Campbell's New Chunky Ghost Pepper Chicken Noodle Soup—Taste-Tested!

Let’s be clear: I love spicy foods. Hang on, I need a quick sip of water first. Whew! Let me just wipe my brow and maybe get some milk, too. Oh man!

OK, let’s try that again: I love spicy foods, and I love soup. So, why all the sweating, the water and milk, the red-faced panting and the sudden desire to change my shirt or maybe even take a shower?

Well, I just ate an entire can of Campbell’s new limited-edition soup, Chunky Ghost Pepper Chicken Noodle. And yes, in case you were wondering, I am glad I did so in complete privacy where no one could see my flushed and sweat-soaked face, or hear my groans and mumblings.

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That is not to say that I didn’t like the stuff. As a guy who adds hot sauce to virtually everything, including soup, this product seemed tailor-made for people like me. 

“Our spiciest soup to date,” according to Campbell’s press release, which also asks daring souls to sign a waiver in order to try it. Only the first 500 people who sign up on Jan. 27 will get to taste this ultra-spicy soup. The so-called “waiver” is actually a “total joke,” the release goes on to say, which is “just part of the fun.”

The Ghost Pepper itself, however, is no joke. If you’re unfamiliar, you should know that the Ghost Pepper comes from India, where it reportedly is used to repel wild elephants and to quell riots. It’s very powerful stuff!

For a brief time, the Ghost Pepper even claimed the title of world’s hottest pepper in the Guinness Book of World Records, measuring over 1 million Scoville units—more than 100 times hotter than the common jalapeño. Several hotter peppers have come along since then, but that doesn’t make it any less potent.

According to Campbell’s, the new Ghost Pepper-spiced soup is “a staggering 13 times spicier than Chunky Spicy Chicken Noodle [soup].” And, while I’m not sure exactly how the company calculated that figure, it seems about right to me.

As the chili-loaded soup simmered on the stove, I leaned in and detected a distinctly piquant aroma, along with that classic, savory chicken soup scent. It wasn’t threatening—not like an eye-burning, throat-scalding pepper spray attack, or anything like that—but it was prominent, as was the red cast of the soup in the pot. When it was ready, I poured it into a bowl, sat down, and took a deep breath. Then I ate three large spoonfuls in quick succession.

And then I immediately started sweating and flushing red. After sucking in a breath or two, I reached for some cold water. This soup is remarkably spicy, probably way too spicy. It is at the very outside limits of what can be called enjoyable to ingest, but me being someone who likes it hot, I did indeed ingest every last spoonful of the stuff. 

It took a while, to be sure, and with every bite I must say I did rather miss the comforting flavor of classic chicken noodle soup. Campbell’s Ghost Pepper Chicken Noodle soup is so spicy you can’t really taste anything. A bit of saltiness, sure: 1,700 milligrams of sodium in a single can, according to label. You also get a hint of chicken and carrot and such, but really, it’s all burn. 

If you are daring enough to try it, I’d recommend this approach: blend one can of classic, non-spicy chicken noodle soup with one can of this stuff and eat that. That way, you’ll actually be able to taste more than fire, and you may not need to change shirts, suck down milk (or chow down on antacid tablets), and recover for a solid 15 minutes after your meal.

If you do decide to eat Ghost Pepper Chicken Noodle soup straight up, one more piece of advice: do what I did and eat it where no one can see you.

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