Reviewed by Louise Totton
There is a cupboard in my kitchen that my partner not so lovingly refers to as my kitchen gadget graveyard. It is stuffed full of mini appliances that seemed like a wonderful idea at the time, but that got used once or twice and then reality set in; I preferred shop-bought ice-cream to the stuff I made, homemade bread is better when made in the oven than a bread maker and there is absolutely no need to make a scrambled egg into a sausage shape! There is so much stuff in this cupboard that we are in danger of needing a second kitchen gadget graveyard and he is in danger of losing his tool cupboard!
Given that he is at least as attached to his drills, screwdrivers and hammers as I am to my popcorn machine, blow torch and Raclette grill, I’m sure you’ll understand that he was less than delighted at the prospect of yet another ‘useful’ device making its way into the house, but it seemed that he would just have to cope, because we had been given the job of trying out the Salter 1.6 litre soup maker.
I absolutely love soup – I have always thought that it is a fantastic way get veggies into reluctant kids as well as being brilliant for creating low-calorie yet filling meals when I am on one of my regular health kicks! I have also found that being able to home make the kinds of meals that are normally convenience foods, like soup, means that they can be made allergen-free; I haven’t had a cream of mushroom soup for years because all of the cans of cream of mushroom soup seem to contain wheat and I have to avoid gluten due to Coeliac disease.
I was particularly keen to get going with the soup maker because my dad is unwell at the moment, and as well as being a great way to create low-calorie meals, soup can also be a great way to make high-calorie foods that are easy to digest and contain lots of vitamins.
There seem to be two different styles of soup maker on the market – kettle style and ones that look more like a blender. This particular soup maker is the kettle style of soup maker, the more compact of the two design types, which makes it ideal for the smaller kitchen or one where storage or counter space is an issue.
Contained in the box is the soup maker jug, lid with control panel and blender blade, AC power adapter, small plastic measuring cup, green cleaning pad and white cleaning brush to get the nook and crannies of the device clean. There is also a quick-start guide, instructional manual and a selection of soup recipes included. We were sent the stainless-steel version of the soup maker and I think it looks really smart. It has a similar footprint to a standard kettle although it is slightly taller, and the cylindrical shape combined with the brushed stainless-steel and black trim give it a high-quality, industrial feel.
I found this machine so simple to use – because the machine consists of just the jug and lid, there is no complicated assembly or disassembly each time you use it. It really is just plug and go. The lid of the device is the brains of the thing – it features the power button and the function selection button, as well as the indicators for the three different soup making settings and the auto-clean setting on the top, and the blades for blending soup underneath. The jug of the kettle is home to the heating element, a large plastic handle and the socket for the power cord. The whole thing is a substantial weight, without being too heavy, and feels sturdy, solid and great quality.
We decided to start simple and used one of the recipes in the instruction guide – the one we fancied trying the most was the spicy potato soup. We thought this recipe sounded both delicious and very simple – it has only six ingredients and most of them are things that we always have in the house anyway. We used:
- Medium potatoes (2, cut into 1cm cubes)
- Medium onions (2, finely chopped)
- Vegetable stock (800ml)
- Double cream (100ml)
- Groundnut oil (2 tbsp)
- Curry powder (1 tbsp)
Making the recipe was an absolute cinch – it was literally three steps! After giving the inside of the jug a spray with Frylight oil to prevent sticking, I added all of the ingredients to the jug except the double cream, powered it on and selected the smooth setting. The smooth setting uses the blender stick to puree the ingredients after cooking to produce a smooth soup, whereas the chunky setting cooks the ingredients but doesn’t use the blender, meaning the soup has a chunky, rustic style. Once the programme had finished (around 25 minutes and indicated by a beep), I lifted the lid from the soup maker, added in the double cream, replaced the lid and selected the blend function. The blend function acts like a standard kitchen blender, so operates the blades without applying heat for around three minutes.
This recipe was absolutely delicious, was completely mess-free to make and was so very cheap, simple and healthy – it was literally made with onions and potatoes that were probably a bit past their best and would have ended up in the bin, and a few store cupboard ingredients. The thing that we really liked was that if it was just the two of us that were having it, we could be a bit more generous with the curry powder, but as we were sharing it with the kids, I used a bit less as they’re not fans of spicy foods. I used gluten free stock cubes – it was so easy to convert this recipe to gluten free, whereas I have lost count of the number of cans of soup in the shops that I have had to put back on the shelf because they contain ingredients that I can’t eat.
The kids particularly liked the blend setting as we were also able to make quick, easy and delicious cold smoothies and milkshakes for them. Just throwing some soft fruit into the jug along with milk and yoghurt (or for a more indulgent treat, ice-cream) makes for a lovely treat especially on a warm summer day.
Cleaning the machine is as easy as using it too – it has an auto clean setting which, just like everything else on the device, works quickly and efficiently. Cleaning is a simple case of filling the jug to the MAX line with warm water and selecting the auto clean function. Each auto clean cycle takes around 4 minutes and we found that we had to run the cycle a couple of times to get it as clean as we wanted. As none of the device is dishwasher safe and nor can it be submersed in water, after getting the majority of the cooking residue off with using the auto clean function, we only had to wipe it round with the included green scouring pad and give the blades a once over with the little brush and it was clean and ready to be put away.
We really loved this little device. We have had it for nearly two weeks and it has been used most days, initially starting with the recipes in the book but it really is so simple that we quickly progressed to recipes online as well as a couple of pretty successful attempts at just chucking the contents of the veg drawer into it with stock and some flavouring and hoping for the best! We have not had a bad meal yet, but I have to say that we do much prefer the smooth recipes over the chunky ones. It has been a doddle altering recipes to suit the person they are made for, so I have made some high calorie, fortified soups for my dad, ones with hidden veg for the kids and some lower-calorie healthy ones for me. Given how simple it is to use, and how much we have enjoyed both using it and eating the results, I don’t think my other half needs to worry about this one going to the gadget graveyard cupboard, and his man-cupboard is safe for now! It is nearly as easy to make soup in this as it is to heat up a tin and the soup is so much healthier, tastier and is adaptable to suit different tastes – a triple winner!
This is a decent and substantial bit of kit, so even at the full RRP of £99.99, I think it is very reasonably priced. Having said that, at the time of writing it is on offer at Amazon for under £45, which really is a bargain. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this great little gadget, and think it is a really useful addition to any kitchen.
RRP: £99.99 (currently £43.94 on Amazon – 15/5/19)