* Prices may differ from that shown
Most days my kitchen is filled with the aroma of a veggie soup bubbling away on the hob. There is nothing like a delicious home made broth, and for anyone on a budget it is a cheap way of making filling and nutritious meals, especially if you add protein in the form of beans or pulses. I make yellow spilt pea and lentil soup every week, and they are simple to make and ready to eat with a slice of chunky bread for little more than a few pence per serving.
There are however some days when due to being very busy that I don't have the time to prepare a soup so I then buy other alternatives, which I keep either in the fridge or in the store cupboard. I do however try to buy healthy alternatives which are ethical if I can, and Suma Organic Spicy Lentil is like an old friend- reliable and dependable.
This is a canned soup so is long life, and it has become more available in recent years making its way onto supermarket shelves, though often to be found in the whole foods section. It generally retails for around the £1 mark, and I often mail order mine from my favourite online retailer, Ethical Superstore, at www.ethicalsuperstore.com. If you do this remember to click through from a cash-back site such as Quidco or Topcashback, (the latter being my favourite as it charges no annual fee) for a 10% return.
Ordering from Ethical Superstore will also give you a special offer so if you were to purchase a case of 12 tins you would also receive an extra 5% back. The soup is also widely available in health food stores.
The soup is made from water, red lentils, carrots, onions, corn syrup, sunflower oil, sea salt, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and black pepper. This recipe almost mirrors my own, though I usually add celery and only use cumin as a spice. I do, however use a vegetable stock cube instead. I will include my recipe for this soup at the end of the review, in case anyone wishes to make their own. What I would say about this Suma version however is that it is much spicier than mine, and I find it to be a refreshing change as it offers something over and above what I make myself.
The soup is great for vegans, so it is another reason I have this in my store cupboard for when my daughter visits with her boyfriend, as they are both vegan. So many soups now have cream or milk added to them so this is ideal. It also saves on calories as well as half a tin of this is only 100 calories. I actually usually have the entire tin as this is then a substantial lunch at only 200 calories, and as the soup is only 1.2 g fat per 100g it is healthy too.
For any coeliacs reading this review the great news is that it is certified to be gluten free.
Many people may never have heard of Suma and it may be helpful to just explain who they are and a little history. They are actually now the largest independent whole food distributor in the UK. As well as this they also sell a large range of their own branded products which are all ethical, fair trade and many are also organic. They are a co-operative, and for the last thirty years have devoted themselves to this business, picking up many awards for excellence along the way.
The soup is richly coloured and is a smooth consistency having been well blended. When I make this soup I do blend it, but this one is certainly done more than mine. However if you are not used to whole foods in general this soup is a good place to start, as it is easy on the digestive system. The taste is a lovely spicy blend of flavours and there is nothing nicer than a steaming bowl of this soup when you come home from the cold after a long dog walk or a day at work. They have got the blend of spices just right in this dish, and as I said earlier I like the taste as it is very different to mine.
To prepare it you shake the can before you open it. This is to ensure the contents have been well mixed. You simply heat in a saucepan gently for a few minutes, but don't be tempted to let it boil as it really does spoil the flavours. As this soup is organic, I have noticed that different batches have a different shade to them, it's only subtle, but it reflects the natural product that this is, but most bowls will be a hearty rusty brown shade with a tinge of amber.
I would say that compared to my home made soup this is as good as mine and certainly a great stand-by for days when time is short. For those of you considering a soup making attempt here is my recipe. It's rough and ready, amounts don't matter- it is designed to be a soup for even the most serious kitchen novice.
First of all use a large pan. I actually have a giant one as there is nothing worse than a soup which piles over the edges as you stir it. The fry an onion for a few seconds and add some chopped carrots and celery and some lentils and a stock cube, which you have made up with boiling water. As a guide a handful of lentils, one carrot stick, and a stick of celery will need one cube and around 500mls water. Then add half a teaspoon of cumin powder. Then you just simmer for about 20 minutes. If it looks like the lentils are absorbing all the water add some more stock. If you have used more ingredients then double the stock at the outset. Then after 20 minutes when the vegetables are soft and the lentils are cooked, you simply liquidise and serve. It's delicious and hearty, but so is the Suma version, it just depends on how much time you have, and if you are looking for healthy lunches either will suffice perfectly.
Suma Spicy Lentil Soup will grace any lunch table with a healthy nutritious low fat meal, and will stand in the cupboard like an old friend waiting for the day you need them, and will reward you with a guilt free alternative to some soups, which can deliver a lot of calories and fat in one can.
If you enjoy this variety there are many more organic soups in the range to try including some more favourites of mine, namely the Tuscan Bean and Organic Pea, both of which are a hearty meal in themselves.