Most people who are new to the gluten-free diet don't imagine that soup is a risk after all, soup and bread have little in common, right?
Er, wrong. Many canned soups contain gluten ingredients, frequently in the form of thickeners. "Cream"-based soups usually feature far more wheat flour than cream.
So if you need gluten-free soup, what should you do? Fortunately, the growing popularity of the gluten-free diet has led major soup manufacturers to produce some soup flavors that don't include wheat, barley or rye as ingredients. In addition, a few specialty soup makers produce mostly gluten-free soup.
One note: As you're perusing this list of gluten-free soups (and possibly thinking about your next bowl of piping hot minestrone), remember that most of these soups are considered gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This is a low enough gluten level to have them qualify for "gluten-free" labeling, but they may still contain enough gluten to give you a reaction, depending on your sensitivity level. For more on this, see:
- Why Gluten PPM Numbers Matter
- Gluten PPM Table - Testing Levels for Gluten-Free Manufacturers
- Why You Can Eat Gluten-Free And Still Have Symptoms
Also, this list applies only to the United States; for products' gluten-free status in other countries, including Canada, you'll need to check with the manufacturers.
Okay, enough caveats. Here's the list of gluten-free soups, updated as of October 2012:
- Amy's Kitchen. A total of 21 of Amy's 29 soups are considered gluten-free to 20ppm (GF-20). (You can see Amy's full gluten-free list here.) Some selections also feature reduced sodium, and most are organic. Look for Amy's products in the health food section of the grocery store.
- Bookbinders Specialties. This Philadelphia-based gourmet soup company launched six gluten-free soups in 2010: New England Clam Chowder, Southwestern Clam & Corn Chowder, Brandywine Mushroom, Butternut Squash & Mushroom, Sweet Burgundy Onion and Zesty Tomato. It since has added Sicilian Burgundy Onion, Irish Potato Leek, Cuban Black Bean, Sicilian Tomato Zucchini Bisque and Tuscan Minestrone to its gluten-free lineup. All are tested to below 20ppm (GF-20), and are available by mail order or in supermarkets, mainly in the northeastern U.S. Be aware that Bookbinders also makes gluten-containing soups.
- Campbell Soup Company. Unfortunately for those who long for an iconic red-and-white can of Campbell soup, none of the company's namesake soup varieties currently appears on Campbell's gluten-free list.
- College Inn. College Inn makes broths, not complete soups. Four of these broths garden vegetable broth, organic beef broth, tender beef bold stock and white wine & herb broth are considered gluten-free to 20ppm (GF-20), according to the company's gluten-free list.
- Frontier Soup. Frontier makes 28 varieties of gluten-free soup mixes, including such flavors as New Orleans Jambalaya, Texas Wrangler Black Bean and Nebraska Barnraising Split Pea. All are certified gluten-free by the Celiac Sprue Association (CSA), which requires testing to below 5ppm of gluten (GF-5). Frontier Soup mixes are available online or at upscale supermarket chains.
- Health Valley. Health Valley is a Hain Celestial Group subsidiary. Some Health Valley soups appear to be gluten-free by their ingredients, but none are listed on Hain Celestial's gluten-free list, which means they may contain hidden gluten or be subject to gluten cross-contamination in production. Therefore, I would advise caution with these soups.
- Healthy Choice. Healthy Choice is a ConAgra company. ConAgra will declare wheat on its labels but not all gluten sources (gluten, of course, can come from wheat, barley or rye). Therefore, I would steer clear of Healthy Choice soups, even if they appear to contain no gluten ingredients.
- Imagine Foods. Imagine, another Hain Celestial Group company, reports that all varieties of its soups are gluten-free to 20ppm (GF-20) except for Organic Creamy Chicken and Imagine Bistro Bisques. Hain Celestial marks gluten-free products with a red, upside-down triangle with the words "gluten-free" in it, so look for that symbol on Imagine soups before buying. Imagine soups come in boxes, not cans, and usually are found in the supermarket "natural" section.
- Pacific Natural Foods. Pacific, which makes soups in shelf-stable boxes instead of cans, includes almost all its soups on its gluten-free list. Pacific tests its products to GF-20 levels. Be aware that gluten-containing products may be manufactured in the same facility or on the same equipment as Pacific's gluten-free products. Like Imagine soups, Pacific soups usually are found in the "natural" or health food section of the supermarket, although sometimes stores will stock them next to more conventional soups.
- Progresso. General Mills owns Progresso, and the company now labels many of its soups "gluten-free." You can choose from varieties that include traditional Manhattan Clam Chowder, reduced sodium Garden Vegetable, and traditional Split Pea with Ham, among many others. Progresso soups are tested to GF-20 levels, and those that are considered gluten-free will be prominently labeled.
- Swanson. Swanson, a Campbell Soup company, makes seven beef, chicken and vegetable broth products that are considered gluten-free to 20ppm (GF-20). For the list, see the Campbell Soup gluten-free list linked above.
- Wolfgang Puck. Wolfgang Puck (another Campbell Soup company) has introduced several "gluten-free"-labeled soups considered to be below 20ppm, or GF-20 levels. Options include Free Range Chicken with White and Wild Rice, Signature Tortilla, Tomato Basil Bisque, Hearty Lentil Vegetable, and Black Bean. According to the company, soups that "share manufacturing processes and equipment with gluten containing ingredients and products" will not be labeled gluten-free. In addition, Wolfgang Puck says it will "perform ongoing testing on finished products on a frequency of at least once every six months to assure continued compliance with our gluten-free policy."
Of course, if you can't find a gluten-free soup you like from the lists above (or even if you can), you always can make your own. About.com's Guide to Gluten-Free Cooking has some excellent soup recipes, including potato leek soup and bean soup with corned beef check out the list here.