Making your own soup might sound elaborate, but armed with a soup maker or blender it becomes a simple process – throwing ingredients into a single pot and pressing a button is about as straightforward as it gets, even for the most time-strapped kitchen dodgers.
Saving on time is just the start of it, as creating your own concoctions also affords opportunity to boost both your budget and wellbeing with nourishing meals. Plan ahead and it’s a great way to batch cook healthy lunches, or if life isn’t quite as organised then it’s a great way to use up leftovers and random fridge finds instead of letting them go to waste.
Much like the many incarnations of soup, the models on the market range from basic through to more complex affairs. As well as different programmes, some include additional options that enable them to be used for functions such as crushing ice, dependent on their power output and dimensions.
How we test
The best soup maker to opt for is the one that best suits your lifestyle – this might sound obvious, but if you have a small kitchen then buying a big powerful model over a compact piece of kit isn’t going to fit the bill. Likewise, if you want to invest in multifunctional kitchenware, then a single-function item is unlikely to be the one for you.
We tested all our models based on criteria we thought would be likely to influence consumers’ needs. As well as functionality (how well the unit operated to create soup), we took into consideration size, noise (often but not always related to power), and how easy the machine was to clean. We also assessed looks, design, and whether it had extra functions beyond soup making.
Lakeland Touchscreen Soup Maker
£129.99 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Effortless soup making
Key specs – Capacity: 1.4 litre working capacity for hot liquids, 1.75 litre for cold; Dimensions: 44cm x 24cm x 19cm; Power: 500W; Features: 4 automatic settings (with option to input own settings), blender function, ice crusher function, touchscreen LED control panel; Colour options: 1
As one of the most expensive of all the self-described soup maker machines, this product set our hopes high – it’s a high-tech piece of kit, featuring a base unit with an LED touchscreen control panel, four pre-set timed programmes, and blender and ice crusher functions.
This was the first model that we tested, with a vegetable chickpea soup on the chunky setting. Starting by placing all the chopped raw ingredients in the jug, all that was required was to simply select the programme, then let the machine quietly hum away. Some 30 minutes later and alerted by the countdown timer (if you don’t hear this, the “keep warm” option kicks in for 20 minutes, with the machine then going into standby mode for a further 10, before switching itself off if no buttons are pressed), the end result was piping hot soup, near-perfect apart from a minor quibble that some chunks were smaller than others.
Not quite believing that a first-time soup maker experience could be so good, we tried again with the tomato soup recipe from the instruction booklet, this time on the smooth setting, and were equally impressed. If you did want to vary temperature and cooking time though, there’s also the option to input your own settings to suit personal taste.
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It’s worth nothing that while the machine is large, it also boasts a non-stick base plate, which allows for a top temperature setting of 100ºC (tip – don’t do what we did and merrily clasp the heavy glass jug with both hands, use the handle instead!), and a simple-to-use five-minute auto-clean function.
BuyCuisinart SSB3U Soup Maker Plus
£139.99, John Lewis
Best for: Those who like following recipes
Key specs – Capacity: 1.4 litre working capacity for hot liquids, 1.75 litre for cold; Dimensions: 46cm x 23cm x 20cm; Power: 500W; Features: 3 heat settings, 4 speed options, blender function, ice crusher function; Colour options: 1
Standing at roughly the same size as the Lakeland soup maker and on a similarly proportioned base unit, this came in as our close second, thanks to a comparable set-up with high standard performance.
The concept is much the same – place pre-chopped raw ingredients in the jug, while the heated plate gets to work – though with this machine, there are no pre-set programmes where you can just press a button and come back to freshly made soup. Instead, what you do have is the choice of three heat settings (sauté, high or simmer) to run for a time of your choosing.
Better cooks than us would argue this gives greater control over the end result, but we found – using the sweet potato and red pepper soup recipe provided – that being summoned to the otherwise quiet machine by the beep after each step to then input the next, was somewhat arduous and took around an hour in total.
That said, the soup was as delicious as you’d expect from a multi-step process – the “slow stir” gentle mixing setting in particular comes into its own if you prefer a more rustic consistency (there are also recipes for risotto, chutney and jam using this function), and there’s also options for blending and ice crushing.
The only minor downsides worth noting are the wash-by-hand caveat (though the jug is easy to clean), and the fact that after some puzzlement, we finally figured out that the blend speed of hot fluids is limited to the first two settings only.
BuyMorphy Richards 501021 Compact Soup Maker
£37.99, John Lewis
Best for: Compact kitchens
Key specs – Capacity: 1 litre; Dimensions: 22cm x 15cm x 22cm; Power: 900W; Features: 4 settings, blender function; Colour options: 1
Billed as the solution for small families or solo dwellers, this soup maker has the smallest capacity of all the machines we tested, with a one-litre jug serving up roughly two large portions.
There’s no base unit with this machine, but rather what you do get is something akin to a kettle, with the removable lid featuring an integrated blade at the end of a metal prong. After placing chopped raw ingredients in the main body of the machine, you then fix the lid in place and select either “chunky” or “smooth” for a programme that delivers soup in around 20 minutes.
We tested leek and potato soup on the chunky setting, and chunky it was – if cooking root veg, make sure that you cube them small enough, as ours were a little underdone through our own lack of veg prep skills. You can choose to blend further with the “blend” function should you wish, and there’s also a “juice” function if you’re aiming to up your fruit intake as well as your vegetable consumption.
It’s basic, but it works well and is quiet to boot – as it’s not dishwasher proof, after a few attempts we found the best way to clean it was to leave the inside to soak and put the lid back on to allow the blade to soak also, before then washing as normal.
BuySalter 1.6L Electric Soup Maker Jug
£47.99 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Large families
Key specs – Capacity: 1.6 litre; Dimensions: 37cm x 22cm x 22cm; Power: 1050W; Features: 3 settings, auto-clean function; Colour options: 1
At the other end of the spectrum sits the largest capacity soup maker we tested – though its 1.6 litres compared to the standard 1.4 litres might not seem like a huge leap, when it comes to preparing a week’s worth of lunches it can make all the difference.
This machine also functions much like a kettle, with the stainless steel jug taking the chopped raw ingredients, before the bladed lid then being added. There are three settings to choose from: “smooth” (25 – 30 minutes), “chunky” (30 minutes), with a third option to blend further for consistency.
Though this soup maker’s size and stainless steel finish make it feel a little like a piece of industrial catering equipment, it’s none the worse for it. It did exactly what it said on the tin when we put it to the test and was quiet and simple to use.
It also boasts an auto memory function, which allows more ingredients to be added to the soup maker mid-cycle while remembering where the setting was up to. Amazingly for such a reasonably priced product, it also has an auto-clean function, albeit one that somewhat confusingly doesn’t allow for detergent to be used (it works to rinse out the inside, with further washing up-based cleaning to be carried out over the kitchen sink if necessary afterwards).
BuyVonShef Multifunctional Digital Soup Maker
Best for: Elegance on a budget
Key specs – Capacity: 1.4 litre working capacity for hot liquids, 1.75 litre for cold; Dimensions: 25cm x 16cm x 35cm; Power: 900W; Features: 4 settings, blender function; Colour options: 1
This classy product was the final kettle-type soup maker we tested – and though it was also the cheapest, if we hadn’t known we would have assumed its weighty glass jug would have placed it far beyond its price tag.
Determined not to be swayed by looks over substance, we set to work with one of the recipes in the booklet provided with the machine. Though noticeably different in that it outlined the need to fry onions and garlic first, before then adding them to the soup maker, we chose to ignore these instructions in favour of speed – then wished we hadn’t, with an end result of soup featuring “caramelised” onions.
If you don’t want to get out the frying pan, then pour a glug of oil in the bottom of the jug first, followed by chopped veg – as we did, for round two – to avoid similar mishaps. Opt for the “chunky” (30 minutes) or the “smooth” setting (25 – 30 minutes), and you can then select “blend” or “pulse” to achieve the texture you want.
The glass jug makes this soup maker feel expensive, but on a practical note it also means you can see how the soup is progressing, which on the other kettle-type soup makers we tested, simply isn’t possible. It’s a bit more of a faff to use – as well as the onion-frying obstacle to get round, there’s also the non-dishwasher safe status to take into account – but for the price point and a pleasingly weighty in-hand feel, it’s a small price to pay for a soup maker with style.
BuyNutribullet RX Blender Soup Maker
£119, John Lewis
Best for: Maximum nutrition
Key specs – Capacity: 0.352 litre short cup, 1.278 litre oversized cup, 1 litre SouperBlast pitcher with lid; Dimensions: 44cm x 16cm x 44cm; Power: 1700W; Features: “Souperblast” mode, dishwasher safe; Colour options: 1
Beloved by health buffs for its ability to blitz fruit and veggies into their most absorptive state, the Nutribullet blender also comes as an RX model, which boasts a “Souperblast” soup-making mode in addition to its function as a blender. This seven-minute programme runs the high-speed blender through three cycles, heating the resultant liquid inside by way of the friction of the rotating blades.
We tested with a simple vegetable soup, adding roughly chopped raw carrot, coriander, cold water and a crumbled stock cube (all ingredients must be room temperature to start) into the vented jug attachment. The “Souperblast” mode, which can also be used to make hot drinks, kicks in after the machine is switched on and the “G” button held down so that the light turns from green to red.
Because the model is all pre-programmed, you can press the button and walk away as it’s ridiculously fast, and easy to use – though this also means there’s no allowing for personal preference when it comes to texture.
As expected from a machine designed to break down food to the nth degree, the resultant soup was silky smooth. It also didn’t come out as hot as the other soups we made, instead being dispensed at the optimum temperature (i.e. warm as though it had been left to cool a while) for nutrition absorption.
Plus points include its sleek design, entirely dishwasher-safe components and additional ice crushing function – protein lovers will also be delighted to hear you can use the blender to create nut butters, too.
BuyVitamix E310 Explorian Blender
£349, John Lewis
Best for: Serious chefs
Key specs – Capacity: 1.4 litre; Dimensions: 46cm x 20cm x 28cm; Power: 1000-1200W; Features: 10 speeds, auto-clean function; Colour options: 1
Widely acknowledged as the daddy of all blenders, the Vitamix comes with a soup-making function that works on the same heating-through-friction principle as the Nutribullet. All ingredients are placed in the jug, before the user manually increases the speed slowly up to the highest setting before leaving it running for a further six minutes.
We tested the carrot and coriander soup once more (blanching is suggested but we didn’t find it necessary). Again, the soup came out silky smooth with no option to create texture, but this time hotter than the Nutribullet – though we had to leave the kitchen at the end to let it cool in any case, as our eardrums were ringing from the sheer noise of the machine. It is LOUD! Technically you could walk away for those six minutes after manually increasing the speed, but we were hesitant as there’s no timer function indicating the end of the cycle (we set our phone instead).
Be aware that the Vitamix is also a beast when it comes to size and weight, due to its large base unit – this is a kitchen heavyweight in more ways than one. As well as blending, it can also function as a great food prep item to help chop, shred and grate, in addition to also crushing ice and creating nut butters.
Impressively, the Vitamix is both dishwasher-proof and also comes with an auto-clean function (handy, but only if your neighbours aren’t within earshot).
BuyMagimix Power Blender
£199.99, John Lewis
Best for: Quiet style
Key specs – Capacity: 1.8 litre; Dimensions: 41cm x 17cm x 17cm; Power: 1300W; Features: 5 programmes, Thermoproof glass, auto-clean function; Colour options: 4
If the Vitamix is the daddy of kitchen blenders, then the Magimix is surely the maman – this French-designed machine is a stylish classic and a great all-rounder, with the added bonus of being Quiet Mark approved.
Unsure what to expect after the roar of the Vitamix, when we came to test the machine we found that although it wasn’t silent, it was impressively quiet relative to its 1300W power. The Magimix offers a manual function, or you can opt for one of the five pre-set timed programmes (clean, ice, smoothie, soups, and desserts), each of which have varying cycles of speed and time to suit the end product.
The soup cycle doesn’t make soup per se, but rather it’s a pre-set blender cycle of a certain length of time and intensity, programmed for use with pre-cooked ingredients that are blended to produce soup. It’s also worth noting that the measuring cap has to be left loose on the lid to allow steam to escape and avoid a soup volcano eruption.
After testing, we can easily forgive this though, especially seeing as it’s such a delight to have in the kitchen – the heat-resistant glass makes for a pleasingly weighty jug attachment that looks lovely and feels solid to hold, while the neat base unit takes up no more space than is necessary.
If you want a chunky texture, you can use the pulse function, along with the built-in spatula to reach every last drop. In keeping with its stylish appearance, it’s dishwasher-safe, has an auto-clean function, and comes in four different colour options.
BuySwan Fearne By Swan 3 in 1 Stick Blender
Best for: Those on a budget
Key specs – Capacity: N/A; Dimensions: 42cm x 7cm x 7cm; Power: 800W; Features: Dual speed controls with variable speed options, detachable parts; Colour options: 4
And finally, if you’re short on space, then a stick blender makes creating soup a cinch while taking up minimum room in the cupboard.
First things first for the cynics – yes, this offering is from a celebrity collaboration range (with television and radio presenter, and now cookbook author Fearne Cotton), but much like its attached celebrity, it’s hardworking and multifaceted.
The blender is one of three attachments – the others being a surprisingly capacious 500ml chopper, and a balloon whisk – that comes with the kit, as well as a beaker for blending in if needed.
Arguably the ability to blend soup in a pan doesn’t really quantify it as a soup maker per se, but then if you already have said pan and want to increase your kitchen function threefold with a quality inexpensive item, you can’t go far wrong parting with your cash for this product.
Using a stick blender gives control over texture and consistency (this one is low noise to boot), and is a reliably efficient way to achieve the exact result you want. We were particularly impressed with the weighty feel and the power of the motor, as well as the dual speed control option. It’s easy to clean, looks great, comes in four colours and is dishwasher-safe – for those watching the pennies in the new year as well as their veggie intake, it’s a great quality option.
This article has been updated. It was originally published in January 2019.
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