Old El Paso Canned Soups, Ranked From Worst To Best

Tex-Mex brand Old El Paso is the closest many home cooks get to the authentic flavors of the Southwest. From taco shells to enchilada sauces, the brand has cornered the market on making flavorful components for a host of culinary creations, making these beloved tastes accessible. The latest innovation is a line of hearty Southwestern soups infused with fantastic Sonoran flavors; pre-made specialties that save time and trouble while providing dishes designed to satisfy. It's a natural progression from the company that offers everything from homemade burrito bowl kits to Cinnamon Toast Crunch dessert-style taco shells.

These cans of savory goodness are only available at Walmart in limited markets for now, but a wide release is expected in summer 2024, just in time for warm weather get-togethers that could use a little extra seasoning. While we would have expected a release like this to happen in fall or winter when soup season is revving up, we couldn't pass up the chance to settle in with a bowl of each flavor to see what sort of enchanting eats Old El Paso has conjured up this time around. Even the thermostat can't hold us back from sampling the hottest new cans in the soup aisle. And since every flavor has its own special personality, we've ranked them based on our preference for taste, texture, and overall satisfaction, and we'll explain more about our ranking system towards the end. For now, here's the Old El Paso canned soup offerings ranked from worst to best. 

4. Jalapeño Chicken Noodle

If you fire up your stovetop for the added heat of powerful green peppers in Jalapeño Chicken Noodle, be prepared for a wet blanket of a concoction that'll quickly temper your excitement. This one is intended to be a spicier take on the classic chicken noodle, the soothing blend your nearest and dearest will make to get you back on your feet when you're ailing. In this instance, you have every reason to side-eye the ingredients on the label, since this is the only evidence of the presence of jalapeños in the whole experience.

The comparison that comes to mind is a chicken soup made with real noodles (hooray!) and Taco Bell hot sauce (wait, what?), a confusing mash-up of two cultural culinary profiles that would make much more sense in a handcrafted recipe passed down through a diverse family tree. It's workable on the nutrition scale, with only 100 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per one-cup serving. But confusion struck with the imbalance between jalapeño and the broth, a befuddling turn of events considering the name of the soup begins with the word "jalapeño". Sadly, Old El Paso didn't tap into the truest spirit of what a real jalapeño chicken noodle soup could be. No one's asking, but if there's a reworking of the recipe in the future, we recommend more jalapeño — the ingredient that is actually on the can – and less taco sauce.

3. Chipotle Chicken Tortilla

The growing popularity of chicken tortilla soup over the past several years has planted the concept of what a proper version of this soup should taste like. While Old El Paso makes a valiant attempt to recreate the consummate combination of seasonings, the company's Chipotle Chicken Tortilla comes up a bit short, resulting in a soup that's blander than expected and severely lacking in chipotle. It's possible that our palate has already acclimated to the best homemade version of chicken tortilla soup and gauges a canned recreation as wildly inferior. Anyone new to this culinary charmer may find themselves in soup heaven when they crack the lid.

This off-kilter bowl-filler happens to be the lightest of the soups on the shelf, with only 90 calories and one gram of fat per one-cup serving, which may make it a more enticing option for anyone looking to keep their consumption under control. But with so much missing in the potential for sensational flavor, you might want to doctor it a little bit with some garlic, onion, and cumin powders to punch up the Tex-Mex magic. Granted, you shouldn't have to manipulate a ready-to-eat soup to get it ready to enjoy. But if you want a pre-prepped product that gets you 95% of the way there and just needs a little push to get it over the finish line, this is a prime can-didate (see what we did there).

2. Chicken Cheese Enchilada-Style

We thought digging into a bowl of Old El Paso Chicken Cheese Enchilada would be like dining on a bowl of Nana's best chicken enchiladas soaked in a savory, spicy broth to make the deal even more enticing. For the most part, our anticipation was rewarded with a robust base incorporating chicken broth and cream cheese for a smooth liquid that had just enough oomph for our liking. Seasoning arrived in the form of tomatoes, onions, and sweet green pepper, while the chicken was tender, if not overly impressive. We also found a liberal amount of cheddar melting along with the cream to make things even more luscious.

With 160 calories and 11 grams of fat in each one-cup serving, this soup is a bit on the indulgent side. If premium ingredients, satisfying texture, and undeniable flavor outweigh your nutritional concerns, you could easily fit a serving of Chicken Cheese Enchilada into a dinner with a salad or a sliced tortilla without bending the rules too far. But even with all of its delicious virtues to offer, a soup that turns a traditional Mexican favorite into a spoonable entrée is in hot competition for the top spot in our ranking with one remaining can, another creamy dish that just barely edged it out.

1.Chipotle Corn Chowder

Creamy and comforting, Old El Paso Corn Chowder is a shelf-stable soup that maximizes the possibilities of a staple in the Mexican and Native American pantry. Taco-syle seasoning is generously apportioned, giving what could have turned out to be a monotonous mix a welcome Southwestern kick. The inclusion of both cream and butter provides the base with a sturdy texture that's well-equipped to enrobe whole kernels of corn, potatoes, and even red bell peppers in silken goodness. No one has ever accused a proper corn chowder of holding back the hearty ingredients, and this is certainly the case here. 

It's no surprise that this sumptuous spooner is also the richest in the collection, carrying 170 calories and 6 grams of fat with every one-cup serving. But with such a decadent soup in the bowl, one cup was plenty to satisfy without feeling the need for a second dip. All nutritional facts considered, it is great to have the option of keeping canned Old El Paso Corn Chowder in the pantry for moments when a Tex-Mex soup craving hits but the work involved is daunting. We can also see this one jazzed up with extra cheese and maybe a can of green chiles, transforming it into a fresh-yet-unfussy dish for a dinner party or potluck; a much easier prospect than making a similar soup entirely from scratch.

How we determined our ranking

To set the tone, we began by imagining our mid-21st century kitchen was a mission-style cantina in 1800s Arizona. Then, we cracked open each can and heated them until servable before diving in. We were on the lookout for complex texture, satisfying seasoning profiles, and a sense of authenticity that tied the soups back to the Tex-Mex tradition Old El Paso prides itself on providing. Each soup was sampled with a single bite, with first impressions captured before trying another sample to add to the initial experience. Sometimes, taste number one was deceptive and taste number two helped us clarify our thoughts. Other times, there was no redeeming taste number one; at these moments, taste number two affirmed what we first suspected.

Because a bowl of soup (or four, in this instance) just doesn't qualify as a full-fledged Mexican meal in our culinary worldview, we enjoyed ours with quesadillas, similar to having standard soups with slices of sourdough. It was the perfect accent to fill out the menu without overwhelming the soup flavors.