Is condensed soup less condensed than it used to be?
February 19, 2017 11:40 AM   Subscribe

I would swear that most condensed soups (particularly tomato and Campbell's Black Bean, which they sadly discontinued sometime in the mid 2000's) used to come out of the can in a single semi-solid mass. Now, even Campbell's Tomato Soup runs out of the can like thick catsup. Am I mis-remembering my earlier soup experiences, confusing opening soup cans with opening cranberry sauce cans, or have soup manufacturers changed the condensing process or ratio?

Googling has turned up nothing, so I am wondering if others remember "thicker" condensed soup like me, or have any direct knowledge of the history of the manufacturing process (or even have some old cans in their basement they would be willing to open up - FOR SCIENCE!)
posted by yhbc to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW, I've noticed the same thing, both in the US and in Canada.
posted by rpfields at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

I rarely ate their cream of mushroom when young in part because I was kinda grossed out by how lumpy it was when you mixed the milk in. I remember noticing that it mixed up smoothly easier if I heated the concentrate first and then slowly added the milk. You could definitely see the ridges from the side of the can. (This was approx 30 years ago and I haven't had it regularly enough since to figure out when it changed. In Canada.)
posted by kmennie at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

My understanding (and experience) is that they are now condensed with agents that stay softer in the can and therefore mix faster and better with liquid, and also don't melt as thoroughly as they used to so the soup in the end has approximately the same texture as before with less work.

Cream of Chicken soup has been a life staple, and yes it used to go "shoop!" out of the can into the pan. Now I have to use a spatula.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2017 [14 favorites]

It seems that Campbell's is adjusting its recipes.
posted by oceano at 11:54 AM on February 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh, and here's an article going back to '02.
posted by oceano at 12:00 PM on February 19, 2017

I used to like the bean with bacon, and you had to carve it out of the can.
posted by theora55 at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Split pea's still that way. In my experience, chicken noodle never was. (It's rare that I have any other flavor of Campbell's soup, so dunno.)
posted by Rash at 12:58 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The way it came out of the can in one big semi-solid mass was mostly due to the starches added to it. A chemist friend of mine used to work at National Starch and Chemical in NJ where they developed starches for lots of different processed foods. As the article linked by oceano shows, they are taking a lot of additives out, including, my guess is, those gloppifying starches of yore.
posted by beagle at 2:08 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tomato used to come out in a lump, now, not much; you have to hassle and scrape. Oh, the uncomplicated soups of my childhood!
posted by The otter lady at 4:30 PM on February 19, 2017 [12 favorites]

The Beef with Vegetables and Barley, similar to the Tomato, used to come in one big lump in the can, now it's a watery mess of crap.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 4:59 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really miss the chunky lump of Cream of Mushroom. The texture of the current sticky, smooth version creeps me out a little and I don't enjoy the cooked soup anymore.
posted by LibraryScientist at 8:18 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks to all who confirmed it's not just me, and that they did do something to the soup. In the absence of Actual Food Scientist showing up with chemical formulas and stuff, I'm going to say Lyn Never has the best answer and most condensed soup has been *tweaked* in the last several years to mix with water more efficiently.
posted by yhbc at 8:38 PM on February 19, 2017

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