Well, there's a definite nip in the air so it's time to start finding hearty warming comfort food to fill our tummies and warm our bones ! What better than a bowl of soup ? Especially when it's ready made and all you have to do is warm it up and pour it in a bowl ! I'd never heard of Rod & Ben's range of soups so, when the chance came up to review them, we were very keen to try them out.
We received a pot of Smoked Haddock Chowder, a pot of Broccoli & Stilton and a mystery pot of unlabelled soup. I was quite prepared to do a blind test and try to guess the flavour but a quick bit of investigation revealed that it had the same date and batch number as the big tub so it was an extra serving of Broccoli & Stilton.
We decided to start off with this one, which was October's Soup of the Month. (Remind you of another top ready-to-serve soup manufacturer yet ? (New Covent Garden, if you haven't guessed !) Me too, in more ways than one ! They're very well matched in terms of taste, texture, healthy seasonal ingredients and convenience.)
Now, I should explain that I don't like Stilton and I eat broccoli because it's healthy but not because it's one of my favourite flavours so I came to this soup expecting not to like it at all. The plan was to try it and if we didn't like it, to eat the Smoked Haddock Chowder instead. Well, plan B never came into play because, against all odds, we loved it !
Just what you need on a cold autumnal evening - a lovely warming bowl of thick soup with a chunk of bread fresh out of the breadmachine !
Rod and Ben's explain that all their soups are made using simple recipes so that the ingredients' integrity - colour, flavour and texture - is preserved. The full winter soup line-up includes:
NEW Farmhouse Vegetable - wheat and gluten-free
Smoked Haddock Chowder - wheat and gluten-free
Carrot and Coriander - wheat and gluten-free
Leek and Potato - wheat and gluten-free
Spiced Lentil - wheat, gluten and dairy-free
Tomato and Basil - wheat, gluten and dairy-free
Spicy Parsnip - wheat and gluten-free
Chicken and Vegetable - wheat and gluten-free
Bacon and Lentil - wheat and gluten-free
Soups of the Month: September: Vegetable Mulligatawny; October: Broccoli and Stilton; November: Cream of Cauliflower; December: Beetroot and Cumin; January: Moroccan Vegetable; February: Celeriac and Leek
Just on taste alone, I would have highly recommended these soups but they also have an admirable guiding principle of using local organic produce. Since 2008 Rod has run the farm and business himself. Ben lives a few miles away at Summerhill Farm, a Land Trust property. Ben supplies Rod with free range eggs from his award-winning hens for Rod's veg boxes, and they are still great friends. They explain : "Mixing a hearty helping of leeks, carrots, potatoes, onion and parsley, all grown on Rod and Ben's organic farm, the new Farmhouse Vegetable soup is made from a recipe developed with the help of author and food expert Carole Handslip. Meanwhile, its Smoked Haddock Chowder, which is made from haddock caught off the Cornish coast and smoked at the award-winning family-run smokehouse Tregida, recently impressed judges at the Soil Association Organic Food awards 2011, who gave this tasty chunky chowder a thumbs-up "Highly Commended"."
Well, they get another thumbs-up "Highly Commended" from The Madhouse too !
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £2.99-£3.25 for a 600g pot
for more information : http://www.rodandbens.com/
Rod and Ben's winter season soups are available from independent retailers (including Abel and Cole, Riverford, Planet Organic stores, Union Market, Selfridges and As Nature Intended), delicatessens and farm shops all around the Country, south west Morrison's stores and by mail order via www.rodandbens.com from 1st October until May.
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