Though I could easily complain that Pacific Foods, maker of various milk alternatives, isn't exclusively dairy-free … I will instead be grateful that they are one of the few companies that makes some rich and creamy soups sans dairy. In fact, they have four varieties to choose from (each in those generously sized 32oz containers) … three of which I won't hesitate to buy again. The fourth … well, it wasn't a fit for my family. Read on for my brief reviews on these four meal-worthy soups:
Pacific Foods Natural Spicy Black Bean Soup – This soup came in quite handy on a busy day when preparing lunch hadn’t even occurred to me. Fortunately, heat and serve is right up my husband’s alley when he is reaching that grumpy hunger stage, so he managed to prepare a bowl for himself in an instant. As for the taste, he certainly approved, and was in a much better mood following a nice bowl of this.
I took a little more time to prep my bowl, since I wasn’t quite as ravenous. This is a purely smooth and silky soup, not a bean or veggie chunk to be found. I loved the consistency actually; it was like a light cream rather than a starchy thick soup. But, I can never leave well enough alone. I sautéed three sweet carrots in 1 teaspoon of oil, then added the soup to heat, and served it up with some chopped avocado. The combination was delightful …
The soup on its own had a wonderful taste and just the right amount of flavor in terms of heat, spices, and salt. Nothing was over the top, and it all melded rather nicely. There was just one note that kept tasting “off” to me. It was mostly in the aftertaste, so it didn’t deter me from devouring the bowl. Nonetheless, it left me curious, so I checked the ingredients and finally spotted the culprit … cilantro paste. Yes, I am one of those cilantro supertasters who generally dislike it. Cilantro fans will find this soup spot on, but luckily, the cilantro is far enough down the ingredient list that even most “cilantro tastes like soap” people (such as me) will enjoy it. I will purchase this soup again either for a quick lunch, or as a recipe starter … it has great potential!
Pacific Foods Natural Cashew Carrot Ginger Soup – Of all the dairy-free products from Pacific Foods, this was the one I was most excited to trial. The title holds three of my favorite foods, though I had never thought to bring them all together with such intensity. The bright orange hue (much more cheerful than what you see on the box) and the bold flavors were just what my senses had been longing for.
That said … this soup is not for the ginger averse. The heat from the ginger alone is enough to warm up this soup without even placing it atop the stove! If you have ever tasted a truly intense ginger tea (like Yogi Ginger Tea … which I drink almost daily) then you can expect a similar ginger punch from this soup, but with the added compliments of the sweet carrots and cashews.
Naturally “spicy,” rich, and a touch sweet, this slightly thick yet smooth soup was a true winner in my book. If I could change one thing, it would be to take down the sweetener a notch (they add some evaporated cane juice). I felt it masked some of the natural sweetness from the cashews and carrots, and made it taste a bit more indulgent than a lunchtime meal. I think in the future I may serve this soup atop brown rice with some cooked greens mixed in for a more well-rounded meal. Other than that, it was simply perfect as is … particularly on a cold and snowy day.
Pacific Foods Natural Curried Red Lentil Soup – Since my husband isn’t a fan of Indian curry, I had this soup all to myself, and I wasn’t a bit disappointed. Though it was rather thick when poured, it thinned to a very smooth and creamy soup once heated with a wonderfully inviting warm sunshine hue …
I found the Curried Red Lentil to be more filling than your average soup, and wasn’t as tempted to throw in more ingredients – it was pretty tasty on its own. In fact, I was surprised by how spot-on the flavor is. All of the ingredients seem to work harmoniously to create a somewhat rich curry flavor, with a nice kick of spice in the aftertaste – you know, that slightly spicy aftershock that causes you to quickly return the spoon to the bowl for another taste, and another, and another, until you have devoured the entire bowl in roughly 60 seconds.
Anyone who remotely likes curry will probably like this blend, but those who are turmeric timid, may want to stick to the other creamy, dairy-free soups from Pacific. Also, unlike so many Indian-inspired foods, this soup is not vegetarian, it does contain chicken broth in the base. Once again, I was a bit bummed that they do use a bit of sweetener (evaporated cane juice), as I like to keep my meals savory, but in this case, I do concur that it may be an essential ingredient to achieve flavor perfection.
Pacific Foods Organic Butternut Squash Soup – Sporting a brilliant and enticing yellow-orange hue, with a rich and silky texture, it was a shame that this soup just didn't hit the mark with my family. The three other creamy dairy-free soups from Pacific will easily find their way into my shopping cart again, but this one will have to wait for the next consumer who wanders down the natural food aisle.
My husband wouldn't even taste-test the soup as the very idea of store-bought winter squash soup sends him running to the nearest fast food restaurant. I was hesitant for a couple of reasons – I'm not a fan of soymilk based soups since we try to keep our soy consumption at a modest level, and butternut soup tends to be too sweet for my tastes. And alas, this one was. Unlike the other Pacific creamy soups, this flavor lacked in spice (for my tastes) but not in sugar.
After a few solo tastes, I decided to spice it up a bit with another pinch of salt (this was not the low sodium variety mind you), a good dash of ground ginger, and a few twists of the pepper grinder. I also braised some greens and added them to the soup. I thought the contrasting bitterness of the greens would be complimentary, and they were.
In the end, this lunch ended up better, pretty good in fact, but still not fantastic. Since I like my convenience ready to go, I will stick with the other creamy soups from Pacific, which I thought were awesome. If you are generally a fan of butternut squash soup, then I do recommend giving this one a try, particularly since it is organic and sports some nice easy-to-read ingredients.
This is a third party review by Alisa Fleming, author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide & Cookbook (also available as an eBook). For more information and to purchase this product, visit the Pacific Foods website. All of the Pacific Foods Soups are also available on Amazon for a discount.