'Only the pure of heart, can make good soup'. So says a little man named Ludwig van Beethoven. In fairness, I am not sure whether he is the soup expert, but his comments certainly don't say much about the makers of canned, dehydrated, pouched and chilled soups.
There is evidence that soup was made in 2000 BC once waterproof pans were invented, but it wasn't until in 1742 when Eliza Smith's added several soup recipes in The Compleat Housewife that soup became more popular.
Experimentation and local ingredients meant that all over the world, recipes for soup were becoming regionalized.
Borcht - a beetroot soup from the Ukraine;
Cock a Leekie - made from leeks, potatoes and chicken broth from Scotland;
Minestrone - a vegetable soup from Italy;
Tom Yum - a hot and sour soup from from Thailand; and
Gumbo - hailing from the Southern USA.
Types of Soup
Soup can be served clear or thick.
Clear soups include, consomme, boullion, broths and ramen noodle soups.
Thick soups include puree soups thickened with vegetables and/or starch, bisques thickened with shellfish, cream soups thickened with béchamel sauce, veloute with egg and cream or just cream soups made with lashings of cream. Seafood and vegetable chowders can also be classified as a soup.
As you can see, there is plenty of choice for everyone.
Health Benefits of Soup
I had good reason to test the old wives tale that 'chicken broth cures a cold' last week. One of our team at Sian's Plan thought he detected signs of a cold so I whipped up a mean chicken broth and I am pleased to say, he was cured. It might just make you feel psychologically better, but there is other harder evidence:
- Chicken soup soup can inhibit the migration of white blood cells, which may cause chesty coughs.
- The amino acid cysteine found in chicken can help thin mucus.
- The pepper in the soup acts like over-the-counter medicines which help ease congestion.
There you go! Better get souping.
Even without a cold coming on, soups are palatable little bowls of genius, eaten or drunk whichever the case. Throw in a hunk of warm bread and a matchbox size piece of cheese and it can provide a balanced meal within minutes.
Home Made and Commercial Soup Comparisons
I think it's clear that soup is great. The question now is, do any of the commercial varieties work out? For more similar comparisons, check out my full blog.
Heinz Canned Chicken Noodle Soup
89p (49.5p per portion)
Water, Pasta Noodles (10% Water, Durum Wheat Semolina, Egg White), Modified Cornflour, Chicken (2%), Sweetcorn, Onions, Red Peppers, Cornflour, Sugar, Flavourings (contains Celery, Celeriac), Concentrated Poultry Stock (Turkey, Chicken), Salt, Yeast Extract, Herb Extracts, Garlic Salt, Spice Extract, Herb, Colour - Beta-Carotene
Knorr Super Chicken Noodle Soup
Cost 75p a packet (37.5p per portion)
Pasta (65%) (Durum Wheat Semolina, Wheat Semolina), Potato Starch, Salt, Lower Sodium Natural Mineral Salt, Flavourings (contains Celery), Yeast Extract, Chicken (3.3%), Toasted Onion Powder (1.7%), Vegetable Fat, Sugar, Chicken Fat (1%), Spices (Celery Seed, Turmeric, Pepper), Parsley, Antioxidants (Alpha-Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate)
Chilled Tesco Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup
£1.50 (75p per portion)
Chicken Stock, Sweetcorn (20%), Potato, Cooked Chicken (7%), Onion, Double Cream, Spring Onion, Cornflour, Vegetable Oil, Salt, Garlic Purée, Turmeric, White Pepper, Chicken Stock contains: Water, Chicken Skin, Chicken, Sugar, Salt, Cornflour, Chicken Fat, Onion Concentrate, Cooked Chicken contains: Chicken, Cornflour
Home Made Chicken Broth
Cost £3.50 (87p per portion)
2 litres Chicken Stock (reduced salt)
2 chicken fillets (skinless)
3 carrots (peeled and diced)
2 onions (peeled and diced)
2 stalks celery (sliced finely)
150 grms egg noodles
- Place all the ingredients in a big pot.
- Bring to boil, turn down the heat and simmer for up to 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
- Before serving into 4 warm bowls, remove the hot chicken fillets and chop or shred using two forks. Place back into saucepan.
- Taste and season accordingly. Garnish with chopped parsley or celery leaf .
- Serve with warm crusty bread and a match box size slab of cheese.
Tip: To reduce the cost use skinless chicken thighs.
The commercial soups are competitively priced (bar the chilled soup) but the price does reflect the lack of chicken - between 2% - 7%, whilst the home made soup has 20% chicken. The fresh vegetables in the soup obviously makes for a more balanced, flavoursome soup. And you're getting lots of your five a day. All in all despite having to prepare the fresh vegetables, home made beats commercial every time.
More recipes on Sian's Plan.