Taste test: bean soups

Serving size One cup, two ounces One cup One cup One-third cup
Calories 90 130 170 150
Fat/Fiber 0g / 5g .5g / 7g 1.5g / 8g 0g / 5g
Sugars/Sodium 2g / 490mg 2g / 680mg 2g / 520mg 5g / 690mg
Carbs/Protein 16g / 6g 27g / 9g 30g / 9g 27g / 8g


When the temperature dips just a few degrees, Floridians start wearing sweaters and warming soup on the stove. One way to get a hearty dish on the table is to use a soup starter with dry ingredients. We started with bean soup mixes and added the water and broths, according to package directions, to see how they would stand up to homemade or canned soups.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(of of 100)
Lysander's

Traditional

Bean 79
Nueva Cocina Red Bean 55Archer Farms Southwestern Fiesta Bean 54Alessi Sicilian Lentil Soup 54
Judges'

comments
Firm beans and chunky textures made this soup the favorite among our judges. "It tastes like Mom made it," said one. "It's very homemade with good ham flavor." A couple said the soup was a bit salty, but not overwhelmingly so. "It's full of color, Latin sass and flavor. " said another. "Yes, Yes, Yes!" he added.Red and green pepper gave this soup a nice, deep red/brown color. It got kudos: "Although it needs Tabasco and a big scoop of rice, it's almost a true black bean soup," one said. Another didn't agree, calling it "a poor attempt at black bean soup." Three judges said the soup, which had mostly pinto beans, was heavy on cumin. Panelists compared this soup to an Asian Thai curry, saying the dish reminded them more of a pumpkin soup. "It kind of burns the back of my throat," said one judge. "It looks like pasta fagioli and tastes pretty good," said one judge. "It's nice and thick."

Calling this a bean soup was a bit of stretch, said panelists. That said, they enjoyed the dish. "It's more of an Italian style dish with orecchiette pasta and lentils with a dominant carrot flavor," said one. "It also has an Italian sausage flavor." Another said, "I think it would be wonderful over a baked potato."

Would

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.19 for a 10-ounce bag from Publix$2.50 for a 6-ounce bag from Publix.$3.99 for a 6.7-ounce box from Target.$2.99 for a 6-ounce bag from Publix.


Also Sampled: Bear Creek Navy Bean ($3.50 for a 10.7-ounce bag from Publix, 38 points); Vigo Spanish Bean ($2.49 for a 6-ounce bag from Sweetbay, 20 points); Hurst Family Harvest Homestyle Tri-Bean Soup ($2.99 for a 12-ounce bag from Publix, 45 points); and Campbell's Golden Lentil with Madras Curry ($2.99 for a 14-ounce pouch from Publix, 34 points).

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor; John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to jkeeler@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to food.tampabay.com.

Taste test: bean soups 11/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 3:30am]

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