Wendyl Wants To Know
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl Nissen: This chicken has crossed the road

By Wendyl Nissen

Campbell's Country Ladle Roast Chicken & Winter Vegetable Soup. Photo / Supplied
Campbell's Country Ladle Roast Chicken & Winter Vegetable Soup. Photo / Supplied

Grabbing a can of soup on a cold winter's night or for lunch on the run is a great idea and most of them contain very few problem ingredients because canning means there is no need for preservatives. What else goes into them varies from producer to producer but this one caught my eye because one ingredient in particular seemed to make a poor showing in the ingredients list.

Campbell's Country Ladle Roast Chicken & Winter Vegetable Soup. $3.50 for 505g.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):

Vegetables (54 per cent) (Carrots, potatoes, celery, pumpkin, onions, spinach, leeks)

More than half this soup is made up of vegetables which is great. You'll get "more than three serves of vegetables per can." According to the label they are "farm picked" with a picture of a tractor, which I think is supposed to make you feel they are unique and premium but when you think about it, all vegetables are farm picked.

Chicken stock (Water, chicken, herb extracts)

This is a nice "clean" stock with no additives such as flavour enhancers or preservatives. These would be the ingredients for chicken stock made at home with a few vegetables thrown in.

Chicken (4 per cent)

When I asked various members of my family how much chicken they thought would be in this can of soup the answers ranged from 15 per cent to the very optimistic 45 per cent. At 4 per cent this means there is very little chicken in here. In fact there is 20.2g, which is about a 10th of an average-sized chicken breast.

Potato starch

This will be in here to thicken the soup.

Cream (from milk)

Also in here for thickening but also possibly for flavour.

Modified tapioca starch (E1442)

Possibly another thickener.

Salt

This product is quite high in salt at 602mg per 250g serve. People on a low-salt diet are encouraged to consume about 920g of sodium per day.

Sugar

Not too much sugar in here but still enough for a teaspoon at 4.7g.

Vegetable protein extract

This is a product usually made by hydrolysis, which means taking vegetable matter and cooking it in hydrochloric acid. The result is a product with a meaty broth taste.

Flavour enhancer (E635)

Disodium 5'-ribo nucleotide a chemical flavour enhancer commonly found in processed food to replace the unpopular MSG.

Mineral salts (E452, E450, E451, E500)

The first three mineral salts are diphosphates, which are salts of phosphoric acid and the fourth is sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. These could be in here as emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilisers or pH regulators.

Soy protein

This additive is a cost-effective way of adding protein to a food that may not have much, as with this one with its 4 per cent of chicken. The nutrition information lists 5.1g of protein per 250g serve.

Maltodexestrin (from wheat)

This is another form of sugar, which is probably in here for taste.

My recommendations

With just 4 per cent or 20.2g chicken I think the name of this soup should be changed from Roast Chicken and Winter Vegetables to Winter Vegetables with Roast Chicken, or perhaps even Winter Vegetables that once called out to a chicken as it was walking past. The lack of chicken means that this is a reasonably affordable soup but it also means that to achieve the correct flavour, additives such as a flavour enhancer and vegetable protein are required to give it a chicken taste. But if you're happy to accept this soup as primarily vegetable soup then it is fine. It's 98 per cent fat free, has three serves of vegetables per 505g can, has no artificial colours or MSG and is a good source of fibre at 3.8g per 250g serve.

Highlights

• Only 4 per cent chicken.
• Has added flavour enhancers and vegetable protein for meaty taste.
• Contains 54 per cent vegetable.

- NZ Herald

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