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It's strange really, I know Heinz do sauce, I know they do soup and I know they do beans. Yet I don't often think of them as the same brand. I suppose the only reason I can think of is of the different packaging, blue for beans, red for soup. These are the three products this brand is known for and is considered top of its field. Heinz celebrated one hundred years of making its classic tomato soup last year and producing 1,600 cans a minute it is clearly the nations favourite. Soup wise, I haven't bought Heinz or in fact any soup for a while. I've gone off shop soup preferring homemade soup for the thickness and flavour. However looking for something I could keep to take to work I came across this new type of soup which seemed to encompass both the taste of homemade and the convenience of shop bought. Heinz Farmers Markets soups are one of six in their range and this particular flavour Plum Tomato & Basil Soup with Crème Fraiche is one of eight. The other flavours are: * Broccoli + Stilton Soup * Carrot & Coriander soup with Crème Fraiche * Chicken & Country Vegetable Soup * Creamy Mushroom Soup * Potato, Leek + Thyme Soup * Slow Cooked Lamb with Root Vegetable Soup * Three Bean + Smoked Bacon Soup Looking at the list they are all soups that are not traditionally bought in a tin and are made at home perhaps with leftovers. The idea is that they create simple soups inspired by Farmers Markets using quality ingredients. Though I think the idea of Farmers Markets is using locally sourced produce however these soups are made using products from abroad as well as the UK! The packaging is traditionally Heinz with the product written on the black board but because of the name and the chalk like writing it reminds of how you would see fruit and vegetables priced in little shops on a chalk board. The background is of lots of ripe tomatoes and a bowl of the actual soup is in the foreground. Each tin is approx 515g and it slightly taller than the average tin. For some reason though I find that this still doesn't give me enough for two portions. I get one good portion for a meal and a second portion which does as supper. Each 100g contains 48 calories, is low in fat and suitable for vegetarians. Something that I was surprised to read was that is free from artificial preservatives, colours and flavours. I assumed that because it was in a tin, it would contain these. The ingredients list is similarly surprising and contains what you would think comprises a tomato based soup. Often in products there is a whole list of random ingredients! Water, Plum Tomatoes (19%), Tomatoes (19%), Onions, Concentrated Tomato Puree, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Crème Fraiche (2%, contains Milk), Modified Cornflour, Basil, Salt, Black Pepper, Herbs, Concentrated Lemon Juice Heating this up in the microwaves takes just under 4 minutes altogether. Taking it out though there was a gold gleam on the surface, similar but different to when fat rises to the surface. As far as I am aware this didn't affect the taste, it just looked odd. It could have been due to our very powerful microwave though, as the second portion in a normal microwave did not do this. This was priced at 98p in Asda or two for £1.50. At the former I would not buy it but on offer I did along with the chicken and country vegetable. I think that is one of those offers that is often on so next time I see it I shall stock up as it is handy to have. Popular in France crème fraiche is often used in soups and sauces for its lighter taste and being longer lasting and here it helps thicken the soup. The soup is darker that your standard tomato soup, looking much richer and natural with lots of chopped up basil on top. It is thick and lumpy with bits of onion and tomato with the skin present. That paints an odd picture but really it is just like when you blend your homemade soups and small bits remain. They actually add to the soup and prevent it being too thin. The taste is lovely, the plum tomatoes really come through and the basil makes it perfect. It is stronger tasting than normal tomato soup but it a more natural flavour. It goes down well with a piece of bread. I love this soup and was really surprised to find it in a tin. Perhaps it is just a stereotype, but a soup like this I would expect to find in a tub or carton and not in a tin. This looks and tastes very similar to when I make my own tomato soup but for the convenience I shall be repurchasing!
A colleague of mine who recently moved from my office gifted me a tin of this as he left and so as a tribute to him I wolfed it down for lunch that day. I never normally give consideration to the Farmers' Market selection, tending to stick with Heinz standard range and so I am not too familiar with the different varieties on offer. I have tried and reviewed Heinz's standard Tomato and Basil Soup and gave it four stars (not giving it five as I had awarded Baxter's version that amount and it was slightly better) so I was hopeful I would be equally as positive about this one. Packaging The soup comes in 515g tin which is quite a bit larger than the standard 400g you get with the "normal" Heinz soups. The tin has a ring pull lid which did not require much effort to open and the tin itself is recyclable steel. The label itself is very different to the normal distinctive label you get with Heinz soups which are typically red in colour. This label is a lot brighter with images of fruit and vegetables covering it with the product information pasted over them. The front of this particular label shows, as always, a bowl of the deep red soup sitting in a bright white bowl. The soup looks particularly thick with basil and herbs peppered sparingly around the top. Surrounding the bowl there a large number of juicy plum tomatoes with sprigs of lush green basil poking out amongst them. In the background and on the rear of the label there is what looks like cauliflower and broccoli. The front of the label states that the product is "Inspired by Farmer's Markets" and with the variety of the fruit and vegetables pictured, you really can imagine yourself walking around a market picking the finest ingredients for your cooking. Unlike other Heinz soups this one does not contain any nutritional information on the front. The rear of the label gives you the usual information you find including: 1) The ingredients, the ones being of note - plum tomatoes (21%), tomatoes (20%), onions, concentrated tomato puree, crème freche (2% and contains milk), sugar, basil, herbs and concentrated lemon juice. This soup contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and is suitable for vegetarians. 2)The nutritional information which states per half can there are 126 calories, 17.g protein, 14.2g carbohydrates of which 11.3g sugars, 6.9g fat of which 0.5g saturates, 1.7g fibre and 0.5g sodium with the salt equivalent being 1.3g. I normally give this information for the whole soup but as this one is slightly larger, I do think half of the tin could easily constitute one serving. With there not being too much crème freche in the probuct, this helps to keep the calories and the fat, particularly the saturated fat, content down to a reasonable level. The rear of the label does advertise that the product is low fat and it surprises me somewhat that they do not highlight this fact on the front. 3) Heating instructions - given that there is more to this product than the standard range, heating takes slightly longer. In a microwave (850W) I found this soup to be nice and hot after a little over four minutes having stirred it halfway through. If using a hob remember to heat gently and not to boil and although I haven't used this method, I would imagine it would be good to go in around 6-7 minutes. First impressions of the soup On opening the tin I was consciously looking for the aroma of basil that you get with other tomato and basil soups but I found it to be lacking. For me this is not necessarily a negative as I sometimes find that particular flavour to be a little overpowering and prefer to just have a hint of it so I was not put off at this stage. After pouring the contents into a bowl my first thought was that it was a little like pouring out a tin of chopped tomatoes and I wondered if this was something I would have to chew my way through rather than just swallow like other tomato soups. I did however like the nice large chunks of tomato that could be seen that still looked juicy and tempting. There was also, despite the lack of any aroma, some larger pieces of basil sitting in the soup which gave added to the appearance. Taste After having heated the soup which, as is often the case, greatly improved the smell of the soup with there now being a nice rich tomatoey smell (the basil still not quite there), the first thought I had on tasting was how sweet it was. This is obviously to be expected with having such a high content of tomatoes and I do wonder if it was necessary to add sugar but there are obviously people paid good money to make those decisions. Despite the large pieces of basil I did not feel that I really got much from them only the slightest hint. For me this was not a negative but if you were looking for that from this soup I think you would be disappointed. I also don't feel as though I got anything from the crème freche that is added to it, if I did I could not distinguish it compared to the sweetness of the tomatoes. The consistency of the soup was like I expected and was like eating finely mashed tomatoes. I think that having had so many tins of the incredibly smooth Heinz Tomato soup it just felt a little strange to be having to chew some pieces rather than literally drink it! The consistency for me is again not a negative it just was a little different. As I got towards the end of the bowl, I was a little glad I was doing so. The flavour remains constant throughout so in not getting anything from the basil, the other herbs and the crème freche, you are left with a rather large bowl of rather sweet tomato soup. After a while I just found that I'd had enough of eating it and not because there was too much there. If I'm honest I won't be buying this product again but I also wouldn't turn it down if someone else gave it me as they left the office! In my opinion it wouldn't win awards for appearance, consistency or taste but on the same note it wasn't too bad. In comparison to the other tomato and basil soups, this one can only really get three stars. Whilst I didn't buy this, having had a quick look online the price in the main supermarkets is around £1.04.