Illustration: Chris Philpot

You head to the supermarket to pick up some chicken broth to use in a recipe, but once you're standing in the soup aisle, you're stumped. There are so many options—broth, bone broth, stock, not to mention low-sodium and organic. What's the difference and which should you choose? 

Both stock and broth can be made from a mix of chicken meat and bones (along with vegetables and seasonings), but stock and bone broth usually use more bones, and regular broth uses more meat, says Amy Keating, R.D., a CR nutritionist.

The more bones used, the higher the protein content, which comes from collagen in the bones that’s released during cooking; this slightly boosts calories, too.

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Stock tends to have less sodium than broth because it’s often used as a base in recipes that call for added seasoning. A product that says “low sodium” means it has 140 mg or less of sodium per serving, and “lower” or “reduced” sodium means it has at least 25 percent less sodium compared with the brand’s regular product.

To help you choose, CR’s food testing team assessed the nutrition and taste of six choices from Swanson, listed from highest sodium to lowest.

Note: For all of the broths below, the serving size is 1 cup. They have no fat and 1 gram or less of carbohydrates per cup.

Swanson Chicken Broth

Calories: 15
Protein: 1 g
Sodium: 860 mg

The most heavily seasoned and saltiest in our tests. Chicken bouillon-like flavor, with onion, celery, and other seasonings. CR says: Skip. 

Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken Broth 33% Less Sodium

Calories: 15
Protein: 2 g
Sodium: 570 mg

Well-seasoned broth with moderate chicken and salty flavors. Better flavor than Swanson’s regular broth (above) but still relatively high in sodium. CR says: Pick.

Swanson Organic Broth Free-Range Chicken

Calories: 15
Protein: 1 g
Sodium: 550 mg

Moderate chicken flavor and mild seasonings. Moderately salty. Organic, so it's made with no-antibiotic chicken. CR says: Pick.

Swanson Cooking Stock, Chicken

Calories: 20
Protein: 4 g
Sodium: 510 mg

Bigger, more natural chicken flavor compared with Swanson's regular chicken broth with 350 mg less sodium per cup. Has some roasted notes, moderate salt, and slight vegetable and herb flavors. Slightly viscous. CR says: Pick.

Swanson Chicken Bone Broth

Calories: 35
Protein: 8 g
Sodium: 350 mg

Rich roasted flavors of chicken and vegetables. Mild seasoning, slightly salty, slightly viscous. Made with no-antibiotic chicken. CR says: Pick.

Swanson Organic Low Sodium Free-Range Chicken Broth

Calories: 10
Protein: 1 g
Sodium: 140 mg

Healthy but bland watered-down broth with little seasoning or salt flavor. Plus: It’s organic, so it’s made with no-antibiotic chicken. CR says: Skip.

Best Slow Cookers

In the mood for soup? Try cooking with one of these top-performing slow cookers from CR's tests.

Quick Take

Crock-Pot Cook & Carry SCCPVS600ECP-S

Price: $100

Unlock Slow Cooker Ratings
Quick Take

Crock-Pot Thermoshield SCCPCT600-B

Price: $70

Unlock Slow Cooker Ratings
Quick Take

Calphalon Digital Sauté SCCLD1

Price: $120

Unlock Slow Cooker Ratings

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the March 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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