Product Snapshot: Hansells' All Natural Soup

Written by Foodwatch on Wednesday, 24 September 2014.
Tagged: Product Snapshot, review, soup

Product Snapshot: Hansells' All Natural Soup

Guest post by Kathryn Hawkins (MDiet, APD,AN)

At the end of a long day there’s nothing more comforting than sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup. It really does seem to hit the spot! Hansells Food Group has released its new ‘All Natural Soup’ range with flavours from around the world. Packaged in rustic, wholesome-looking pouches and cups, with a panel across the front stating “100% Natural, no preservatives, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian” it certainly piqued my curiosity! So I decided to check them out for ease of preparation, nutritional profile and, of course, taste!

A range of flavours and methods

Hansells’ Soup range comes in three cooking methods:

  1. Fresh soup in a Pouch, which is a heat and eat type of soup, suitable for microwave or stovetop cooking. Available in Tortilla, Laksa, Miso, Wonton, Chicken and Corn, and Vegetable Tagine.
  2. Cup of Soup, where you simply add boiling water and stir. There are 4 flavours - Wonton, Tom Yum, Hot and Sour and Laksa.
  3. Hearty Soup Mix, which is dry and needs to be cooked up on the stove with water to create an Indian Dahl, Moroccan Chickpea or Tuscan Bean soup. These packets make 4 servings.

Flavours of the East

Hansells collage

Heat and serve

It was an aroma of Moroccan spices that teased my taste buds as I opened the Vegetable Tagine pouch of fresh soup on a wet, cold Sunday evening. The simple ‘heat and serve’ instructions meant that I had a meal in five minutes, and it did not disappoint! There where chickpeas, tomato chunks and raisins to give the soup a pleasing texture. The flavour was robust and rich, and because of this, I chose to have my soup with a dollop of natural yogurt.

Cup of soup

I had the cup of Laksa soup for my lunch the following day. After such a positive experience the previous evening I was expecting great things as I opened the cup, emptied the soup concentrate into the bottom of the cup, and filled it with boiling water.

The first thing I noticed, however, was the lack of a strong aroma and rich colour, and, although there was tofu and mushrooms in the soup, they seemed to sit on the bottom of the cup. Despite appearances, the soup did have a lovely fresh taste with a lemongrass kick, which I enjoyed. On reflection, the lack of strong aroma may be an advantage in a lunchtime office situation!

Hearty soup mix

From the ‘Hearty Soup mix’ range, I cooked up the Indian Dahl and I think it’s safe to say I saved the best for last! It took 20 minutes to simmer and filled the house with a truly lovely feeling of spicy warmth, without the overpowering odours of being in an Indian restaurant! The red lentil soup offered a creamy, nutty texture with enough bite to leave a tantalising aftertaste. The packet cooks enough for four serves and I can only imagine it reheats well, but I didn’t have any leftovers to find out!

Ingredients

  1. Ready to eat All Natural Soup – Vegetable tagine: onion, sweet potato, chickpeas, tomato, capsicum, rice bran oil, ginger, carrot, garlic, raisins, honey, spices, (cumin, chilli, black pepper and coriander), sugar, salt, vinegar, lime juice, tapioca starch.
  2. Cup of Soup – Laksa: coconut extract, tofu, enoki mushrooms, shallots, soybean oil, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, shrimp powder, red chilli, garlic, spices, ginger.
  3. Hearty Soup Mix – Indian Dahl: red lentils, vegetables (onion, green capsicum, red capsicum), spices, chickpea flour, salt, coconut sugar, garlic, mushroom extract, natural flavour, coriander leaf, food acid, spice extracts.

How it stacks up nutritionally

Hansells1 Pack ShotsOverall the two soups in pouches - Hearty Soup Mix and the All Natural soup - are a better choice. Per 100g, they have minimal saturated fat (0.2g and 0.3g respectively) and minimal sugar (2.6g and 3.1g respectively). Unfortunately both are very poor sources of fibre, and slightly high in sodium, which is to be expected in any packaged food. However, with 292mg and 290mg per 100g sodium they are not as bad as some soups on the market. A low salt food has to have less than 120mg per 100g but when looking at sodium in most packaged food try to aim for something under 400mg per 100g.

The Hearty Soup Mix is higher in protein with 5.0g per 100g, which would make it nutritionally superior when comparing the two products.

The Cup of All Natural Soup, Laksa flavour, contains 4.5g of saturated fat per 100g, which is more than double the Baker IDI and Heart Foundation recommendation of less than 2g of Saturated fat per 100g. It is also a poor source of protein and dietary fibre. Not the best choice for nutrition!

Overall pros

  • Quick, easy to prepare
  • Satisfies your hunger
  • Tasty
  • Low in sugar
  • Low GI
  • Preservative free
  • Gluten and Dairy free

Overall cons

  • Cup-a-soup is high in saturated fat
  • Low in fibre
  • High salt content (but could be worse!)

The bottom line

Overall the Indian Dahl from Hansells Foods was the most pleasant of the three. All the soups felt warming, nourishing and comforting to eat. However when balancing the considerations of taste, cooking time, ease of preparation, and nutrition, I would rate the All Natural Soup in the pouch (Vegetable Tagine flavour), the clear winner for me.

Guest post by Kathryn Hawkins (MDiet, APD,AN), wholefoods dietitian and freelance writer. Web: www.kathrynhawkinsnutrition.com