Taste Test: Chicken Broth

This is the first in a new category which you may or may not have noticed, named Taste Tests where I pit two or more products head to head to see which is really the best. I've been doing this off and on for the last few years. My goal is to save money on no-name brands where taste makes no difference but spend the big bucks where it really does. Like when you buy butter instead of margarine, or shiitake mushrooms instead of button mushrooms. On with the show!

Yesterday I tried out a new (to me) recipe for tortilla soup. It turned out quite delicious by the way, despite my initial fears that it was lacking in the seasonings department. The calls for 4 cups of chicken stock or broth. We were at the dreaded Walmart picking up supplies and I couldn't decide whether to get the Swanson's or the Great Value (cheap Walmart brand). Since I needed two 14.5 ounce cans, I grabbed one of each.

To test I poured small amounts (since I needed the rest for the soup) into two small glasses. One had cute flowers on it so they were easy to differentiate. My wife warmed them up in the microwave since generally (always?) chicken broth will be eaten warm. I closed my eyes and she gave me the glasses one at a time.

The first one had a nice round taste. Not too much of anything, and certainly not too salty which was my primary fear. I probably could have enjoyed a bowl of that with some noodles and called it lunch.

The second had some good flavors, don't get me wrong, but my first reaction upon taste was "gimme the other one back". I took a few sips but couldn't identify what it was that I didn't like. It wasn't salt, that would have been too easy. The flavors just didn't marry well. The only way I can think to describe it is with music. Go play a nice C chord. That was the first sample. Now add an F#. That's the second one. You can still pick out the nice sound, but you would much rather it stop.

The result? The second was Great Value. I should have (and did) guess based on the package. Swanson's is just so much more appetizing. And we all know that old story about a book and its cover. "Don't eat a book or its cover. Have some Swanson's chicken broth instead."



Great Value?

Swanson's is good stuff. Sadly, I have moved away from them, in favor of an organic brand. Not because the new brand is organic, mind you. It's because a) the new brand comes in a resealable carton and b) they sell said carton at CostCo. They sell Swanson's there too, but only in cans.

I would be interested to see a taste test between organic and non-organic. We have a bottle of organic Heinz ketchup in our fridge right now, because it was actually cheaper than the non-organic bottle of the same brand. I've never pitted the two against each other, though.

Re: Great Value?

I have to admit I was a little biased toward the Swanson's as they won America's Test Kitchen's taste test as well. An interesting idea about the organic though. I often wonder if organic versions of things will taste better. I'm sure you'll see a few of them show up in future taste tests.

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