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Top Picks

How we choose: The best soups highlighted here were selected based on 11 reviews of 9 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Good To-Go New England Corn Chowdah

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

With complex flavors and an intoxicating aroma, this meal is particularly well-suited for winter backcountry trips. C'mon, who doesn't love a good chowder after a day in the snow? It includes dehydrated fish flakes, which was a pleasant surprise, but I did experience some rehydration issues with other ingredients.

Reasons to Buy

  • Intoxicatingly pleasant smell
  • Complex flavor
  • Easy to pack-in and pack-out
  • Resealable pouch
  • Simple instructions

Reasons to Avoid

  • One ingredient doesn't rehydrate like the rest (it's either carrot or sweet potato, but I can't tell which)
  • Low-contrast text on front of packaging
  • Would love to see the fill line added to the inside of the package.

To give you a little background on how and in what conditions I tested this meal, below is a description of two separate tests.   Testing Meal #1 - After a 3.5-mile sunset hike in chilly, windy conditions (30°F), my wife and I sat down lakeside to relax and cook up the New England Corn Chowdah (yes, that is how the manufacturer spells it because that is apparently how New Englanders say it, "chowdah" instead of "chowder"). Being lakeside with the winds beginning to worsen and the sun already set, it was hard to wait the necessary 15 minutes for the meal to rehydrate (and that is already after waiting for the water to boil), but we somehow managed.

Read more: Good To-Go New England Corn Chowdah review (1)

AlpineAire Spicy African Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

This is a really different, generally satisfying meal. It won't become a go-to in my cookbox, but it certainly has a place as a change of pace.

Reasons to Buy

  • quick and easy
  • vegetarian
  • low sodium
  • good spice levels

Reasons to Avoid

  • mildly unsatisfying if not shared

This was an absolutely intriguing offering. I was definitely concerned about the idea of a peanut stew—would this be like eating watered-down peanut butter with some vegetables thrown in? Was is going to be a basic vegetable stew with whole peanuts floating in it? There was only one way to find out: buy it and try it. Tearing open the bag for the first time did little to assuage my concerns—the scent of peanuts was all but overwhelming. But I was in the middle of a 12-mile hike, and I was hungry.  There was no going back.

Read more: AlpineAire Spicy African Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes review (1)

AlpineAire Shakshuka

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Shakshuka: a spicy north African stew of eggs, tomatoes, and vegetables traditionally served with fresh, warm pita bread here presented as a rice-based freeze-dried meal.

Reasons to Buy

  • spicy
  • quick and easy
  • satisfying

Reasons to Avoid

  • flavor is overwhelmed by spice
  • texture is monotonous
  • a little expensive?

Once again, trying out unconventional meals in search of the perfect backpacking breakfast :) This isn't it, but it is a tasty, satisfying meal—and definitely off the beaten path. Preparation and Ingredients:I followed the package directions: 2 cups boiling water, stir. I gave it an extra stir at 5 minutes before the final stir at 12 minutes.  Everything rehydrated fully, and the water level was just right to feel that I was eating a stew rather than a soup. I appreciated that. I also appreciated the generous portion of egg protien and vegetables.

Read more: AlpineAire Shakshuka review (1)

Patagonia Provisions Organic Green Lentil Soup

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

A very simple organic soup, spiced right, that summons the memory of Americanized Indian food to my palate. It’s a little pricey for dehydrated soup but a worthy splurge.

Reasons to Buy

  • Very tasty and not over-spiced
  • Decent amount of protein for a vegetarian soup (26g)
  • Not a weird over-earthy flavor profile like many organic soups

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • *Not a cook-in-bag product (not a con for me)
  • High in sodium at 840mg per package

Ingredients Organic Dehydrated Lentils, Organic Bulgur Wheat, Organic Dehydrated Chopped Onion, Salt, Organic Spices, Organic Dehydrated Green Bell Pepper, Organic Dehydrated Minced Garlic, Organic Dehydrated Red Bell Pepper, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Ground Rice Hulls, Organic Yeast Extract, Organic Sunflower Oil Nutrition Serving Size 1/2 cup (62g) dry Servings Per Container 2 Calories 210 (Calories from Fat 15) Total Fat 1.5g (2% Daily Value) Saturated Fat 0g (0%) Trans Fat 0g Cholesterol 0mg (0%) Sodium 420mg (18%) Total Carbohydrate 40g (13%) Dietary Fiber 7g (28%)  Sugars 1g Protein 13g Prologue I’ve bought enough stuff from Patagonia over the years that they keep mailing me the artsy color catalogs every season.

Read more: Patagonia Provisions Organic Green Lentil Soup reviews (2)

Stowaway Gourmet Wild Boar Bacon Bean Stew

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Restaurant quality, at lower than restaurant prices...on the trail, no less. This is one of the best things I have put in my mouth, ever.

Reasons to Buy

  • Strong flavors
  • Appropriate portions
  • NO gassiness in spite of the beans!

Reasons to Avoid

  • a little pricey

Continuing to work my way through the Stowaway Gourmet catalog (as it becomes available), we come to their Wild Boar Bacon and Bean Stew. What is Wild Boar Bacon?  Apparently, it is "feral pig" meat, cured as a bacon. Easy. Thick cuts of belly meat, just like standard upscale supermarket bacon, as evidenced by strong marbling and a great whack of salt. (I suspect that most of the sodium in this meal comes from the bacon.) But savor that thick, chewy cut of meat for just a little while and the salt dissipates, leaving the boar-bacon flavor to shine.

Read more: Stowaway Gourmet Wild Boar Bacon Bean Stew review (1)

Patagonia Provisions Organic Red Bean Chili

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1 review)

A fully organic chili with high protein and a flavor profile dominated by red chili, this meal will fill you up and provide good energy, but may not tantalize your taste buds (unless you really dig a strong red chili flavor).

Reasons to Buy

  • High in protein for full package (35 grams)
  • Fully organic ingredients
  • Very filling

Reasons to Avoid

  • High in sodium (950 mg per package)
  • Beans took a while to get soft
  • Flavor is good but unremarkable, one ingredient is dominant

Ingredients: Organic Red Beans, Organic Pinto Beans, Organic Dehydrated Tomato Powder, Organic Dehydrated Diced Tomato, Organic Ground Red Chili, Organic Dehydrated Carrots, Organic Dehydrated Red Bell Pepper, Salt, Organic Ground Rice Hulls, Organic Ground Cumin, Organic Dehydrated Garlic, Organic Ground Chipotle Peppers, Organic Yeast Extract Nutrition: Serving Size 1/2 cup (65g) Servings Per Container 2.5 Calories 220 Total Fat 2g (3% Daily Value) Saturated Fat 0g (0%) Trans Fat 0g Cholesterol 0mg (0%) Sodium 380mg (17%) Total Carbohydrate 40g (15%) Dietary Fiber 12g (43%)  Sugars 5g Protein 14g Prologue I’ve bought enough stuff from Patagonia over the years that they keep mailing me the artsy color catalogs every season.

Read more: Patagonia Provisions Organic Red Bean Chili review (1)

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