Saturday, January 16, 2016

Chef's Cupboard Chunky Clam Chowder (Aldi)

Not worth it.
I used to eat a lot of canned soups back in my bachelor days, because they were cheap, and very easy to make.  The older I’ve gotten, I’ve started paying at least a little bit more attention to what I put in my body, and so when I saw the ridiculously high level of sodium content in just about all brands of soups, I made a vow to cut back.  And cut back I did…this bowl of clam chowder was the first bowl of supermarket soup I’ve had in well over a year.

But we were completely broke, and I wanted something I could just throw into the microwave, so I broke down.  When I was single, I remembered really enjoying Aldi’s Clam Chowder (which goes under the Chef's Cupboard brand moniker), so I opted for a can of that.  My wife won’t go anywhere near this stuff, so I knew I was free to enjoy it all to myself.

Pouring the can into a bowl, I was actually surprised at just how…chunky everything is.  Some soups tend to be watered down, but this is filled with huge chunks of potato, noticeable hunks of clam, and even some large pieces of celery.  For a mass-produced product, I was expecting them to skimp out on all of those ingredients, and was surprised to find that they were all here, in great quantity.

That comes at a price, though, because where they did skimp is on flavor.  It just looks way more appetizing than it actually is.  I’m not saying that the soup is bad, but it certainly doesn’t even come close to living up to how appetizing it looks.  The potatoes are just potatoes…even in really good clam chowders, potatoes really don’t seem to serve as much more than added filler.  The problem is, everything else follows suit.  The actual soup portion has the perfect texture, and appears to be rich and creamy, but ends up tasting as bland as the potatoes.  The clam bits, while plentiful and appropriately chewy, also don’t add much in the way of taste.  The large (but very infrequent) chunks of celery are super-soft, and disappear in your mouth before you even have a chance to taste them.

These are the kinds of products where the massive sodium content is confusing--I ate a whole can in one sitting.  That means that I swallowed 72% of my recommended daily sodium intake.  You would think that would at least mean that everything is well-seasoned and full of flavor, but it’s not even close.  Where is all that salt going, and why isn’t any of it at least ending up on my taste buds?  It would work a lot more as an occasional splurge (healthwise) if it was rich and full of flavor.  Thankfully, my taste receptors seem to have evolved from my younger days, and I can say with confidence that it will be a very long time before I get this again.

Overall: 5/10.  The flavor isn’t all that bad, it’s just that there isn’t much there--and for 72% of your recommended daily sodium intake (per full can), it should be one of the most flavorful things in the world.  The texture is nice, with big chunks of potato and clam, and the occasional large chunk of celery, but all this just adds up to something that looks a lot better than it tastes.  Eating the whole can was at least filling (as it should be).  It’s been a long time since I’ve had canned soup (because of the sodium content, ironically) and it will certainly be a long time before I ever get this variety again.



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