Mr. Tidbit has been in a soup mood lately. Now there are new soups from two previously nonsoupy labels:
Marie Callender’s is a brand known mostly as a line of frozen foods from ConAgra. But from extensive research (typing “Marie Callender’s” into Google), it is learned that the company is a 50-year-old chain of pie-shop restaurants in the western United States.
There are now at least two kinds of Marie Callender’s ready-to-eat soup, in two-serving cans: Chicken & Dumplings and Chicken Pot Pie Style. The latter is described as “tender chunks of chicken and your favorite pot pie vegetables in a rich creamy broth brimming with herbs and spices.” So there’s no actual pie.
At one store, where the 18- to 19-ounce cans of Campbell’s and Progresso soups sell for around $2.50, the 15-ounce Marie Callender’s soups are $2.94.
And Ortega, maker of many Mexican-style food products, has introduced two dry (add water, heat on the stovetop) all-natural soup mixes: black bean soup with cilantro and tortilla soup with chipotle and cilantro.
The mixes, which (with three cups of water) make four cups of soup, cost $2.99 at the same store.
A new Kraft offering has three flavors of its Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese Dinner mixes in single-serve (1¼-cup) microwave tubs. The regular Homestyle offerings, which make four 1-cup servings, involve boiling the dry macaroni and preparing a cooked sauce with butter, milk and the included cheese and seasoning packets. The new single-serve mixes just have you add water and the seasoning packet to the tub, microwave and stir in the prepared cheese sauce.
At one store, where the stovetop mix costs $2.14 and the milk and butter together cost no more than 35 cents, for a total of 62 cents per cup, the 11/4 -cup microwave mix also costs $2.14 — $1.71 a cup, almost three times as much.
By Al Sicherman, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)