Sunday, 6 June 2010

New Covent Garden Summer Soups


Who in their right mind wants to eat soup in the summer ?! That was my first thought when I was approached to try out New Covent Garden's new range of summertime soups. Admittedly, the great British summer can sometimes seem more like autumn or spring but I want to be eating barbecues, picnics, fresh fruit salads ... soup isn't really up there on my wishlist.





But I decided to see what was on offer and I was pleasantly surprised. I thought to myself, summer soup - let me guess. Gazpacho. Well yes, there is Gazpacho. There's even an intriguing Melon Gazpacho as Soup of the Month : "Cantaloupe and Honeydew melons blended with cucumber and tomatoes". But there are also some really different and tasty-sounding soups to try that really do sound appealing on a hot summer's day.


New Covent Garden's range of light and refreshing summer soups contains five varieties, two brand new soups – Sunshine Yellow Tomato and Spicy Sweetcorn - and three refreshed favourites from last year – Pea & Mint, Gazpacho and Summer Vegetable. New Covent Garden always amaze me with the totally different soups they come up with - double Brownie points for whoever came up with yellow tomato soup !

But however nice they sound or look in the pack, the proof of the pudding is in the eating so what are they actually like ? I've been sampling them so here are my opinions.

Pea & Mint : If you like minted peas, you'll love this because it tastes the same as eating a plateful of fresh minted peas. The only time I really eat mint is as mint sauce so I kept thinking how nice this would taste with a bit of roast lamb added to the mix ! It can be eaten hot or cold, so is a great option whatever the British summer can throw at us !

Gazpacho : The least surprising recipe so I wasn't expecting to be particularly dazzled by this one. Tomatoes, cucumbers, red and green peppers and a pinch of smoked paprika. I always thought gazpacho had to be eaten cold but the label says this can be enjoyed hot or cold. Lovely and refreshing cold, it tastes like a good, freshly-prepared, home-made gazpacho (without all the annoying chopping and blending).

Summer Vegetable : I wasn't actually sure what counts as summer veg so I checked the list of ingredients : potatoes, onions, broccoli, broad beans, courgettes, peas, spinach, green beans. If that sounds way too healthy, they've added a dollop of double cream and some mature cheddar cheese to make it creamy and luxurious. I could detect an intriguing backnote but couldn't work out what it was so back to the list of ingredients to investigate : mint, garlic, lemon thyme and cracked black pepper.

Sunshine Yellow Tomato : This one makes me think of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe for some reason ! It doesn't taste like normal red tomato soup so don't come to it expecting that - that may be down to the inclusion of carrots and butternut squash. It has a very slight chilli kick that is lovely if you're eating it warm.

Spicy Sweetcorn : Think mildly spicy, not tongue-on-fire heat ! I found this went great as a starter followed on by Mexican ribs and chilli-glazed steaks on the barbecue. The sweetness of the sweetcorn is refreshing in contrast to the spices.

I have to admit, I'm convinced - you don't have to scrub soup off the menu just because the temperatures start rising. The flavours are more subtle and refreshing than with the heartier winter soups and I love the fact that some of them can be eaten cold, so you have an instant light dinner or no-fuss lunch at work.

As with many of New Covent Garden's soups, these are seasonal varieties so get in quick if you want to give them a go because by the end of the summer, it'll be too late !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £1.99

available in store from late May until September

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