Description: “A Moorish tagine-style soup naturally thickened with chickpeas and couscous, finished with traditional spices and a hint of fruit. Glorious!” Again, their copywriters need to calm down.
Health: Not bad – about 390 calories for the pot, high fibre, low fat, but quite low protein too and reasonably high levels of sodium.
Taste: Bleh. I’m beginning to wonder if the addition of “-inspired” or “-style” to any description is an admission that they don’t really know how to spice the soup properly. This soup, whilst well-textured, is pretty bland and the absence of any proper spice or meat makes it a slightly tedious meal. In the interest of full disclosure I should confess that I gave up on it half way through and nabbed a passing sandwich from a lunch meeting I was in.
Full-o-meter: Not bad, was the impression I was getting before I lost interest…
Verdict: 2.5/5. Not getting the strongest impression of the MPW range…
Description: “A fragrant, lightly spiced chunky blend of vine ripen tomatoes, chickpeas, British chicken and red & green lentils.” Well, mostly right. It’s not lightly spiced, there’s about a metric tonne of cumin in there, but otherwise, about right.
Health: It’s OK – 390 calories for the 600g pot, v. low on sat fat (although reasonable about of actual fat), and obv. v. high on fibre.
Taste: Hrm. This isn’t the first “Moroccan chicken soup” I’ve tasted and IMHO this is inferior to both Pret & even Sainsbury’s attempts. Overkill on the spice front doesn’t make the soup spicy so much as heavy and sludgy and the tomato flavour is almost completely lost. That said, it’s “Moroccan style” and think it does serve as a kind of tribute; the consistency and textures (spicing notwithstanding) are otherwise OK and the chicken, chickpeas and lentils taste as you’d expect from M&S – good quality produce in action.
Full-o-meter: Very good. This is a heavy soup, it should keep you going.
Verdict: 3/5. Not bad, but simply not as tasty as other soups carrying a similar name. Won’t be high on my list to have again soon.
Description: From Eat: “Robust and packed full of flavour, chickpeas, butterbeans, red kidney beans, tomatoes and smoked paprika makes this soup a Mexican classic. Garnished with crème fraiche and Cheddar cheese.” From me: A heckuva lot of dem beans in a spicy tomato based soup, garnished with an insultingly small amount of cheddar cheese and a dollop of craime fresh.
Health: Pretty good – only 380 calories for a ‘very big’ bold. Good amount of fibre, as you’d expect with all those beans, but not huge on the protein front.
Taste: Pretty well spiced, the tomato soup base kicks a tasty punch. Not oversalted in the way some Eat soups are, it still manages to be reassuringly tasty. However… beans are beans, and 200g of chickpeas, kidney beans and butterbeans gets a bit monotnous. More cheddar might have helped thicken the (slightly watery) tomato soup base and add a bit more moreishness to the vat.
Full-o-meter: Pretty good. This is a BIG pot of soup and high in fibre.
Verdict: 3/5. It’s substantial, healthy, kind of tasty… but not quite rich or tasty enough to win a higher score. Meat definitely needed.
Hmm, new soup day! Excitement!
Description: From Eat: “A hearty and warming soup packed with chorizo, chickpeas and tomatoes with a hint of smoked paprika and red chilli. Garnished with flat leaf parsley.” Yep, about right!
Health: Big on most nutritional fronts – Big Bold was the biggest I allowed myself at 374 cals for the 16 oz portion. Salt also slightly off the charts but not too bad on other fronts.
Taste: It feels a bit unfair to score this against Pret when Eat has been a little cheap in winning the taste war by adding loads of salt. That said, it’s also much fuller of chorizo and chickpea than the Pret alternative (ok, so that had – a few – butterbeans instead of chickpeas) – but probably does win out on salty, spicy, tomato & sausagey goodness.
Full-o-meter: Good – I think. I’ve been a bit rubbish on the diet lately and got it with some rye bread. But the chickpea/fibre in it will make it work.
Verdict: 4.5/5. Definitely has an edge over the Pret alternative and definitely worth having again.