Which tastes better, soup made from scratch in your own home kitchen or soup from a carton pulled off the supermarket shelf? My participation in a recent Souper Fresh Taste Test sponsored by Heinz had me questioning presumptions about such a query.
Of course, we all might like to think that homemade food is always the top choice. But actually, if something can be done more efficiently and cost effectively, then I’m all for having that work done by somebody else. But (as anyone who’s ever browsed across this blog should know well) flavour is key to my decisions when it comes to eating, and usually readymade meals and big brand offerings fall short of any flavoursome promise.
So when folks from Heinz got in touch about doing a taste test pitting one of the new Heinz Soup of the Day recipes against my own creation, I was keen and curious about how it would turn out – and decidedly determined to take them up on the challenge.
The Heinz Soup of the Day range includes six different recipes:
- Tomato, Roasted Garlic & Black Pepper
- Green Garden Vegetables
- Chicken, Parsnip & Rosemary
- Potato & Leek with Chives
- Spiced Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Carrot
- Fragrant Thai Carrot & Coconut
For my taste test, I went with Heinz Soup of the Day Fragrant Thai Carrot & Coconut. Best thing in my opinion about it and all the Soup of the Day recipes is that the ingredients list doesn’t read like a science experiment. For example, Fragrant Thai Carrot & Coconut has these items in it: water, carrot, onion, celery, cornflour, sunflower oil, cream, coconut, garlic, salt and Thai yellow paste (lemongrass, garlic, shallot, salt, galangal, water, chilli, coriander, cumin, cardamom and other spices). I can go along with that.
There were four criteria I had to consider for the Souper Fresh Taste Test: time, faff, taste and cost. Here’s a breakdown of how Heinz and mine compared against one another.
- Time: Winner is Heinz!
Open a carton, pour contents into a pot, heat it up, pour contents into a bowl, serve. Or … slice, dice, grind, etc etc etc to make your own. Cooking the Soup of the Day took me only a few minutes whereas making my own (albeit at a leisurely pace) took nearly an hour – and I’m not even including the time spent shopping for the ingredients. No brainer here. The hands down winner was Heinz Soup of the Day.
- Faff: Ditto.
I’ll let you decide which involved less hassle: grabbing a carton of soup or doing up a pot from scratch. And, obviously, there was minimal clean up with soup from the carton. Making my own meant a full sink of pots and utensils that needed to be washed.
It should be said though – with respect to time and faff – that time spent cooking is hardly time wasted. I really enjoy playing around in my kitchen coming up with dishes (and then eating them). It’s relaxing and fun – but only when I have the free time to spare.
- Taste: Hmmm
Things get a little trickier here. It’s not so much that Heinz wasn’t tasty (it certainly was) but more a case of me loving to make my own food and being able to tweak a recipe as I see fit. Sometimes I like things to be extra spicy. Sometimes I might have a lot of ingredient that I need to use before it goes bad. Sometimes I’m cooking for someone who prefers things made a particular way.
For this taste test, I relied on the Fragrant Tahi recipe list provided by Heinz to make my from-scratch version. I’m not dissing it but maybe if I’d come up with my very own recipe I’d have far outdone the store-bought. I’d have probably used kaffir lime leaves in mine, and no dairy but more coconut milk for richer results. Maybe if I’d had the chance to shop at a fresh market or Asian grocery rather than my nearby supermarket, the from-scratch would have had more of an edge.
As for this specific taste test, I’m going to call it a draw. Besides, it’s simple enough to squirt some lime juice or sprinkle a bit of fresh coriander on top of a bowl to amp up the already yummy flavour of Heinz’s Fragrant Thai Carrot & Coconut.
- Cost: Soup of the Day is the Souper Saver
A 400g carton of Heinz Soup of the Day costs £1.40. That’s great value. Cost of my own was a bit more difficult to calculate. I was able to cobble together a number of ingredients from what I already had stashed. And what I did buy I had to purchase more than what I needed for one 400g portion.
Look, I don’t want to say store bought beats homemade as a rule. I don’t think it does most of the time. But if the choice is between coming up with your own soup creation or warming up a bowl of Heinz Soup of the Day it’s pretty clear which one wins out with respect to time, faff, and cost without having to give up on taste.
When getting close to suppertime is drawing near and the tummy’s starting to growl, it’s awfully nice to know there’s something nourishing and delicious in the cupboard that’s souper quick and easy to make.
Find out more about Heinz Soup of the Day at heinz.co.uk/en/products/soup.