Tag Archives: soup

Heinz Beef Broth Big Soup review

InstagramCapture_b162a8c7-be01-4f69-9d37-5bca87a620f7Description: Not ones to overstate things, Heinz simply says this is “Beef, barley and vegetable broth”  on the can. I concur.

Health: 180 calories for the can. Nutritionally relatively insubstantial – low protein and fibre scores, low in fat (it’s only 7% beef, so…), but pretty high on the salt front – 2.2g for the can. So, y’know, points down.

Taste: Like beefy, barley, stocky, salty, utterly generic soup. But it’s not insubstantial thanks to the chunky veg (which gives Heinz ‘big’ soup its name), and the barley gives it a good depth and texture. You have to play ‘Where’s Wally’ to find the beef.

Full-o-meter: As you can see from the pic, requires supplemental toast. So, y’know, not great, but thanks to low calorie count of the soup itself, this is acceptable.

Make it yourself?: Clearly home-made soup would be better, but this stuff was quick and convenient and would outlive a nuclear winter, so hey, points for that. It’s a heck of a lot more substantial than your average “tin o tomato” soup, or even the Oxtail soup I used to love when I was a kid.

Verdict: 3/5 on the tinned soup scale. This is *not* comparable to the scale I use for my other soup reviews! Fresh soup clearly is in a totally different league, but I’d pick it out of a line up of tinned soups. Not for a crime, obviously, but… y’know what I mean.

Public commitment – soup reviews. Today’s edition: Pret Italian Meatballs, revisited

I was in a session led by a workplace psychologist this morning and did a self-assessment on how ‘stressed’ I am in different aspects of my life. Thanks to my compulsive running I scored pretty well on the exercise front, but I’ve been eating chips and biscuits lately so, y’know, not so well on the healthy eating front. So, in front of all my colleagues, when asked what I was doing to do about it, I said I’d start doing soup reviews again. It means (obvs) switching to soups for lunch which was a core part of my diet regimen way back when.

11081136_10155359190275224_1636800473120125993_nSo you have that to look forward to! Today’s soup, bought as a late lunch after a morning of meetings, was Pret’s Italian Metball soup. I gave it a fairly paltry 2/5 when I first reviewed it five years ago (!!), but whether it’s age, or the recipe has changed, I actually quite enjoyed today’s. Compared to the ‘watery ragu’ I experienced in 2010, today’s soup felt richer and more flavoursome, and certainly more filling. Though the primary flavouring is salt, there’s a hint of sage and thyme (I think) in there and the meatballs are a bit more sturdy than they were then. At least a 3.5/5 by my ranking system of old.

Anyway, as it’s a ‘repeat’ I won’t do a full review, but you have my commitment: more will follow.

Tomorrow: I will eat a can of Heinz soup for lunch. Watch this space.

Eat Summer/Winter bolognaise soup review – Very Big Bold @eat_news

Wow, it’s been a while since I did one of these. Sorry – the diet has lapsed. It’s back now!

Eat Summer Blogonaise soupDescription: From Eat website: “Minced beef in a chunky tomato, garlic, oregano, red chilli and fresh basil sauce with Gnocco Sardo pasta. Garnished with Gremolata (Fresh Parsley and Lemon Zest).” No arguments.

Health: 364 calories, for the super-sized edition. Awesome on most counts but ludicrous on salt (3.1g salt, 1.3g of sodium, just over half your daily allowance), not massively high on fibre. Fat and saturated fat levels satisfyingly low for the immense portion.

Taste: Not a vast world away from the old Eat Italian Ragu and Pasta soup, which I liked a lot, but slightly lower on calories and without the nice cheesey top, which is substituted with a satisfying spice from the red chilli and a fresh, zingy crunch from the gremolata – occasionally with a bit too much parsley stalk for my liking. Although I do now know what gremolata is, which is awesome. But it’s pretty much what you’d expect; a zingy, tasty, sweet-but-savoury combo. The pasta shells, as I experienced when I tried to make a variant on this soup at home, do get a bit soggy from the long simmering the soups must get. Not sure it’s as good as rice as a carb staple for soup.

Full-o-meter: Pretty good short term, although imagine the low fibre score will mean the full feeling will wear off sooner rather than later.

Make it yourself?: Totally doable. I’d fry up some onion and chilli in oil, throw in the mince beef to brown, add diced carrots, salt, pepper, oregano, basil and chopped tomatoes, stew for a while before adding veg stock and rice/pasta to taste, and the gremolata stuff. Easy-peasy.

Verdict: 4/5. Recommended, if not inspired like their pot-pie soups, and without the cheesey top its not as moreish IMHO as the old IT&P soup.

Tesco Finest Chicken Mulligatawny Soup review

Trying out a new, improved soup review format. Hope you like!

Description: “Chunky and filling, made with lentils and rice, fragrant Indian spices and enriched with coconut.” Pretty bang on, Mr Tesco food copy-writer. Spicier than you’d expect, and chunky like a boss, as you might be able to tell from the picture.

About: Mulligatawny is a colonial soup, derived from a Tamil soup – the word literally translates to “Pepper water”, according to Wikipedia, based on some of the original constituents. Since then, it’s evolved to mean different things to different people – the Americans often make it with cooked apple, for example – but the essence of a curried soup with lentils seems to be at its core.

Health: Not great – 480 calories for the 600g tub, including 24g of fat (9.8g of saturated fat!), but good amounts of protein and fibre.

Taste: Spicy, chunky, chock full of well-cooked lentils, tender, fibrous chicken, and full of flavour. Absolutely delicious – as good as or better than Waitrose’s Keralan Chicken soup.

Full-o-meter: This fills you up. Combination of lots of fibre and protein with the coconut cream in this makes it a substantial soup indeed. But then, for the calories, you’d expect it.

Make it yourself?: Doesn’t look too bad, although I struggled to find a recipe that matched the Tesco pot. This guy’s looks OK, although cut the apples and nutmeg, and this one on the BBC looks OK.

Verdict: 4/5. A whole point knocked off due to healthiness concerns, otherwise it would score full points.

Eat Mexican chicken chilli soup review – Big Bold @eat_news

Description: “A spicy Mexican chicken soup with haricot, cannellini and butter beans. We add jalapeno chillies and lime to keep it authentic. Garnished with a freshly made tomato and coriander salsa. Dairy / Spicy.”

Health: 360 calories for big (16oz) portion . Highish on fibre, highish on fat, high on sodium. On balance it’s not bad, but not one of their best.

Taste: Wow. It’s got a creamy, spicy kick – which feels like a contradiction in terms. The chunks of chicken are meaty and a delight, the beans are well-cooked and add great depth and texture, and the coriander in the garnish explodes in your mouth. Wonderful.

Full-o-meter: I think it’ll be reasonable, but I missed breakfast this morning so had to have a 180 calorie roll as a supporting act. Pretty full with the bread.

Verdict: 4.5/5. A strong contender. I’d recommend this unhesitatingly.

Eat Steak and Ale pot pie soup review – Big Bold @eat_news

Sorry I’ve gone so long without a review. I’d pretty much tasted all the current line-up of Pret and Eat soups but – with Autumn here – there are some new ones on my radar! My office has also moved further away from Eat so it’ll take more willpower for me to make it over there… was today’s expedition worth it? Read on and you’ll see!

Spoon standing up in Eat's Steak & Ale Pot PieDescription: “A slant on a classic steak and ale pie, loads of beef in a rich hearty soup with a hint of Dorset Bitter Ale. Garnished with a puff pastry lid. non dairy / meat / pastry contains wheat.” Rich and hearty is right. The spoon stands up in this.

Health: 388 calories, high on protein, low on fat (but also low on fibre). Pretty good on the sodium stakes at 800mg for Eat – impressive. All in all, a good score!

Taste: Steaktastic. Seriously, this thing is chock-full of meat and stewed just enough to give it a lovely fibrous meaty texture but not so much that the meat dissolves. The veg is fresh, hearty and the overall impression is a bite of pie with every mouthful. The slight bitterness of the ale is evident, but not overpowering. All in all, awesome.

Full-o-meter: My diet’s flagged dramatically in recent weeks so suspect this will have me hungry mid-afternoon, but its certainly up from the chicken pot pie, and the ample quantity of meat and overall chunkiness of the soup earns it a high score here.

Verdict: 5/5. A new favourite, and a bonus that its more stew than soup. Worth the longer walk to Eat.

Eat Ham, Pea & Mint soup review – Very Big Bold @eat_news

Description: “A simple hearty soup with shredded Wiltshire cured ham, carrots and potatoes with a hint of mint. Less than 5% fat / non-dairy / pork.” Definitely not as green as other pea & ham soups, potato and stock are the dominant colours / flavours in this winter warmer.

Health: Not bad. 480 calories for the 32oz pot, 38g of protein, 12.4g of fat (pretty low!), and a not-awful 8g of fibre. More here.

Taste: Stocky, potatoey, and with enough chunks of ham and pea to be interesting texturally. The ‘hint of mint’ is pretty subtle (no bad thing), but I’m a bit disappointed at the sparseness of peas. It seems more of a garnish than a fundamental component of the soup.

Full-o-meter: OK. It’s a BIG pot. More peas might have contributed more fibre and helped it out a bit more here.

Verdict: 3/5. I’d probably have it again but Pret would have to be having one of its uninspired days. The ham is delicious but ham, carrot and potato soup doesn’t quite do it for me.

Eat Mexican Chicken Tortilla soup review – Big Bold @eat_news

Description: Chunky chicken and tomato soup with Mexican-style seasoning topped with tortillas and cheddar cheese.

Health: OK, ish – at 408 calories for the big bold it’s a modest lunchtime portion and has a good amount of fibre. However, it is a tad high on the fat front, ditto sodium.

Taste: A little taste of Mexico. It’s OK, tomato is the dominating flavour and texture and so its not massively exciting, but there is a good amount of chunky chicken in there and a tasty tortilla topping (which would be better when crisp – they sog up fast). Fundamentally under-spiced though…

Full-o-meter: Not bad. Fibre and protein/fat content should keep me going.

Verdict: 3.5/5. A good soup, I’d have again, but there’s room to refine this one, Eat.

Waitrose pea and ham soup review

Description: “A thick and comforting soup made with British peas, smoked ham, celery and a squeeze of lemon juice.” Yep, exactly what it says, although the microwave had this baby so hot the viscosity was probably a little off.

Health: Low cal – 222 calories for a 600g pot. Reasonable on all other scores, good on fibre, could have more protein…

Taste: Pretty good pea & ham soup. Standard. I must admit that I decided to spice it up with my new favourite condiment (Nando’s hot Peri-Peri sauce), not because it needed it – perfectly tasty as pea and ham soup – just that after the initial tasting I decided I wanted a little more kick to my lunch.

Full-o-meter: Not bad. Thanks to hot sauce have drunk two pints of water with lunch so feeling quite full right now. Eaten with two slices of medium sliced wholemeal toast.

Verdict: 4/5. Would have done better if it was a bit more interesting (it’s perfectly tasty, just standard) – but it is nonetheless a solid soup offering from those lovely Waitrose people.

Pret Sag Aloo soup review

Description: From Pret website: “Potato, onion, spinach, yoghurt, tomato, celery, ginger, organic vegetable bouillion, curry powder, nutmeg and red chilli.” A thick, warming soup of mildly curried potato and spinach.

Health: 248 calories for the pack, low on protein, surprisingly high on fat (was clarified butter an undeclared ingredient?), pretty low on fibre. So good on calorie count, basically, and mediocre on actual nutritional value.

Taste: Nice. A low-level of spice (high street food can be *so* conservative with chilli) could have used some pepping up but there was a smooth, nicely textured consistency to the mild curried soup, the spinach was tasty and substantial… but I’m still opposed to potato as the sole substance in a soup. Lentils would have made this a lot more substantial…

Full-o-meter: Rubbish. Even with the artisan bread (175 cals extra) I was wanting more.

Verdict: 3.5/5. It’s not bad, but more fibre and more spice would have earned it a higher score.