YouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor

What’s yours? Tomato tops poll as Britons’ favourite soup, ahead of potato, leek and chicken

Tomato soup has been voted the nation’s favourite soup flavour as winter draws closer, the clocks go back and Christmas beckons. Well over a quarter of the British public picked tomato as their most-loved soup, while potato and leek came in second, and chicken third, on our winter warming list.

  • 37% of Brits rated tomato soup as their favourite, with men and women, and all ages agreeing on this
  • Potato and leek soup gained second place in the eyes of the public, at 17%
  • Closely followed by chicken soup at 16%
  • Carrot & coriander classic gained 13% of the vote, while 12% opted for mushroom
  • Pea & ham, broccoli & stilton and French onion came next with 10% apiece

Older and younger people have slightly different tastes once the universal favourite tomato is taken out the equation, however.  

  • Chicken proved most popular with people between the ages of 25-39, 22% of whom rated the soup among their favourites, compared to just 10% of those over 60 years of age
  • Those aged 60 and over preferred soups such as pea & ham, broccoli & stilton and French onion, with double the percentage of the elder group (12%-14%) picking these than in the youngest group (5%)
  • Older people were more partial to more unusual delights such as oxtail (10% of over 60s compared to 3% of 18-25 year olds) and the healthy-sounding asparagus (8% compared to 2% respectively)
  • Whereas 18-25 year olds were more partial to some chicken & mushroom (12% of 18-24 year olds compared to 7% of the over 60s), chicken noodle (11% compared to 4%) and chicken and vegetable (14% and 6%).

And although tomato and potato and leek were the clear favourites in Scotland, the country bucked the trend with its next choice, putting lentil soup on 27% - making it around four times more popular there than in the rest of the UK regions.

  • The least favourite soup was undoubtedly nettle (support for which was so small that it netted just 0%)

Healthy option

It is a well-known fact that a deep bowl of steamy soup can warm you up from head to toe on a cold day – indeed, just 4% of people in our poll said that they do not like soup. Eating soup is also often cited as way to help people lose weight, as eating a bowlful before a meal is said to make you feel full earlier and cut back on other food.

In 2007, researchers at Pennsylvania State University tested this soup regime, and discovered that participants who had a first course of soup before lunch reduced their total calorie intake by 20%, compared with those who did not begin the meal with soup.

But those who favour creamy soups should beware. It was stressed that the soup must be low-calorie and based on stock, not cream. However, scientists were surprised to find that thick soups with chunks of vegetables also had the same effect.

The soup of our ancestors

Soup is considered by some to be as old as the history of cooking. In times when food was scarce, dumping various ingredients into a pot to boil was not only cheap, it was filling. Its simple constitution made it accessible to rich and poor alike, and the variety of ingredients made it easy to digest for the both the healthy and sick. Each culture adopted its own variation for the ingredients and climate conditions on hand ‒ such as Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht or Italian minestrone ‒ but the basics remain the same.

For its part, chicken soup is known by many as a cure-all food for the ill and infirm. Seen as restorative and reassuring, ‘Chicken Soup’ is also a well-known, extensive (and sometimes parodied) series of ‘motivational’ books sold in the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK, including over 200 titles addressing a variety of issues on the ‘inspirational’ theme ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’.  

Tomato soup, however, is perhaps less famous for its motivational qualities, and more so for its sheer popularity (although Heinz has recently published a Facebook page allowing fans to buy a special can of tomato soup emblazoned with the words 'Get Well Soon'). The famous Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup celebrated its 100th birthday last year and has reportedly sold over 8.2 billion cans since 1910, while Campbell’s classic variety (one of three bestsellers from the brand) was immortalised forever in Andy Warhol’s iconic ‘Soup Cans’ print in 1962.  

See the survey details and full results

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