Soup is a flavored liquid made with meat, vegetables, and liquid. But, it could take a lot of time to make a flavorful one. Soup mixes are created to expedite this process. Almost all the ingredients needed to make a soup are pre-blended ahead of time. Thus, all you’ve got to do is either add some liquid or heat the soup mix. And, not only that it cuts the production time, but it’s also a convenient and portable way to consume food.
Soup mixes were introduced by the colonial travelers in the 19th century. Back then, they were still called pocket soups. Soup mix became extremely popular in the ancient times. It catered to the military, cowboy chuck wagons, covered wagon trains, home pantries, and more. Nevertheless, all of these soups are preserved in a variety of ways. While most of them are commercially prepared, some can also be homemade. Soup mixes are usually dehydrated, packaged, and frozen-treated.
Soup Mixes Trivia
- January is the National Soup Month while February 4th is National Homemade Soup Day.
- Campbell’s, one of the leading brands in soup mixes, changed their original label after the assistant general manager saw the Cornell University football team play against the University of Pennsylvania; he matched the new labels with Cornell University’s uniform color: red and white.
- Andy Warhol, a prominent American artist, painted the iconic Campbell’s soup cans in 1961 to commemorate his daily lunch for the past two decades.
- The most popular soup mix variety in the United States is chicken noodle soup.
- Crown Holdings, a can manufacturing company, is finishing up on its self-heating can technology, where it allows you to heat up the entire can of soup in two minutes by just pressing a single button.
Soup Mixes Buying Guide
While homemade and farmers’ market soup mixes are our best and healthiest option, it is understandable if we opt to buy from the big manufacturers. Red Bob’s Mill, Campbell’s, and Knorr’s are three of the top-selling brands of soup mixes. Some of their products are diet-friendly but it costs a lot more. Hence, here are some tips when you are buying a commercially prepared soup mix:
- Check out the sodium content. The product should have less than 500mg of sodium per serving. Or better yet, opt for no-salt-added, reduced-sodium, or low-sodium.
- Look for the bad stuff. Preservatives, additives, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated oils can weaken your heart tissues and can contribute to weight gain. I’m sure you don’t want that.
- As always, look for a product with the least amount of ingredients. In addition, make sure that these ingredients are easy to pronounce.
Soup Mixes Production & Farming in Texas
While you can most likely find soup mixes in convenience stores and large supermarkets such as H-E-B and Natural Grocers, the state of Texas also features countless numbers of artisan food vendors and restaurants that sell soup mixes in farmers’ markets, where you can be assured that the products are made with fresh, local, and mostly organic ingredients.
Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:
Soup mixes are indeed convenient; however, they most likely contain additives and chemicals for a lower cost and shelf-stable products. Hence, here are some additives that we found on some soup mix brands:
- MSG – Monosodium Glutamate is used to enhance the flavor of almost any product. It is the one responsible for creating that umami flavor. Although it is generally classified as safe to consume, it can cause headaches, flushing, palpitations, sweating, nausea, numbness, and weakness to some people. It allegedly can cause asthma, brain damages, and even cancer; however, these allegations remained controversial.
- Sodium – Although sodium is a natural food that balances our body fluids, it can cause harm when consumed past its RDA.
- Natural and artificial flavorings – These are usually chemically-formulated products that are used to intensify the flavors of the product. Although they are labeled as such due to its very small quantitative participation in the product, it’s always a better option if we stay away from these ingredients. For soup mixes, some of which come in the following names: disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium succinate, sodium phosphate, soy protein isolate, TBHQ, and alike.
- Dextrose and Maltodextrin – It is a type of sugar that acts as an artificial sweetener, food neutralizer, and a preservative. Too much consumption of this ingredient can lead to body fluid build-up and high blood sugar.
- Yeast extracts – These are added as a flavor enhancer and possesses the same side effects just like MSG. You may want to avoid products with these ingredients especially if you have blood pressure problems or sodium-related concerns.
Soup mixes are packaged in many ways. The commercially prepared ones can come in powder form that is sold in packets or styrofoam cups, where you just need to add water and steep it for a few minutes. The addition of dried noodles, along with powder seasonings, dehydrated meats, and vegetables are also common in instant soup mixes. It can also come in liquid form that just needs to be reheated; some of which are ready-to-eat, and some are condensed where water is usually added to lower its strength. Some soup mixes come in a concentrated paste form, like the Knorr’s Erbswurst, where the paste is rolled into a log and wrapped with aluminum foil. Other local producers and artisan food vendors usually package their specialty soup in mason jars.
Enjoying Soup Mixes
Soup mixes are usually prepared by boiling or heating the mixture in water. And just like any other soup, a cooked soup mix can be eaten using a soup spoon or by holding the bowl closer to your mouth before you slurp it. Soups make the perfect accompaniments or side dishes; however, it can also be a stand-alone meal, provided that you add more ingredients to it such as meat and vegetables. In addition, soup mixes also make a great sauce; just add less water than that of soup and add your favorite seasonings.
Store-bought soup mixes can last for about 18 to 24 months in a dry storage or pantry. When the soup mix is homemade, it should be kept in an airtight container or a mason jar; it could be stored in the pantry if there is no meat or perishable ingredients in it. Otherwise, it should be kept in the refrigerator and should be eaten in 5 to 7 days.
Make your own soup mixes:
It’s not only fun to make soup mixes at home but it’s also incredibly convenient and more affordable. Store the soup mixes in your pantry and just add water when you need it. Here’s a quick recipe of the popular Texas two-step soup mix that you can assemble in mason jars:
Yield: 1 pint or 8 servings
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp oregano leaves, dried
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 1 tsp onion flakes, dried
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- 46 g brown gravy mix
- 10-12 pcs tortilla chips, crushed coarsely
- 1 cup uncooked pasta, small to medium size
- In a small bowl, stir together chili powder, oregano, cumin, onion flakes, and garlic salt. Set aside.
- Layer the following ingredients into a wide-mouth mason jar: gravy mix, seasoning mixes from the small bowl, tortilla chips, and pasta. Cover and store accordingly. You can boil the soup mix in water when you’re ready to eat it, or you can add meat and vegetables by doing the next step.
- Sauté ½ lb ground beef in a large pan until the meat turns brown. Pour in the contents of a jar and add seven cups of water. Boil and add 1 small can of corn, bell peppers, and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Serve with freshly crushed tortilla chips, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and sour cream if desired.