Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy lunchtime fix, or a comforting supper on a cold winter’s evening, there are few things better than a bowl of warm, nourishing soup. There are also some great recipes for summer soups too. Let your imagination loose, and with a soup maker you can experiment at home to your heart’s content!
Why Every Kitchen Needs a Soup Maker
Whether you choose a jug style or a blender style, a soup maker is an increasingly popular small appliance for the kitchen. It offers a fool-proof method to make use of whatever ingredients you have to hand, even without a definite recipe to follow, and an easy way to help your family get their ‘five-a-day.’ This is especially useful if you are catering for children who are sometimes reluctant to eat their greens.
Features to Consider
Essentially, most soup makers work on a similar premise to a blender, in that they are able to mix all of your ingredients together quickly and easily. They go further than the blender, however, because they are able to heat the soup too. They are a combination of a blender and slow cooker in jug or blender form to deliver you delicious soup every time. You might even choose a model that comes with a warming function that can keep your soup at a certain temperature once it is cooked.
There are some blender styles of soup maker that come with a sauté function for vegetables, different chopping options and some even able to cope with ice, which is ideal for a delicious gazpacho. If you prefer to be able to control the thickness of your soup, most models will have a manual option. Whether you sauté in the soup maker or in a frying pan beforehand, adding this frying step helps to intensify the flavours and can be a good option for ingredients such as garlic and onions.
With so many of us focusing more on what we eat and where it comes from, smoothies are another popular healthy ‘fast’ food, and there are lots of soup makers that double-up as a smoothie maker.
Whatever you’re making, cleaning up afterwards must be a consideration; choose a model that has parts that are easily cleaned.
The size of the appliance that you need depends on the number of people you will be regularly catering for. If you need just one or two portions, a soup maker at the smaller end of the scale will be more than sufficient, but if you might cater for more – or you could freeze some for another day – then buying a larger model could be the better investment.
Hints and Tips for Using a Soup Maker
A little preparation goes a long way. Thaw any frozen ingredients completely beforehand and chop them in advance of adding them to your soup. Cutting vegetables into small cubes allows them to cook fully on a shorter cycle and potatoes or root vegetables, in particular, should be finely chopped. If you are making soup with meat, make sure that it is cooked before you add it to the soup maker. Of course, if any of your ingredients have been thawed from frozen, your soup should not be re-frozen.
Like a slow cooker, you will need to use oil. Some recipes state what sort of oil should be used but if no preference is stated, olive oil is a sound choice, or a simple portion of butter. A low-fat spray can also work for those looking for a lighter calorie option.
Keep the lid on during cooking. It keeps to the heat inside and the temperature constant and it also ensures that neither you nor your kitchen is spattered with hot soup!
Another way of keeping the temperature up is to use boiling water to make your stock; it helps the vegetables cook properly and is a great way to ensure a stronger overall flavour.
Once you have made your decision as to which model to choose, you’ll quickly find it becomes a key part of your kitchen arsenal. Once you have found the right soup maker for your lifestyle, you won’t look back.
To get the most out of your machine, make sure that you read your instruction booklet and keep to the manufacturer’s guidelines, including minimum and maximum volumes. The manufacturer will also give you advice as to how to clean and maintain your appliance to get the most from it so that you can serve soup to your friends and family for years to come.
Many user guides include a selection of recipes to get you started and give you a little inspiration to branch out and create other recipes going forwards. There are also lots of recipe books for soup makers available from a range of retailers to cover suggestions for every meal, starters and main courses, and for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.