Monday, June 28, 2010

Gluten-free chicken noodle soup review

When Health Valley changed their tune about some of their soups being gluten-free, I knew something was up, but had no idea what it was. Finally, when Gluten-free Café announced that they were bringing out a line of gluten-free soups, I made the connection.

Health Valley and Gluten-free Café are both owned by Hain Celestial. The company line is that from now on, they will not state anything is gluten-free unless they test the products for gluten. Fair enough. I asked if anything had changed in the Health Valley soup I’d been eating for years (cream of celery to be specific) and was told no, there had been no changes in the ingredients or suppliers for them. I’m so glad to still be able to enjoy that soup today as I use it in a chicken casserole recipe.

One thing I can’t have from the Health Valley line is chicken noodle soup. As with most mainstream versions of that soup, it contains regular wheat pasta noodles. How exciting to find out that the new Gluten-Free Café soups finally hit store shelves in my area. The only version I was interested in trying was the Chicken Noodle soup and it was almost always out of stock at the store I shop at.

Even though it’s been over 90 degrees every day for weeks now, I simply had to try the new soup as soon as I found it in stock. The ingredients are pretty – if not completely – clean. In other words, I can pronounce all of them and know what they are. There is no added MSG in the soup and they are certified by GIG’s rigorous CFCO program. OK- so, how was the soup? Overall it was pretty tasty, but the broth was a little bit cloudy for my liking. I like clear broths and this one doesn’t offer that at all. It does offer  great flavor and decent size tender chicken chunks, unlike the famous chicken noodle soup with the red and white label. The chicken in the Gluten-Free Café soup resembles that in Progresso’s Chicken with Rice gluten-free soup.

It seems like every month a new item is introduced that fills in the gluten foods replacement puzzle even more. Maybe in the future we’ll be able to find some powdered doughnuts (like those from Celiac Specialties) in the grocery store. Having a gluten-free version of chicken noodle soup is another piece of the puzzle. Actually, the Gluten Free Café soup is just the first canned version in the U.S. (that I’m aware of); Kettle Cuisine’s wonderful frozen gluten-free Chicken Noodle soup was introduced a few years ago. The soup from that line is the better of the two in my opinion, but it’s great to have a canned version as well!

The soups from Gluten-Free Café and Kettle Cuisine are sold at Natural Foods Warehouse and Return to Eden in Atlanta, and possibly at other stores around town. Gluten-free Cafe soups will soon be available as well. 

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