Soup is one of my favourite winter meals. Thick and hearty, it's warming and satisfying. It's a key food if you want to lose some weight without going hungry. Soups are pretty easy to make (unlike pastry or fiddly finger food) but, depending on the type, can take 2 or 3 hours, as they often require long, slow simmering.
Homemade vs commercial
Of course we normally think that the best soups are home-made but recently I tried out and, to my surprise liked, a commercial soup base. The Heinz Create-a-Soup Soup Base cut the cooking time by half AND tasted very nice - sort of homely and comforting. If you want to try cooking some soups from scratch, try my Homemade Vegetable Soup or my Chicken Stock recipes.
No "salt hit"
I was expecting the usual "salt hit" as most stocks and packet soups are pretty high in salt or sodium. But here's the surprise. It was way low in sodium - only 115 milligrams per 100g which is equivalent to 270mg per 250 ml mug, as much as you'd get if you ate two slices of bread. At this level, it qualifies as a ‘low-salt' food although there's nothing on the label to suggest this. *
"I bet it tasted low in salt", I can hear you say (by which you mean bland and tasteless). Well, I didn't think it was too bad though my 21-year old male "taste tester" son gave it the thumbs down without knowing why (didn't realise it was low in salt).
"Soup" it up!
If you try this product out and find it a little too bland for your taste, you can always add a pinch of salt yourself but once it's in there, you can't take it out! Alternatively you can let your palate get used to the drop in salt and boost the flavour with onion or garlic. I added a chopped onion at the start, even though the instructions didn't say to, and you could also add chopped fresh dill or fresh parsley if you wanted.
Give the man meat?
The male "taste tester" craved some meat to give it some "oomph". The pack did say you could add chicken which would have cast it as a "hearty soup" rather than a vegetable one and you could have added a splash of cream as well to round it off.
How it this Heinz Soup base works
1. You dice a potato, along with celery and carrot (plus the onion). I also threw in pumpkin as I had some spare.
2. You cook them in a little oil to 2-3 minutes, stirring so they don't stick, then pop in the base.
3. It looks like soft pureed pumpkin. Top up with water, simmer, throw in frozen peas. That's it.
Sure I could have made this myself with mashed pumpkin, stock and an extra 30 minutes which I didn't have, so this was a good time saver.
8/10 (Me) and 5/10 (the 21-year-old male)
9/10 (it's also low fat - providing you leave out the splash of cream - no preservatives, high fibre)
Cooks in under 20 minutes. The pack needs no refrigeration. Good for beginners.
* Heinz's Minestrone variant of Create-a-Soup is not as low in salt. It has twice as much salt - 280mg per 100g which becomes 700mg per 250ml mug.
Downloads / Fact Sheets
Read one of my best articles - why a bowl of soup has emerged as a fat-fighting food. Given soup's high water and fibre content, it's not surprising that soup has a high satiety (satisfaction value) yet is low in kilojoule-density. This means it only packs in few kilojoules/calories into a given volume. Interesting!