Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And Yet More Soups...


When you read the following reviews, you'll see I seem to have entered a honeymoon phase with the Pacific brand, just like I did with Amy's in the past. In a short time I may find other brands to be enamored with, just as I might find at least a  Pacific soup I don't like, but it's been a tasty ride so far. I'm not trying to especially advertise Pacific here; they were just all good. And the flavors were so original, I couldn't resist trying a bunch of them. I also want you soup fiends to know that I am in full support of wonderful homemade soups over canned soups, but when life throws you a 50 hour work week, cross-country moving, needy cats and other difficulties, might as well make lemonade out of canned soups, if you see what I mean. When I've relocated, perhaps I'll begin with the making of actual soups. Maybe I will recreate some of my favorite flavors of canned soups as homemade soups. Life imitating art. Or something. Life imitating canned soup. What better thing to imitate?




Pacific Cashew Carrot Ginger
Pleasantly thick, creamy. Spicy—that ginger really packs a punch. If you like carrots and ginger, this is for you. The actual soup seems to be made mostly of carrots and there are also additional carrot pieces—mushy but very tasty, definitely carrots. I think I could just barely make out the cashew, but I wasn’t really expecting to be able to. Flavorful onion pieces complete it. B+ and if mushed-up vegetable soups are your favorite, it could deserve a higher grade. I think they're not my favorite, but I like them. This soup was like having dinner with Peter Rabbit in the South Pacific.



Pacific Chipotle Sweet Potato
The broth was thick, spicy, creamy. It was very chipotle and I think it was made mostly of sweet potato puree. The soup included small piece of tomatoes, which were tasty, and small pieces of white potatoes, which were pleasantly textured—not too mushy at all. It was pretty sinus-cleansing spicy and also very autumn-y -- like crunching on the leaves as you walk home thinking about how to talk to the new boy or girl in school and what you're going to wear for Halloween, but also, in your somewhat crowded mind, you're  saying the word "Chihuahua. Chihuahua" over and over again and wondering if it's a real place. I think my favorite of all the pureed-vegetable-style soups so far. A
Pacific Poblano Pepper and Corn
Well, this was a true delight. Very unique and also good—sometimes it’s either one or the other, but this did both well. Pleasantly firm potatoes, spicy flavorful broth, not overly salty, tastes like peppers, cumin, cilantro. Buoyant, sweet corn, tasty pieces of Poblano pepper, tomatoes, spinach. Again, fall in Mexico-- Like having an entertaining conversation with your comforting mamacita after work wherein you talk about what you might wear on the Day of the Dead. A+


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pot Pies

We're venturing out of the realm of soup. We're going after frozen foods. A quick mid-semester move with cats and being behind in work because of a mid-semester move with cats will bring on the holing-up behavior that emphasizes a greater commitment to and a more satisfying relationship with instant foods. So, here goes:



Amy's Non-Dairy Vegetable Pot Pie
I love pot pies. But, oops-- I bought something “No Dairy.” I am a cheese and cream addict, so color me suspicious, but curious.   In reading about this Vegetable Pot Pie, I discovered that it’s the crust that needed to be de-dairyed, so this  might be okay. When it’s finished its hour in the oven I prick the crust to find nicely flavored and textured potatoes, tasty carrots, pleasant tofu and the occasional pea. The crust is pretty good and so is the sauce-- salty but every pot pie has salty sauce and it appropriately seasons the potatoes; I don’t really miss the dairy. This was enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More Soups!

It's finally that time of year again, when it may drop below 80 degrees in Baton Rouge. So it's soup time! I'm just going to start off by putting new reviews here; maybe I'll categorize them eventually and join them with the others to aid soup investigators.

I started the season with an autumn-y Lentil Vegetable from one of our top performers so far: Amy's.


Amy's Lentil Vegetable
It's very sweet, kind of cinammon-y. It has potatoes, carrots, lentils, spinach, and maybe 3 pieces of green bean per can. It was good, but not my favorite Amy's soup so far, I think because of the sweetness and because it's not very many vegetables to be called Lentil Vegetable. The lentils are very good, but not amazing, and no other vegetable really stands out here, except the potatoes, which were authentically potatoes enough to have a little skin on some of them, and not overly mushy. I had an inspiration for adding to the soup-- plain yogurt on top. Very good this way; it combats the sweetness and makes the soup taste richer. I had some leftover the next day--it was good cold. Overall, this one gets a B+.  Kind of like having a "sensible" meal with your fifth grade teacher, but I liked my fifth grade teacher, so.

 



Dr. Macdougal’s Country Vegetable Low Sodium
While this broth was tasty, it was not memorable, and neither were the vegetables. All very standard-soup smushy.  The type of soup that is not really supposed to be a meal but given to you because there's no time and your family has to get to the airport in an hour. Potatoes, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, onions, green beans, peas. There are both better and worse vegetable soups. B-




Amy's French Country Vegetable

Pinto beans, barley (wonderful barley), zucchini, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, red pepper. The broth tastes buttery (in a good way) and there’s a hint of tomato, just a hint. A- —the only reason it doesn’t get an A+ is because I might have preferred fewer beans, but maybe this is what distinguishes it from other vegetable soups and makes it “French Country Vegetable.” Like strolling through the town square searching for a good Bourdeaux or a nice scarf for Maman.

Go here to see a review of another, very good vegetable soup.


 Muir Glen Homestyle Split Pea

The only split pea soup I’ve ever seen with piece of celery in it. They were mushy, but it was interesting that they were even there and made me feel like the soup was “real” “food.”  (“”).  Pleasant and mild flavor, a little sweet—less chunky/fatty tasting than the split pea soups I grew up with, which is good if you’re wanting to feel healthy, and bad if you really just want that ole lumpy greasy split pea. (This one is vegan so of course there was no bacon.)  I remembered that some of those old styles actually had whole peas in them though, which I liked. The fact that this was all pretty pureed wasn’t offensive, I think I just like to bite into things when I eat soup. But if someone was really sick in an I-just-need-soup way, having the whole thing be smooth might be nice. Kinda watery, I suppose, but pretty good. Like someone has put you in bed and told you sternly, "Now eat your soup!" and you say, "Yes ma'am. I do like it okay."  B




Health Valley Organic Minestrone, No Salt Added

Well. It needed salt; we'll just say that. The tomatoes were impressively tomatoes. I mean, I think I even saw a seed, and they had the consistency of tomatoes. But there were only 2-3 there. Two different types of beans-- red and pinto. The red ones had great consistency. Pasta shells, celery, carrots, green beans. None of the vegetables except the red beans, if those count, had any discernible texture-- all mush. The broth was okay, faintly tomato but nothing to write home about except to suggest that  the people at home not buy another can of this soup. There's much better broth out there and better vegetables. B-
Go here to read about some better minestrone.






 

Pacific Chicken Spinach Penne
 Nicely flavored, spicy broth, sort of tomato-y with some hint of cinnamon or cloves. The chicken was good. The carrots and penne were mushy but the broth but it all came together anyway and I was okay with it. It was tasty. I would get it again as an alternative to regular chicken noodle. A soup that is served because mom is trying to be "interesting" but also efficient on this evening because you have to get to your sister's performance at the Little Theater. B+


Amy's Rustic Italian Vegetable
The only soup I’ve ever seen with kale—and I could actually tell it was kale, saw the ruffles in the leaves. Amazing!  Broth has a buttery, tomato-y flavor. It had chick peas which were good but a little undercooked perhaps, a bit tough or chalky, but not completely offensive; chick peas are sometimes just like that. The tomatoes are good and there’s small pieces of zucchini, onions, mushrooms. It’s all held together by some awesome barley. Overall, this is a very good soup. A-  (I only give it a minus because of the chick peas, which were, like I said, still ok.) Like lunch in a little trattoria in the middle of your fresco painting workshop.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cup to the Cake


Cupcakes!

Nobody can possibly have a sense of royalty in his or her life if he or she does not have cupcakes!

* which he or she has made him or herself

I recommend the Joy of Cooking recipe for sour cream cupcakes...I kind of made a combination of yellow cupcakes and those. They were awesome. I will not try to instruct you in that; it was just a cool thing that happened, really, but study the two recipes and try them. :)

The Joy of Cooking fudge frosting was good too, but if you would like them to be done quickly and you're like me, you may involve the powdered sugar and corn starch.... it's all good...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Soup Reviews V: Other

Amy's Hearty Spanish Rice and Red Bean -- sweet, crunchy corn, tasty beans, rice with fantastic texture, good flavor and good with Tabasco. A+ and could be drained of water and used for purposes other than soup.





Imagine Potato and Leek -- Pretty good. a little strangeness about the flavor, which is eradicated by a dose of Tony Chachere's. I would eat it again, but not often. I don't know if it's weird or if it's just that potato and leek is a little weird, somewhat specialized. B-

Monday, March 28, 2011

Soup Reviews IV: Vegetable


Amy's (Chunky Vegetable) --
Tomato base, nice gentle-yet-firm tomato-y aromatic flavor. Tasty tomatoes, lima beans, green beans, peas,and corn with good texture, just a little springiness. Onions, carrots, and spinach with no texture, but those veggies rarely have any texture in any canned soups. It's enough for them to be there. A


365, Whole Foods Brand
Nice, sweet, springy corn, pretty good potatoes and tomatoes. Nondescript celery, onions, peas, spinach, and carrots. However, the carrots were impressively large, as though from some really awesome carrots. (The original meaning of "awesome.") Broth was peppery and just the right amount of salty. Otherwise, there wasn't a lot of flavor or excitement. But it was fine. B

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Soup Reviews III: Chicken


365 (Whole Foods) Chicken Noodle -- nice, big pieces of chicken, nice noodles, nondescript veggies (carrots and celery), good tasting broth. A

Organics Chicken Noodle -- nice pieces of chicken, okay noodles, okay broth, vegetables? well, sort of. maybe those bland little pieces were vegetables... B-

Imagine Chicken Pot Pie -- interesting creamy soup with very tasty chicken, large dumpling-ish noodles (I suppose that's the "pie") A