“ Brand: New Covent Garden / Type: Soups „
The temperatures have been dropping recently and it's that time of year again. Soup time. Actually, for me, it's soup time all year round but when the days draw darker and colder there is something very comforting about a steaming bowl of soup packed with root vegetables.
I normally make my own vegetable soup as it must be one of the simplest things to make but we have been very busy this last week or so and having something which can be ready quickly has been very welcome. Over the years since the brand was launched I have tried many lines in the New Covent Garden soup range - with varying degrees of success - but I am quite taken with the latest one I have tried.
~The company ~
The company started making fresh soups for sale in shops in 1987. The idea - novel at the time - was that they would make soups which were as good and fresh as those you would make at home but saving you the time and effort of cooking them yourself. The idea - contrary to my assertions at the time - took off and the brand is now something of a 'household name'.
~The Presentation ~
The rows of cardboard tetra-packs bearing the New Covent Garden logo and sporting a depiction of the main ingredients are now a very familiar sight in major supermarkets' chilled cabinets. This carton has a (nearly) white background with an image of one butternut squash and one sweet potato on the front. The product title is printed in black lettering on the front so it is quite easy to spot.
The rest of the carton is crammed with various pieces of information - nutritional values, how to store or freeze the soup, how to re-heat it and the various ways in which you can get in touch with the company.
It's easy enough to heat the soup, either in a saucepan for about five minutes or in the microwave for about seven minutes, including standing time. The advantage of heating the soup in a microwave is that it can be left in its own carton to warm, thus saving washing up. The disadvantage is that the heated and therefore slightly wobbly carton must be handled with great care to avoid being scalded by the hot soup.
~The aroma, texture and colour ~
I would describe the colour as an earthy golden shade with tiny red flecks of the chilli flakes.
The overpowering aroma comes from the parsnips, followed by a scent of softly cooked onions and then cumin and coriander.
The texture is velvety but not totally smooth. There is a slightly powdery feel from the potatoes and every now and now then just a hint of a more fibrous texture - likely from the sweet potato or the squash. Very small residual pieces of onion have managed to evade the blender too.
The flavour pretty much reflects the soup's smell. Parsnip dominates, onion gives body to the flavour and the warmth of the cumin and chilli and fragrance of the coriander shine through. The flavour has, for me, a perfect sweet/savoury balance with the immediate aftertaste being quite fresh, almost with a lactic bite which I assume comes from the addition of the mascarpone cheese. The peppery warmth soon emerges and lingers though it never overpowers.
I find it quite difficult to detect any flavour coming specifically from either the butternut squash or from the sweet potato. To me, both vegetables have a sweet but also very delicate flavour. It seems difficult for these subtle tastes to stand up to the equally sweet but far more robust flavour of the parsnip. I do think though, that the squash and the sweet potato must add something to the colour and texture of the finished product.
The scent, the colour, the texture and the flavour conspire to produce a soup with a truly home-made taste and appearance. Had I first tried this soup in a 'blind' tasting I would have accepted readily that it had been made in a home kitchen. It is well seasoned with pepper and spices but salt has been added with a light hand.
~Ingredients and nutritional notes ~
Water, butternut squash (18%), potatoes, onions, parsnips, cream, sweet potato (2%), wheat flour, butter, vegetable oil, mascarpone cheese, salt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, paprika, ground coriander, white pepper, red chilli flakes, turmeric.
Each 600g carton contains two servings and the nutritional value for each serving are:
192 kCal, 3.0g of protein, 20.7g of carbohydrate, 10.8g of fat, 3.0g of fibre and 1.5g salt.
The calorie count of this soup seems rather high when compared with vegetable soups in general, but with the addition of cream and mascarpone cheese I suppose we could expect little else! There is a lovely creaminess about this soup and I really do think it has benefited from the addition of these luxurious ingredients. (I have a fancy to make up a similar recipe myself and I'm wondering if crème fraiche would be a suitable alternative in order to give a healthier result and possibly an interesting extra degree of freshness.)
A warning is given to allergy sufferers that the soup contains milk, wheat and gluten. It also advises that it may contain nut traces. It is suitable for vegetarians.
~ Cost and Availability ~
The retail price for the 600g carton of soup is around £2. (But I'm sure you've already guessed that I didn't pay full price for mine - it was of course taken from Morrison's clearance shelf at the end of the day and set me back 35p!)
I think £2 is a bit steep given the ingredients used in this soup. Though butternut squash and sweet potatoes are not the cheapest of vegetables, they only constitute 18% and 2% of the soup, respectively. Potatoes and onions are far cheaper ingredients and even parsnips are not highly priced when they are in season. I will concede that cream and mascarpone cheese add to the cost of the product but I can't help but think that a large batch of a home-made version of this could be made for considerably less. I suppose the convenience - or in this case the combination of the freshness, the quality and the convenience is what the customer is paying for - not merely a pile of ingredients.
~ In summary ~
I would not hesitate to recommend this soup to anyone who likes an autumnal style root vegetable soup and especially one with a lovely richness and a spicy kick. I must add, though, that anyone who does not like the flavour and smell of parsnips is not going to be keen on this.
(NB This review may also appear on other sites under the same username.)
Those of my fellow Dooyooer's who have previously read about my love of all things chocolate may be surprised to hear that I am a huge fan of soup especially the New Covent Garden Food co.
~ Where to buy, availability and cost ~
These soups can be found in the refrigerator section of most supermarkets and I have never had a problem with obtaining them so they seems to be widely available. I brought mine from my local Tesco supermarket when they had an offer on (2 for £3), they are priced around £1.98 if purchased singularly.
~ The packaging ~
I like the packaging of this soup, I find it appealing and "healthy looking". I find it stands out and is a recognisable product on the shelves each cardboard rectangular container is the same with a different image and writing on each depending on the flavour.
I have heard some people say they find it hard to get into the container. Personally I get some good scissors and cut two slits at one end of the top of the packet and gently tear upwards thus making it easy to pout. For those of you who want to get every last drop I am afraid one may need a spoon to scrap, slight downfall but well worth it if you ask me.
~ Why do I like this range so much? ~
I love the fact that there is "all natural ingredients", it makes me feel healthy.
Although the cost is more than a tin of soup it consists of 600ml which is the perfect amount for two people with some bread or for two meals for myself, when considered like this I don't feel it is too bad.
It is a very fresh soup and all the soups in this range tastes delicious.
So far I have not found a range I prefer.
~ The ingredients ~
(all natural ingredients)
Water, butternut squash, potatoes, onions, parsnips, cream, sweet potato, wheat flour, butter, vegetable oil, mascarpone cheese, salt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, paprika, ground coriander, white pepper, red chilli flakes, turmeric.
~ Nutritional information ~
Per 300ml serving = 1/2 container
Calories - 192
Saturated fat - 4.5g
Sugar - 6.3g
Salt - 1.5g
This information is on the top of the container so is easily found at first glance and there is also more information on the side of the packet.
~ Taste ~
I can taste the sweet potato and the butternut squash. At the same time the chilli gives it a warming effect, I particularly like this in the winter as it warms me up.
I am a lover of chese but could not really taste the mascarpone, however this did not put me off.
It tastes fresh and homemade, very nice indeed.
~ My verdict ~
A winner for me.
Personally I would prefer it if the soup was a little thicker as it would make it feel a bit more substaincail then as a meal, but even still it can not really be faulted. I always eat my soup with some fresh thick crusted bread to bulk up the meal and make it more filling. Half a container is always enough for me, some people with large appetites may manage more.
If I was to want to make something quick for myself or a friend this would definitely be an option.
It smells delicious and is healthy and appealing at all times of the year.
I am rating this 5 dooyoo stars as I love it.
Thank you for reading my review, I hope it has been helpful.
This review is also featured on Ciao under my username laurajeantinks
New Covent Garden Spicy Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup
Description: Manufacturer: New Covent Garden / Type: Soups
Like so many of us, I managed to eat and drink far too much over the festive season, and as a result, am trying be healthy in order to lose a few pounds and also feel less sluggish. Unfortunately, I work shifts which sometimes means it is too easy to snack on junk food at odd hours of the day and night.
One of the easiest ways for me to avoid snacking is to try and make sure that I am eating three sensible meals each day which are filling enough to prevent me grazing later. I prefer to make my own soups but sometimes just don't have time and so I frequently buy New Covent Garden soups from the chilled section of my local supermarket as a quick and convenient lunch. These are possibly the best ready prepared soups that you can buy and there is a wide range of flavours so you are sure to find something that you like the sound of.
I really like the New Covent Garden soup range, though unfortunately, they are a little expensive at around £1.80 for a 600g carton. Supermarkets often have them on offer though and I managed to pick up a few recently for just £1 each. They usually have a decent shelf life (check carton for dates) and can usually be frozen so they are worth stocking up on while you can.
The soups come in cardboard cartons which are designed so they can stand up in the fridge and can be heated on a hob or warmed in the microwave for around two minutes (stir halfway through heating)
This soup is very thick and a creamy golden colour which looks very appealing. The sweetness of the sweet potato and butternut squash goes really well with the chilli and cayenne pepper which gives it a slightly spicy hint which works really well.
For me, this is a deliciously subtle soup that has a lovely balance of sweetness, creaminess and a slight kick from the chilli. Sweet potato is one of my favourite vegetables and this soup does it justice, making each mouthful a tasty and warming lunch with the mascarpone cheese giving it a creamy flavour which is great. I had some fresh tiger bread with mine, which complemented it perfectly and found that half the carton was just the right amount to leave me feeling full and satisfied.
This is possibly one of my favourite flavours from the range and I highly recommend that you try it and see what you think, I am sure that you will like it as much as I did!
Ingredients are as follows;
Water, butternut squash (18%), potatoes, onions, parsnips, cream, sweet potato (2%), wheat flour, butter, vegetable oil, mascarpone cheese, salt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, paprika, ground corriander, white pepper, red chilli flakes, turmeric.
Covent Garden Spicy Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup
WHERE CAN I BUY THIS SOUP?
Covent Garden fresh soups are in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets. In this cardboard box type of container you will find a generous 600ml of soup which gives a good portion to each of two people. It is suitable for vegetarians as it has not 'carnivorous' ingredients at all as I poured it from the carton it was nice to see a lovely creamy golden soup flowing into my saucepan.
WHY BUY THIS WHEN YOU COULD MAKE YOUR OWN?
I do make my own soups regularly as they are cheap, easy to make and are really healthy and good for you however there are times when I need to have a meal more quickly than I can produce from scratch. Today we have been out to sort out a few things and picked up a couple of these soups from Tesco as they were 2 for £3 which I felt was an okay price. They are near to £2 each at full price.
I had been disappointed by the haddock chowder soup in this range that I bought so carefully selected two soups I thought might have a bit of flavour. This was one and the Bengal Lancers reviewed earlier was the other.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THIS CARDBOARD BOX IN ORDER TO ENJOY?
The box is extremely difficult to open and you have to open both sides at the top and then pour it in to the pan. Once in a saucepan heat as usual or you could pour it into a bowl and heat in the microwave .I did find the soup was hard to get out of the box, it all stuck to the sides and I had to get a spoons and scrape it out and it took a few scrapes to get it all out.
It is essential that the soup is heated to piping hot rather than just warmed as this will ensure that the food is heated to the heat to kill any dangerous bacteria that may be lurking. Personally I prefer to use a saucepan and heat thoroughly while stirring towards the end as I want to really ensure that my food is properly heated through. It also says on the pack that once you have heated it once that it should not be reheated .If opened then use within a couple of days.l
Once heated then serve in bowls with bread, toast or bread rolls as preferred for a tasty, filling and healthy meal.
HOW DOES IT TASTE?
While it was heating I stirred it to save it sticking and then poured out the piping hot, light creamy golden coloured soup into two bowls. It tasted pretty okay, mildly spicy and very creamy and you could taste the sweet potato and butternut squash sweetness with the paprika and chilli hotness as a hint in your mouth. I have to say the mascarpone cheese was well hidden but maybe it just added to the creaminess. The ingredients are all natural and include nothing that I would not happily put in my own homemade soups ;water, butternut squash , potatoes, onions, parsnips, cream, sweet potato , wheat flour, butter, vegetable oil, mascarpone cheese, salt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, paprika, ground coriander, white pepper, red chilli flakes, turmeric.
This was one of their better soups and I would buy this again on special but not at £2 I think.
IS THERE ANYTHING I NEED TO BE AWARE OF?
There is 10.8g Fat, 4.5g Saturated fat, 6.3g sugar and 1.5g salt which they claim is low for all of those ingredients. There are only 192 calories in the whole box of soup.
There are no unnatural ingredients, everything in Covent Garden soups is fresh and as you would find in a kitchen to make your own which I do like. This is one of their vegetarian range as it contains no meat but does have the dairy stuff so not for those with milk or dairy allergies.
I quite enjoyed this soup but would not say it is the tastiest I have had. This is one of their tastier soups and the Bengal Lancers one is good too but I still much prefer the Tesco Finest range which come in a plastic pot and is usually cheaper than this brand too.
This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.