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Saturday, October 15, 2011

When Is a Blender not a Blender?

When it is a SOUPMAKER!  When Queen Ginger first saw the Cuisinart® Blend and Cook® Soup Maker, she knew it was perfect for a Consumer Product Review®!  At $200, would a blender with heating elements REALLY be worth the money?  Inquiring GingerSnaps want to know, and so does Queen G, so she bought it and headed home to test it out!

You may ask "Queen Ginger, why not just open a can of soup and pop it in the microwave?"  Well, dear 'Snaps, I suppose you could, but have you read the nutrition label on most canned soups?  They are mostly salt, with some fat stirred in, and enough little cubes of ingredients to give the soup a name.  They are delicious, but terrible for you!  And the so called "healthy" soups just taste, well, healthy.  Homemade soups are relatively easy to make at home, but can be a bit of a mess by the time you use a blender, and perhaps a food processor, and a pot on the stove- that pretty much leaves you cleaning the whole kitchen!  Wouldn't it be nice if you could do it all in one unit that can just pop into the dishwasher?

First, a little about the machine itself.  It looks for all the world like a regular blender, although when you compare it to a regular blender, it's a bit taller, and the bottom of the jar is somewhat wider than most. There is a knob to control the blend functions, buttons to control the cooking temperature, and a timer that must be set in order for the elements to heat.  The blending and cooking functions cannot be operated at the same time, but there is a "stir" function that will turn the blades at a slow speed while cooking to mix the ingredients.  The jar and lid can go into the dishwasher, and the blade unit with the heating plate is easy enough to rinse clean in the sink. Used without the heating elements, it can be used just like a regular blender to make margaritas. Or margaritas. You could even make a pitcher of margaritas!  Aside from that, Queen Ginger has found most blenders to be relatively useless... until now!

Queen Ginger had not sent a waif to the grocery store in ages, but she managed to find a recipe right there in the book to make with ingredients she had on hand!  She had an onion, some dried lentils, and a couple of carrots that were just beginning to get a bit flabby, but hey, that's another great thing about making soup: you can use vegetables that are a bit too ripe to serve raw or whole, but no quite putrid enough for the compost heap!  Queen G just loves a chance to be green!

The process for most soups starts, like all things delicious, with a bit of fat and some onions.  Here you can see the butter cholesterol-free margarine sizzling in the bottom of the jar as it melts, which only takes a couple of minutes.  

Once the margarine melts, the onions go in.  Cut them into 1/2" pieces, and drop them in.  A few pulses of the "stir" button breaks them up a bit more and distributes the butter.

The lentils are added, with some of the Queens delicious and healthful homemade stock that she put away last spring, and seasonings over which Queen G has complete control! She used Tony Cachere's Lite:  Nothing unhealthy in this bowl!  

After about 30 minutes cooking and a few "stirs", the soup was just the way the Queen likes it: rich, with a bit of spice, and recognizable lentils.  The stirring process broke them up enough to make the soup creamy, but no so much that the soup was smooth.  If one prefers smooth soup, a few whirls in the "blend" mode and that's what they'd have!

The soup turned out delicious!  It made about 4 cups of soup, and since that was the main part of Queen G's meal, she had 2 cups for dinner, and saved 2 cups for lunch the next day. It was just as good the next day, and the machine makes it so easy, she could see herself making several batches of different soups on Sunday to have a week's worth of lunches at the ready! Next on her list of recipes to try:  Asparagus and Leek Soup, and Cream of Broccolli.  Don't think it only makes cream soups, however!  There are recipes for Pasta e Fagioli, and Chicken Noodle, too;  the texture of the soup is all according to the order in which you add the ingredients and when you blend the "base".

Queen Ginger is going to give the Cuisinart® Blend and Cook® Soupmaker 4 lipsticks!  While it certainly is an appliance once could survive without, it does make it easy to take control over your own nutritional destiny.  It's easy to use, easy to clean, and does what the package says it will do!


mrs. miss alaineus said...

we had soup made with something like one of these for two weeks of costco free lunch- it was delicious. does yours make ice cream too?


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Sounds like a good device.

Beth said...

I didn't know there WAS such a thing! I love kitchen gadgets, but just don't have the room for a lot.

I'm on a soup kick lately. I've been looking for good recipes, and I love making them in the crock pot. One of my favorites is black bean soup, and I have one of those stick mixers to blend some of the beans to make it thicker. Very handy!

Wonder Man said...

I agree with Bucko


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