WARMING, comforting food is just what we need these days, and soup fits the bill perfectly. Pair with a decent wholemeal or sourdough bread and you have a feast.
Two stalls in Cork’s English Market make delicious takeaway soups and are worth mentioning. Sensasian Food at Unit 1 (Princes Street entrance) had a delicious lentil soup the day we tasted, which was thick and satisfying, while beside it at My Goodness they ladle their vegetable-based broth into two sizes of containers. They make fermented products, and this was typical, with a well-balanced flavour that was lively and good as a broth. I used it to sit fillets of haddock in to cook gently until opaque. I added some grated carrot and parsnip for the easiest supper ever.
The Chicken Inn, also in the market, has a good, light chicken stock to use as a base for our own soups.
Big Tom spiced tomato juice in a tall bottle is a new product made in England. Gently spiced, with an interesting play of citrussy tamarind with added sugar, it can be used to make a Bloody Mary or heated gently for soup. In Tesco.
Taking our cue from the new-year saying ‘out with the old in with the new’, we sought out soups we hadn’t tasted before. I was impressed that there were far fewer additives and less salt than in former surveys. People power.
Sadie’s Kitchen Comforting chicken bone broth 350ml €4.50 Free range Irish chicken bones 40% have added onions, celery, organic apple cider vinegar, garlic, black pepper, thyme, rosemary and turmeric to make a flavoursome broth, ideal for low days when a cup of soup is all we need. Add noodles/grated root vegetables/peas for an easy supper. A gelatinous texture before heating is a good sign, like our own made from a decent bird. Not cheap. Made in Ireland. Score: 7.75
Cully & Sully Japanese style miso broth 500g €3.99 Gluten and dairy free, as we would expect with a broth, this is made from miso paste made with soya beans, brown rice and salt; 1% shiitake mushrooms, wakame seaweed, white pepper. This delivers an umami feast with lots of strong flavours. The taste has a slightly harsh punch from seaweed and shiitake mushrooms. Tasters were divided, but enjoyed it as a sauce when cooked with fish, softening the overall effect. Score: 7.25
The Kitchen at Quishs Roast red pepper, tomato & basil soup 500ml €2.99 The fresh flavours of the ingredients listed in the title deliver what is expected. A light soup, it was comforting and would be good for anyone recuperating from illness, with a nice herbal kick to liven the taste buds. It didn’t excite some of the tasters enough to make it their favourite, but they appreciated its natural simplicity. Made in Cork and sold in Quish’s SuperValu Ballincollig. Score: 7
Marks & Spencer Chilli bean & rice soup 600g €3.90 Beef bone stock and 4% tiny beef pieces, the base of tomatoes is supported with 4% rice, and red kidney and black eyed beans. Carrots, onion, leeks and celery are flavoured with a well balanced hit of chilli, cumin and paprika. A hearty mouthful enjoyed by tasters. Score: 8.25
Kinsale Bay Mushroom soup 400g €2.79 Commendably only thickened with a little cornflour (therefor gluten-free), feeling natural and with plenty of real, fresh mushroom flavours, this is a decent soup to have as is or as a base for leftover chicken or vegetables to make a meal. There are small pieces of potatoes too, flavours include onions, garlic and vegetable stock. No nasties, all goodies and made in Cork. Score: 8
Tesco Finest Sweet potato, coconut and chilli soup 600g €2.79 A fresh ginger hit here with a little lime, warming turmeric and a soft chilli hit contrast well with the creamy sweet potato flavour and smooth consistency. No additives. Tasters approved. A good buy. Made in Britain. Score: 8
Fusion and Street Vegetable soup with puy lentils, cumin & ginger 400g €3.10 A cream base with tomato has a hint of turmeric, but not enough cumin or ginger to justify the title, nor indeed enough lentils. The very small print of the ingredient list was barely legible and the website was no help. Still, a pleasant soup enjoyed by tasters. Score: 6.75
The Happy Pear sweet potato, coconut & ginger soup 375g €2.79 Not much ginger flavour here, some coconut and the sweet potato are well blended to make a light, slightly sweet, smooth soup. Score: 6.75