a passable choice if you need a quick-fix meal.

3. Campbell's Cream Of Mushroom Soup

Campbell's soup pack
Campbell's soup pack - Campbell's

Campbell's soup is the staple of weeknight dinners in many American households and a beloved classic for its reliable flavors and filling portions. The cream of mushroom soup is no different, packing mild flavors of garlic in a cream-laden soup base with the occasional mushroom piece. The soup is sold in a pack of a dozen 10-ounce containers at Costco for $15.99 (depending on location), with two-and-a-half servings per container. The low price point places it on the affordable end of our list, but it's definitely not nutritious.

For every ½-cup serving there are 100 calories, 7 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat), and a whopping 870 milligrams of sodium. There are also 8 grams of carbs including 2 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, and some minerals like potassium, calcium, and iron in small quantities. However, most people will consume more than the recommended half-cup serving size and go for at least a cup of soup. Doubling these values makes for an unhealthy bowl packed with sodium and fat from hydrogenated vegetable oils like canola.

4. Blount Clam Shack Gumbo

Blount's clam shack gumbo
Blount's clam shack gumbo - Blount Clam Shack

Blount Fine Foods specializes in making wholesale seafood soups like clam chowder and bisques under its Clam Shack line. The gumbo features uncured sausages, white meat chicken, shrimp, rice, and vegetables in a flavorful soup base. Consumers generally like the gumbo for its thick base, indulgent flavor, and meaty filling. The soups come in 24- and 30-ounce containers, retailing at around $11.49 for the larger portion with 3.5 servings.

On the nutritional front, this soup isn't the healthiest despite its protein content. For every 1 cup serving, there are 160 calories, 6 grams of fat (of which 2.5 grams are saturated), 40 milligrams of cholesterol, and 880 milligrams of sodium. The soup also has 17 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein. Although seafood soups are generally a healthier alternative to cream-based soups, the addition of preservatives and processed ingredients to retain freshness and flavor can make them unhealthy. This soup contains nisin preparation and xanthan gum, which are safe in small amounts but frequent or excessive consumption has been linked to digestive and gut-related issues.

5. Ivar's Cheddar Garden Medley Soup

Ivar's cheddar garden medley soup
Ivar's cheddar garden medley soup - Ivar's Soup Company

Ivar's Soups has been around since 1938 and is well known for classics like chicken noodle, loaded baked potato, and seafood chowders. You can find Ivar's soups at most Costcos and a few Business Centers locations or order them online from Instacart. The cheddar garden medley soup is a mix of roasted vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots in a cheddar cheese soup base. Customers can buy a 4-pound bag of the soup, which retails for around $19.99, placing the cost at the steeper end of this list.

Nutritionally, each 8-ounce serving of cheddar garden medley soup has 210 calories, 15 grams of fat (with a whopping 8 grams of saturated fat), 45 milligrams of cholesterol, and a high of 900 milligrams of sodium. There are also 14 grams of carbs of which 5 grams are sugar, as well as 5 grams protein. The ingredients list a cheddar cheese powder for flavor, which contributes to the high-fat content, sweet cream, hydrogenated oils like canola and palm, and other additives. If you're looking for a thick and indulgent soup like this one, it's easy to make a healthier version at home. Try a creamy chicken pot pie soup, or skip the chicken and add cheese and veggies to make it vegetarian.

6. Ivar's Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Ivar's loaded baked potato soup
Ivar's loaded baked potato soup - Ivar's Soup Company

When you're craving a hearty bowl of soup, nothing hits quite like a carb-loaded potato soup with melty cheese and heavy cream. Ivar's makes a loaded baked potato soup that comes pretty close to your favorite deli version. Consumers love the soup's decadent flavor and note that it pairs well with sourdough bread for a filling meal. Ivar's loaded baked potato soup retails at $16.99 for two 32-ounce packs containing nearly eight servings each.

However, this soup is concerning on the nutritional front. Every 245g serving has 300 calories, a high of 950 milligrams of sodium (close to half of your daily recommended intake), a whopping 19 grams of fat (of which 11 grams are saturated), and 65 milligrams of cholesterol. There are also 24 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein. This soup packs a concerning amount of fat compared to others on this list, primarily due to ingredients like whole milk, heavy cream, sour cream, butter, cheese flavorings, and corn oil. Additionally, the high sodium is due to its inclusion in nearly every ingredient as table salt and sea salt. Skip this soup due to its sodium and fat spike and make a quick potato soup recipe if you're really craving the comforting flavor.

7. Kirkland Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup

Kirkland rotisserie chicken noodle soup
Kirkland rotisserie chicken noodle soup - Kirkland

Costco's Kirkland Signature product line's rotisserie chicken noodle soup is an all-time favorite. It's Kirkland's take on a classic chicken noodle soup, made with surplus pieces of Costco's much-loved $5 rotisserie chicken, plus chunks of carrots, celery, and noodles in a thick broth. The internet started obsessing over Costco's chicken noodle soup a few years back, primarily for its affordable price and large portions that can be frozen for easy dinners. The soup retails at $4.34 for a pound, and the package contains roughly 4 pounds or the equivalent of eight servings.

Despite its fame among consumers, it's important to note that this soup isn't a great source of nutrients. For every 1-cup serving, you get 120 calories, 3 grams of fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium (more than one-third of your recommended daily intake), 13 grams of carbs (of which 2 grams are sugars), and 9 grams of protein. Some nutritional labels list the soup as containing even more sodium and saturated fats. Additionally, this soup is made with many processed ingredients such as sweeteners (maltodextrin and dextrose), modified starches (corn, potato, and tapioca), and enriched flours.

8. Nongshim Udon Noodle Soup

Nongshim udon noodle soup
Nongshim udon noodle soup - Nongshim

If you're looking for a quick-fix meal that's not your usual burger or Chipotle order, you can't go wrong with a classic udon. The noodles are served in a savory broth, making this a delicious dish to put together -- especially if it comes premade in a cup. Nongshim's udon noodle soup is a premium blend of thick-cut udon in a thin soy soup base with sparse veggies and fish flavorings topped with dry fish cakes. The brand also makes the famous Shin Ramyun and Shin black noodles, which are favorites among chefs and novices alike. You can buy a six-pack of Nongshim udon noodles from Costco for $3.17 per bowl.

On the nutritional front, it should be no surprise that a packaged noodle soup would fare pretty low. The Nongshim udon is no exception, packing 210 calories per serving (half a bowl) with 0.5 grams of fat, 910 milligrams of sodium, and 46 grams of carbs (including 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar). The udon also has 5 grams of protein and a combination of minerals in small amounts. It's worth noting that you'll be consuming double these nutrient amounts since most people will eat a full bowl and not the recommended half-bowl serving. At $19 for a six-pack, these noodles are pricey, unhealthy, and highly processed with artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and hydrolyzed proteins, making them an unsuitable choice even for a quick and easy meal.

9. Nongshim Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup

Nongshim shin ramyun noodle soup
Nongshim shin ramyun noodle soup - Nongshim

College students can testify to the sheer convenience of eating ramen soups daily, as they're easy to make, come together in a few minutes, and fill you up pretty quickly. The Nongshim Shin Ramyun noodle soup delivers the flavors of Korean ramen in a spicy beef broth with pieces of mushrooms, carrots, and a chewy noodle. This ramen noodle soup is much cheaper than its udon counterpart, retailing at Costco for $19.99 (depending on location) for an 18-pack.

As far as unhealthy noodle soups go, this one has to take the cake, packing an alarming amount of sodium and saturated fat per serving. For half a bag of this noodle soup you get 260 calories, 8 grams of fats (4 grams are saturated), 980 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbs (including 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of sugars), and 5 grams of protein. These figures total nearly 2,000 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of saturated fats, and 82 grams of carbs for every pack, which the average person will likely consume in a serving.

The ramen soup is also heavily processed, containing artificial flavorings, processed sweeteners like maltodextrin, hydrolyzed proteins (wheat, soy, corn), and modified starches that contribute to its high sodium and fat levels. It's also worth noting that consumers on Reddit describe Shin Ramyun as being very spicy, with some even complaining about heartburn.

10. Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Panera broccoli cheddar soup
Panera broccoli cheddar soup - Panera

Unfortunately, we're about to bust nearly everyone's beloved soup: broccoli cheddar from Panera. It shouldn't come as much of a shocker that a soup loaded with cheese and cream would be bad for your health. If you love the broccoli cheddar soup at Panera from a bread bowl, the packaged version is pretty similar, made with chopped broccoli and carrots in a velvety smooth cheese base. The soup retails at $10.99 for a four-pack, with 1 cup listed as a single serving.

Prepare yourself for the nutritional information on this soup, because it's not pretty. For every portion, you get 280 calories, 17 grams of fat (11 grams of saturated fats and 1 gram of trans fats), 60 milligrams of cholesterol, and 1,160 milligrams of sodium (more than half your recommended daily intake). There are also 20 grams of carbs (including 2 grams of fiber and 7 grams of sugar) and 11 grams of protein.

Not surprisingly, this soup contains processed ingredients like nisin that can cause gut problems if consumed often, trans fat which is harmful to your heart health, and processed cheese and heavy cream which contribute to its elevated fat and sodium levels. Additionally, the soup isn't even vegetarian, as its ingredients list chicken stock, meat, juices, and fats. The next time you're at Costco, reroute to the produce aisle to pick up some fresh broccoli and make this soup at home instead.

11. Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup

Campbell's chicken noodle soup pack
Campbell's chicken noodle soup pack - Campbell's

Another Campbell's soup consumers enjoy is condensed chicken noodle, which consists of a thick savory soup base with egg noodles and some chicken pieces. Its lower price point makes this one of the most affordable soups at Costco, but a quick look at the nutritional label will have you rethinking the savings.

Every serving has 130 calories, 3.5 grams of fats (1 gram of saturated fat), 30 milligrams of cholesterol, and a concerning 1,550 milligrams of sodium. There are also 19 grams of carbs, including 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of sugars, 5 grams of protein, and additives like monosodium glutamate. The label recommends a half-cup serving size but it's unlikely you'll eat such a small portion of what appears to be a harmless and otherwise nutritious soup.

Campbell's also has a Simply chicken noodle soup in its more nutritious line, made with whole chicken, vegetables, and broth without additives. However, a serving of this version is also pretty unhealthy, with 680 milligrams of sodium per 1 cup serving. You can get an eight-pack of the Simply chicken noodle soup at Costco for $15.99.

12. Snapdragon Vietnamese Beef Pho

Snapdragon pho
Snapdragon pho - Snapdragon Foods

Snapdragon specializes in noodle soups like pho and miso ramen, selling a range of flavors of both varieties. The Vietnamese beef pho is a Saigon-style recipe with a rich and spicy beef-flavored broth and rice noodles, and retails at Costco for $14.99 for a nine-pack at the time of writing.

Before you start to salivate at the description and the price, have a look at the questionable nutrients first. Every bowl has 220 calories, 3.5 grams of fats, (0.5 gram of saturated fats), 780 milligrams of sodium (more than one-third of your recommended daily intake), 45 grams of carbs (including 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of sugar), and 3 grams of protein. Additionally, the pho contains artificial flavors, added sugars, and flavor enhancers like disodium guanylate (which should be consumed cautiously for those with a history of gout or kidney stones). If you were thinking of trying out this store-bought version, it's better to avoid it and opt for a healthier pho recipe you can make at home instead.

Our Methodology

Campbell's soup cans
Campbell's soup cans - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

While formulating our list of the unhealthiest soups on Costco store shelves, certain ingredients like sodium and fat were highlighted more than others as they have harmful consequences when consumed in large quantities. It's worth noting that no soup had more than 300 calories per serving, which is an acceptable amount for one meal. However, the harmful nutrient levels make these soups unhealthy for frequent consumption in large quantities.

Consuming more sodium than the recommended daily intake of 2,300 milligrams is associated with high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, and stroke, while high saturated fat consumption is linked to increased blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, these two nutrients were closely observed in the packaged soups mentioned above, with a particular focus on sodium levels higher than 600 to 800 milligrams. Nearly all the soups listed also possess processed ingredients like artificial sweeteners and flavorings, and additives like MSG.

Read the original article on Mashed