December is always a hectic month. What, with all the shopping and planning festive meals, school fayres, Nativity and Christingle, helping with end of term homework, I am feeling on the verge of collapse. Thanks goodness, the school is over for a while.
When you need a meal in a hurry, a soup is often the answer, especially when "the weather outside is frightful".
I'm a decent cook, and often make soup from scratch. But at lunchtime, when my guys are at school and work, I sometimes opt for a ready-made soup. Thankfully, in the last month I had help from Baxters.
Baxters Hearty range of soup offers a selection of recipes from around the world.
Hearty Tuscan Style Bean, Bacon & Pecorino if full of Meditteranean flavours.
This wholesome soup contains 3 of your 5 a day, no artificial colours or flavours
The blurb on the back of the tin says: "Inspired by my Italian travels, I created this taste of the Mediterranean by combining double smoked bacon with a medley of borlotti, cannellini and pinto beans. The distinctive, sharp and salty flavour of the Pecorino cheese adds another dimension to this recipe"
Ingredients include mixed beans, tomatoes, onions, tomato paste, courgette, red pepper, smoked bacon, green peppers, Pecorino cheese etc.
It could be included in a 5:2 diet or any low cal diet, as this is a low fat meal with 244kcal per can. It could do with lowering the amount of sugar as well, as it has 12.4g of sugar in a tin.
I love chunky Italian-style soups, and this soup follows the classic recipe.
Hearty Chicken & Sweetcorn Chowder is another classic recipe. Sweetcorn chowder is the ultimate comfort food, creamy and packed with flavour.
Soup stats: 1 of your five a day; 296kcal per can.
"This recipe cheers up even the dullest day! A rich and creamy soup made with a delicious blend of succulent chicken, potatoes, sweetcorn and a generous splash of double cream. A sprinkling of thyme is the finishing touch which compliments the chicken beautifully!"
Hearty Smoked Red Lentil & Smoked Bacon soup contains 2 of your 5 a day. I love red lentils-based soups, and often add them to whichever soup I'm cooking, they bulk up any soup nicely.
"The double smoked bacon in this delightful recipe combines perfectly with pureed red lentils & vegetables to create this wholesome & warming soup. The final touches are a warming blend of spices - coriander, turmeric, ginger & chilli to name but a few".
I do love spices in soup, but this was quite hot for my personal taste. A bit too heavy on the chilli. Perhaps a good spoonful of Greek style yogurt or soured cream would make reduce the heat.
Calorie-wise it counts 272kcal per can.
Hearty Beef, Bean & Vegetable soup is a traditional combination of flavours.
At 2 of your 5 a day and 188kcal per can, it will make a lovely lunch. Many people go on a diet in January or start counting the calories, and this chunky tasty soup could be just the thing.
"This recipe is big on fill and flavour. Tender pieces of beef are combined with chunky vegetables & cannellini beans to create this wholesome, hearty soup. A cheeky splash of red wine to enhance the flavour just finishes it off nicely".
I enjoyed this soup, but I have to say, it could do with more beef, it was more of a beef-flavoured soup as the chunks of beef were but a few and very small.
Hearty Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, Chilli & Lime soup was my top favourite from the range. I love sweet potato and butternut squash, and lime adds a lovely zing to the sweet and earthy soup.
Stats: 3 of your 5 a day+ 232kcal
"For me this soup is a real treat! Butternut squash & sweet potato are such versatile ingredients. Blended with a selection of warming spices and finished off with some red chilli and a squeeze of lime, this recipe is truly delicious!"
I haven't yet tried the sixth flavour - Country vegetable, but expect it to be as hearty and flavourful as all the soups in the range.
Have you tried the Hearty range? Which flavour is your favourite?
Disclosure: I received a selection of Baxters Hearty soup for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are my own.