Sunday, November 25, 2018

Chef's Cupboard Chunky Baked Potato With Cheddar and Bacon Bits Canned Soup (Aldi)

It's decent, as far as mass-produced canned soups are concerned.
I have denounced at least a couple of Aldi's other soup offerings over the years, and yet here I am, sitting with a bowl of yet another one. Why, you ask? I wanted something simple to make, and if soup is one thing, it's very simple to make. We were at the end of a shopping trip and I realized I didn't have much in the cart for “just me”, that is, lazy stuff that I can make for myself when my wife is gone for the evening. I thought of the usual suspects-- a frozen pizza, TV dinner, sandwiches—but I'd had too many of all of those things lately. And so I ended up staring down several cans of soup, with wildly varying degrees of acceptance: that one looks too gross, that one only looks okay, etc. until one of them spoke back to me and said, “I am the one you should take home with you.”

The voice belonged to Chef's Cupboard's Baked Potato with Cheddar and Bacon Bits Soup. Potato soup by itself is a relatively straightforward affair, simple to make and hard to screw up. It's generally pretty light in flavor on its own, so this seemed like a solid combination, as the cheese and bacon bits could liven things up a little bit. Obviously, they were going for a “baked potato” kind of combination, which I wasn't expecting to translate entirely into soup form, but it seemed like it would at least be edible.

When I transferred it from the can to a bowl, I was kind of dismayed at how soft and liquidy it was. I expected the soup part to be a little bit thicker, like a chowder, but I guess “soup” is generally more runny than “chowder”. It also comes out a rather unappetizing hue of light brown...not quite in the color realm of “poop”, but kind of reminiscent of vomit, especially with the potato chunks. I'm not doing a good job of explaining this right now, am I?

Thankfully, this soup tastes better than its appearance lead me to believe, even if the cheddar flavor is pretty much nonexistent. Still, the bacon bits are clearly there, as are large chunks of potato, and the soup itself is more or less how I imagined it at the store: potato soup with bacon bits. Because of canned soup's natural propensity to be filled with salt, I did stop to think that the bacon would only add more, threatening to make this a sodium-filled mess. I'm sure it is (didn't even stop to look at the nutrition info, honestly), but it doesn't taste like one. Many soups give me that “sodium burn” from excessive salt, but I didn't really feel that with this, nor did I feel the threat of it coming on. Again, I'm sure there's a lot of sodium in here, but it's at least not super-noticeable on the tongue.

It's a shame that there's not really much in the way of cheese, because that could have really given the soup some added “oomph”. While the bacon bits are noticeable, they are so small, and swimming in so much soup, that they don't really add much to the flavor, which is kind of a letdown. With enough added cheddar to make an impact on the flavor, this might be something special; even as it is now, though, it's one of the better canned soups that I've had from Aldi. And you can always just grab a package of cheddar cheese while you're there and add some yourself.

Overall: 5.5/10. Canned soups aren't really my thing, but as far as they go, this one is pretty good. Sadly, the cheddar flavor is pretty much nonexistent, and so this reminded me simply of a potato soup, but with the addition of bacon bits. The bits don't add much flavor, but they do add a little extra texture in an otherwise dry, bland landscape of potatoes and soup. To its credit, it doesn't taste nearly as salt-filled as many other canned soups, so it earns points for that, while the $1.49 asking price is pretty reasonable for a heaping helping of the stuff. It's not going to win any awards, but it's something perfectly edible that you can store in your pantry and forget about it...until you're too lazy to go grocery shopping for a week and need to eat it out of desperation.



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