Manual vs Automatic Soup Making

If you make a lot of soup at home, or plan to do so in the future, you’ve probably seen automatic soup makers and larger soup kettles in the stores and wondered if they’re for you.

The answer isn’t clear cut, so today let’s dive into what you might want to give some thought to in considering which path you might like to pursue.

Traditional ‘Manual’ Soup Making

By manual soup making, we’re talking about the preparation of ingredients by hand, and cooking them together in a suitable soup pan.

In that sense, the recipe you’re following is somewhat irrelevant, it’s the methodology that varies in putting it all together and cooking it up.

For effective traditional soup making, you’ll need a good set of chopping boards and kitchen knives, so that you can make easy work of the preparation of raw foods. Chopping to the appropriate size for cooking is clearly easier when you’re working with sharp knives and have plenty of chopping shape available.

In other words, as with all cooking, being prepared, having access to the right tools and having clear work areas really helps before you start making soups.

‘Automatic’ Soup Makers

On the other hand, you can now buy the gadgets to to the heavy lifting when cooking soup. Admittedly, while they all broadly make similar claims about making soup for you, what they do and how effectively they do it does vary considerably between the different soup makers on the market.

There are plenty of websites out there to help you with getting the best soup maker deals, but remember it’s more about getting the machine that carries out all the functions you’re looking for than the price tag. Of course, we all have budgets to stick to, but if you can’t stretch to the model you need, it’s probably worth considering carefully whether it’s worth buying an electronic soup kettle in the first place.

Which Is Better For Results?

All too often, gadgets arrive in stores making outlandish claims about how amazing they are, and the reality isn’t quite so magical.

Soup is something that when it’s really good, it is very impressive. Poor soups can be rather unpalatable too at the other end of the spectrum. While it’s true to say that some automatic soup makers are much better than others, it’s also true to say that there’s a bigger differentiator at play.

Buying good ingredients can make the biggest difference, especially when it comes to fresh ingredients. Vegetables are greatest when they’re new, although soups can also be used to whizz up older produce rather than wasting it by throwing it away.

Clearly, fresh meats and vegetables will get better results than those at the limits of their life in terms of remaining edible. While we’d never suggest using ingredients that are no longer fit for consumption, trying different soup recipes with older items will help you to get a feel for what works best and which soup types you enjoy most, as well as those that you’re not so keen on!

Ultimately, the balance between using a soup maker or doing everything by hand will come down to personal preference. If time is tight, gadgets can relieve some pressure, but at the same time can’t fully replace the creativity of human hands.

Icolyn Smith, Oxford Hero

The warmth of humanity is always inspiring, and the story of Icolyn Smith is up there with one of the best. In the following video, ITV’s coverage of the Pride of Britain Awards in 2018 shone a spotlight on thirty years of service to the community of Oxford.

Already having offered her love to the local people as part of the area’s community caring body, her decades of generosity really began. Not just giving her time to help feed those in need in the soup kitchen, this incredible lady also used her own pension to start feeding the homeless residents of the city streets.

See Icolyn’s remarkable contributions here…

What To Look For In A Soup Pan?

One of the most important kitchen appliances that you need to buy is a soup pan. You can either purchase an expensive metal one made out of cast iron that has a thick and heavy lid, or a plain plastic or paper one. The first two types are more expensive than the later one. While soup pots do make cooking soups faster and easier, there are some downsides that you should know about before buying one.

The first consideration with soup pots comes from their construction. Cast iron is the priciest material you can get for your vessel, but also the most durable. It will last forever if properly taken care of, and it’s very easy to clean. Aluminium is also a great material for a pan because it’s lightweight, cheap and easily cleaned.

A second point relating to soup pan materials comes down to a more personal thing: preference. Some people like the heavy duty, non-stick feeling of stainless steel handles, while others like the soft touch of aluminium. If you have allergies or pets, you may be able to live with non-stick materials better. Also, the smaller size of some pots means that they will take up less space, which means you won’t have to sacrifice interior space of cupboards in your kitchen. All in all, you can choose how you want to handle your pots based on your own preferences.

A third pro or con is the size of the opening of the pot. Soup pots have different openings, the most common being an L style with a long neck. This type has the widest opening and is the best pot to use if you want to be able to steam and stir your soup right away. Larger pots may be able to accommodate bigger soups and be harder to steam, so take that into consideration when choosing the size of your soup pot.

A final consideration for material is the material used for the handles. There are two main types: stainless steel and aluminium base. I personally prefer stainless steel for its non-stick feel. I also appreciate the fact that I do not need to worry about leaching or rusting from the aluminium base. However, the aluminium base is the easiest to clean and more durable.

When shopping for soup pots or other cooking devices, keep these things in mind. They will help you narrow down your choices so that you can make the best decision for your needs. Also, keep in mind that there are a few different sizes and openings, so be sure to choose one that best suits your needs. At the end of the day, you want to choose something you will love using so figure out what will work for you!