“ Brand: Sainsbury's / Type: Soups „
Last year I had jaw surgery and had to have a liquid diet for six weeks followed by soft food until my jaw had healed. I therefore got through a large amount of soup in this time and when I went out to friends' houses or needed a quick meal in the night before taking pain killers I often used cup-a-soups. The small sachets they come in are handy to keep in your bag they are also quick and easy to make.
One of the cup-a-soups that I purchased was the Sainsbury's own chicken and vegetable flavour with croutons. These came in a box of 4 soups each individually wrapped in foil lined sachets. They cost just £0.69 per box which I thought was pretty good value.
The soups also come in the following flavours:
- Chicken & Leek
- Chicken Noodle
- Tomato & Vegetable
- Spicy Lentil
To make the soups you simply tear open the sachet and pour the power into a mug. Then fill with boiling water and stir until all of the powder has dissolved. The soup does thicken a little which makes it feel a little more filling when you drink it.
This soup was very easy to make and the powered soup dissolved easily. The soup is a cream colour and the bits of vegetables and croutons it contains float to the top. I always use my spoon to scoop the croutons out first as I find that if you do not eat them quickly that they go a little soggy. Although I drank these cup-a-soups and found them pleasant they were not as tasty as some I had tried. They seemed a little watery and slightly lacking in flavour. The best bit of them was most certainly the croutons as they were lovely and crunchy, it's just a shame the soup itself was not as tasty. So until I see a 'new improved recipe' on these boxes then I will not be purchasing them again.
I tried the pea and mint cup a soup on the recommendation of a "friend" but honestly, the taste wasn't nice.
I didn't like this at all. At first it tasted like boiling hot water with very little flavour to whet my taste buds with. It's not a bad soup though, but the flavour doesn't agree with me.
After the first three mouth fulls though the taste then switched to pea. A very strong pea flavour with very little hint of mint. In fact, I can't remember actually tasting any mint.
I'm so disappointed with my Sainsbury's pea & mint soup. Not my best choice though as I don't like peas. Or mint.
Other flavour I have tried have hit to spot though. My favourite so far is sweet chilli chicken. A wonderful array of spicy and creamey mouth fulls.
Overall, I would strongly recommend these cup a soups to anyone.
Now, it's been a while since my student days, but I still remember the rules. Cup a soup (tsk, soup in a cup, whatever) on its own: snack. Cup a soup with toast: nutritious and delicious meal. Normally I don't eat stuff like this, but my friend Paula recently invited me to her house for dinner and drinks, and whilst I knew she could provide substantial amounts of alcohol (she is, after all, Irish) I didn't trust her to feed me, so I thought I'd better have something mid-afternoon to soak up the booze. That may sound a wee bit harsh, but don't feel too sorry for her. This is the girl who thought the optimum way to cook sweetcorn was to place the unopened tin in the oven for an hour at 180 degrees. We survived. The oven and the sweetcorn did not. And she's ginger. This probably has no bearing on her culinary abilities, but you never know.
Anyway, the soup in a cup I had came from a box that had been lurking in the cupboard for ages. As the name suggests, it's a similar product to the more famous 'Cup A Soup' by Batchelors, but Sainsbury's have managed to suggest it's an entirely different thing altogether by craftily changing the words around a wee bit. Top marks there, Sainsbury's. Also, full points for not allowing Jamie 'most annoying Cockney ever' Oliver to appear, gurning like a simpleton, on the front of the packet. My variety is chicken and vegetable, with a few croutons thrown in for good measure to make it a really substantial eating experience. It's in a green box with a picture of some soup in a cup on the front, so you won't be fooled into thinking it's a toaster. You get 4 sachets of soup, which is bloody good value for 79p. A student could live off this little box for at least 2 days. Actually, a quick look at the ingredients will tell you that it's not that generous really. The first ingredient is modified potato starch, followed by creamer (mmm, lovely). Ingredients that I actually recognise don't appear until the very bottom of the list, and even then it's 'chicken powder'. For those of you brought out in a rash by certain foodstuffs, there's milk, wheat and gluten in it. There's very little fat though, so that's one good thing.
However, if you're the type of person to be upset by that largely chemical based ingredients list, you're probably not going to be buying these anyway, so we'll move on. No doubt the non-brain dead amongst you will be well aware of how to make cup a soup, but I'll give you a quick run through the process, just in case. Tip the tasty cup a soup powder into a cup (didn't see that one coming, did you?). Next pour some boiling water on top and stir the bejesus out of it with a fork or spoon (the choice is up to you, but a fork makes it pleasingly bubbly). Once you have stirred to the point of exhaustion, the yummy soup will be drinkable. A few points to note; 1) there is a sixty second window during which the croutons are edible. Try and eat them too soon and they will be rock hard and possibly do some damage to your fillings. Hesitate too long however, and they will disintegrate into mush as soon as you touch them. 2) It doesn't matter how much effort you put into stirring, you will still be left with a horrid gunge at the bottom. Do not eat the gunge. A mate of mine at University used to save his toast to dip into the gunge, but that's just a bit wrong and dirty, frankly. 3) There will always be bits of unidentifiable vegetable floating around at the top.
It tastes a bit salty but really quite nice, surprisingly. Probably because all the chemicals have deadened your tastebuds and fooled your brain into processing 'cheap and nasty' as 'mmm, tasty', but that's a small price to pay. It's quite smooth and creamy (that'll be ever-generous Sainsbury's and their hefty addition of 'creamer', then. No expense spent) and there's a vague hint of vegetables. Despite smelling strongly of chicken, it doesn't really taste like it, just a bit vaguely meaty. With the addition of toast, it'll fill you up for a couple of hours. Well, if you're used to surviving on student food it will. If you actually eat nutritionally balanced meals this'll probably only last you for about half an hour. Still, at 79p, that's not bad.
If any further recommendation were needed, as I've been looking at my box I've noticed that it reached and beached the use by date a good two years ago, and yet it still tastes as fresh and yummy as the day it was first concocted by mixing lots of random chemicals in a test tube.
'Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.' ~ Auguste Escoffier
I'm pretty sure instant soup isn't what Escoffier was referring to but I always have a packet stashed in my desk drawer at work for those days when I haven't had the time to make myself a sandwich or salad for lunch. (I'm too much of a cheapskate to pay the inflated prices the sandwich man charges!) and Sainsburys Soup in a Cup is my soup of choice these days. As I tend to limit my soups to Ministrone, Mushroom or some variety of Tomato, I'll restrict this review mainly to those varieties.
The price varies depending on the variety. Currently Ministrone is 50p for 4 x 18g sachets and Tomato & Vegetable and Mushroom are selling at 55p for 4 x 24g sachets. I'm not certain but think the price difference is simply due to the weight of the contents.
Dried Glucose Syrup, Potato Starch, Palm Oil, Maltodextrin, Croutons, Yeast Extract, Salt, Dried Mushroom (3%), Flavourings, Sugar, Mushroom Powder (1%), Milk Proteins, Emulsifiers, Onion Powder, Dried Parsley, Caramelised Sugar.
The ingredients for the Minestrone are very similar with tomato powder instead of mushroom powder and 3.5% vegetables minus the mushrooms and, of course, with the addition of pasta shapes which account for 8% of the serving..
I tend to drink (or should that be eat) the Minestrone more than the other varieties, simply because it has less calories and I seem to be on a permanent diet these days. The dried powder mixes easily with the boiling water and as long as it is given a vigorous and thorough stirring, all the powder dissolves. I've experienced other cup soups where the bottom is filled with semi solidified mix which is very salty and unpleasant.
With the Minestrone there is a good balance between the amount of liquid and vegetables and the croutons keep their crunchiness well. The taste is mainly of tomatoes and quite honestly apart from adding colour interest and texture, it isn't really possible to taste the vegetables. They are chopped very finely, of course, and add bulk to the soup but no added flavour it seems.
The Tomato and Vegetable variety is very similar to the Minestrone although the liquid is slightly more opaque and there aren't any pasta shapes. This variety, too, has croutons, which add a textural interest.
I've found both of these varieties to be tasty and filling and the croutons give a very satisfying crunch. I know that many people regard soup as a winter only foodstuff but these two varieties are light enough for summer eating and hot food always makes the stomach think it's had more to eat!
My favourite variety, however, is the Mushroom, again with lovely crunchy croutons. This needs an extra thorough mixing because the powder doesn't dissolve as readily as the lighter soups and tends to linger at the bottom of the cup if you aren't careful. This has a light and creamy texture with plenty of mushroom bits, although because they are dried and rehydrated very quickly, they do tend to be a bit like chewing tiny pieces of leather. I suspect that most of the mushroom flavour comes from the mushroom powder and added flavourings rather than the actual dried mushroom. That being said, this is a tasty soup and, again, is very filling.
These three soups are all suitable for vegetarians.
My local Sainsburys also sell this soup in the Chicken & Leek, Chicken Noodle and Chicken & Vegetable varieties but I haven't eaten any of these so can't really comment fully although I should imagine they are of a similar quality to the vegetable varieties.
Sainsburys Soup in a Cup is also available in a thicker recipe which I should imagine would be great for winter consumption. I'm not sure whether this is the full range but at my branch of Sainsburys they sell Pea & Ham, Thai Chicken, Spicy Lentil, Vegetable Chowder, Tomato & Herb and Mushroom & Madeira. I haven't tried any of these yet but probably will once the cold weather arrives.
There is also a whole range of Be Good to Yourself Soup in a Cup varieties. I've tried a couple of these but they are mostly very thin and watery with the exception of the Lentil and Tomato which, although still thin, is quite tasty. However, the non-diet varieties I'm reviewing here are pretty low in calorific value per sachet anyway, with the Mushroom at 106 kcal and the Minestrone at 64 kcal.
Any cup soup will never be as tasty or filling as canned and homemade soups but for a quick snack or as an emergency lunch these Soups in a Cup more than fit the bill and at about 12p a cup they won't break the bank either.