New Soup Equipment Holds Great Potential for Improving 'Freshness'
Now, it looks like a change is coming and perhaps a real challenge to the larger corporate food retail brands that list soup as a 'fresh' offering.
An array of new Soup Making Equipment has been launched into the foodservice equipment market and food specialists are taking note. Soup has long been a main-stay for foodservice operators and the production processes are fairly standard. The larger retailers like Pret, EAT and Itsu, arrange to have their soup made by other suppliers. Often it is made well in advance, refrigerated and stored before it is released into the chilled food supply chain. The shelf-life of these products is often calculated in weeks if not months. When it does arrive at the shop, it will once again go through a process of storage before it is reheated and placed in a hot food display cabinet. This means that the soup customers eat is anything but 'fresh'.
A group of food innovators working with the Foodservice Network, believes that this can be greatly improved upon with the new equipment now available. Although not designed for mass-production, one of the most impressive innovations in foodservice equipment comes from Roboqbo, an Italian engineering firm located in Bologna, Italy. We believe that the Bluechef concept, or something very similar, is likely to revolutionise the way soup is prepared and cooked in Food Retail outlets across the globe. Why is Robooqbo's BlueChef so revolutionary and are there other providers of similar types of equipment?
Although the making of a quantity of soup is a fairly straightforward process involving preparation and cooking, it does often lead to a stage at which a quantity, oftentimes a large quantity, is kept or stored for reheating at a later date. This leads to a loss of quality and a degradation of the essential nutrients. Depending on how long this holding period lasts, the soup product can lose most if not all of its nutritional value. What if it were possible to do away with the holding stage altogether? What if the way we make soup, even in a commercial setting, were to follow the model of making just enough or that of small batches, thus ensuring that the soup product itself never needs to be stored.
This is effectively what food innovators working with the Foodservice Network are hoping to make possible. Carl Sheen, one of the lead developers of the project, sums up their mission: "we're wanting to bring true freshness back to the lunch trade. For far too long, a number of major companies have benefited from using credentials they don't really deserve. Much of the food sold on the high street and marketed as 'fresh' is really anything but. Our research found that many of these so-called 'fresh' soups, for instance, have a shelf life of several months or more and have gone through multiple stages of reheating. Where is the freshness? We want to develop a concept that will work for all and then we will give it away. We want a standardised process that provides a commercial solution for guaranteeing a truly fresh and high quality soup, always."
The Roboqbo BlueChef QR3.5 is a robust machine and meant for commercial production, but there are a plethora of non-commercial soup makers entering the market...
The equipment they are using for this project is the, as yet unmodified, Roboqbo BlueChef QR3.5. This equipment surprisingly manages to combine all the advantages of a cutter blender, liquidiser, and innovative cooking mixer function all in one. Using the equipment to make soup has been fascinating as it streamlines the production process and allows everything to be done in one piece of equipment. For more complicated soups where the steps might be drawn out, you can still use the equipment to cook, mix and homogenise to the degree required.
One of the main advantages of working with the BlueChef is the integration of the cooking function with cutting, mixing and stirring. Particularly important in making soup, you can control and adjust the temperature throughout the various stages and the equipment responds immediately. Its adaptability and durability make it one of the most impressive pieces of innovative foodservice equipment we have seen. You can use any function, even combining them, in a rapid and intuitive manner. Use for simple chopping, an emulsion, dough, cold cream, liquid or extremely dense baby food.
Senior Management at many of the leading Food Retail companies know that soup is popular part of the lunch meal and a key menu item. At home, this is equally true and non-commercial soup making machines are also making their way into the family kitchen....
At home, we typically prepare our favourite soup by chopping and cooking our ingredients in a saucepan. We then use a hand-held blender and hope that the hot soup doesn't spill as we blend it. Similar to the BlueChef, these new Soup Machines allow you to create your soup using only one piece of equipment. They have both blending and heating capability built in. Not as advanced as the BlueChef, they do nonetheless allow you to make a fresh soup in minutes without much fuss. Non-Commercial Soup Makers currently come in three types.
Using, for instance, the Morphy Richards Saute and Soup Maker, you can make a soup in three easy steps. You begin by prepping your ingredients. You then cook your ingredients in the stock and when ready, use the blender function to finish preparing your soup just the way you like it.
Using a blender style soup maker (a blender with heating elements built to the bottom of the removable blender jug), you begin by preparing and chopping your ingredients according to your recipe. You then place them in the soup maker and choose either the smooth or chunky setting depending on your taste (this feature is not available on all machines). It then chops your ingredients accordingly. When ready, you add stock or water and continue to cook your soup in the soup maker until ready. This can be a very quick process with a soup ready to serve in minutes.
The last type of Non-Commercial soup maker is the kettle style soup maker. Shaped like a big electric kettle with heating elements at the bottom of the cooking pan and a suspended blade attached to the cover. When shut, the spinning arm rotates the blades near the center of the jug unlike the blender style soup maker that has its blades at the bottom.
Whether in a commercial or non-commercial setting, the making of soup is set to change and on this occasion, it seems that the cause for 'freshness' might actually triumph.