Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pacific Foods White Bean and Bacon Soup from a Can

I had a bit of oral surgery last weekend (kids - don't bite your nails and chew on pencils. Or rip packages open with your teeth. Because apparently all that "trauma" can wear your teeth away under your gums, where you'll never suspect until one day, boom, nothing left, and then you need a bone graft, and that involves cutting your gums open and stitching them back on, and it's not much fun), so I was eating lots and lots of soup. Rather stupidly, I planned ahead by buying canned soup instead of making a batch of my own and freezing it. I say stupidly, because in the process, I learned that canned soup is pretty gross. All those preservatives leave a distinct trace in the flavor, and the consistency tends to be rather glue-like. But of all the soups I ate, one stood out as distinctly better than the rest - Pacific Foods brand organic Savory White Bean with Smoked Bacon.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the color scheme on the can.

(If you're wondering, some of the others were Amy's Thai Coconut Soup, which I expected to be a somewhat bland Tom Kha Kai, and essentially was, but that was a lot worse than I expected, Wolfgang Puck's Organic Old Fashioned Potato - especially glue like, and unpleasantly slimy, and Campbell's Hearty Beef Barley - their beef broth tastes like murder. That's the only way I can describe it. And I love meat.)

I knew fairly quickly that this soup was different, because when I was heating it up, it actually smelled good. Mostly like bacon, but with some good hearty vegetable notes as well. Also, the consistency was less slimy than the other soups I'd tried, which gave me hope.

Apologies for the horrible lighting, but I was on a lot of painkillers, so cut me a break.

As for the taste - well, it does have a hint of artificial, preservative-y flavor. Not nearly as aggressive as the other canned soups on the market, but it's definitely there. However, the vegetables actually look like a person chopped them instead of a machine. Probably it was just a more clever machine, but still, it's gratifying to eat vegetables that actually look and taste like vegetables. The beans and carrots were firm, not overcooked, and much more flavorful than expected. I was disappointed, however, by the lack of actual pieces of bacon in the soup. This also made me somewhat suspicious, because despite the conspicuous absence of our beloved food, there was a distinct flavor of smoky pork in the broth. It was nice - not overwhelming, and a nice compliment to the beans. 

While it wasn't bad, especially as far as canned foods go, more than anything else, it made me want to try my hand at making my own. 

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