What do you get when you marry a blender and a heating element? Answer: A Soup Maker.
Electric soup makers have become popular in recent years as a convenient way to prepare healthy homemade soups, with limited clean-up and none of the splashing involved with saucepans and immersion blenders. There are two basic designs: resembling either an electric kettle or a traditional upright blender. In the ‘kettle’ design, the heating element is at the bottom of the jug and the blender blades are fitted to a propeller shaft running down from the lid. The ‘blender’ design looks similar to the familiar ‘smoothie machine’ but includes a heating element at the base of the jug, beneath the cutters. Once loaded with ingredients, a typical soup maker takes between 20 and 30 minutes to complete the cooking cycle.
Most soup makers offer a ‘smooth’ or ‘chunky’ function, to allow you to choose the texture of your soup and many have digital features such as ‘delayed-start’ or ‘keep warm’. Others have a ‘saute’ setting allowing you to cook meat or caramelise onions before you add your other ingredients. A non-stick base-plate in the jug, for easier cleaning, and the ability to shave ice cubes are other useful options.
Advertised jug-sizes can be deceptive since they do not necessarily correspond to the heating capacity of the soup maker. For instance, the well-regarded Russell Hobbs 21480 machine, below, can blend 1.75 L of cold ingredients but has a 1.4 L soup-capability. As a guide, soup makers with a 1.6 L jug can generally produce six meal-size soup-servings, while a 1.2 L jug will be big enough for four servings.
Our own research has led us to favour the kettle design over the traditional blender configuration, although we have included three of the latter in our ‘best’ list, below. The particular reason is the jug: Cheaper blender-style machines have plastic jugs while kettle-style models are almost all stainless steel. We know that many consumers are wary of heating food in plastic and we are not certain of the durability of hard plastic jugs. In the ‘blender-style’, you need to move some way up-market (in our case to the Russell Hobbs 21480 and Cuisinart SSB1U) for stainless steel and thermal glass jugs, respectively.
Best Soup Makers
VonShef Multifunctional Soup Maker, Blender
This appliance can be used as a conventional blender or as an automatic soup maker and there are six buttons on the control panel that engage the various functions: blend; pulse; chunky soup; smooth soup; reheat and boil/steam. When the soup functions are engaged, a beeper sounds to signal when the cooking is complete. The boil/steam function can be used to boil eggs that are suspended in an (included) holder above the water. Reviews range from ‘disappointed’ to ‘delighted’ but this a budget machine with a plastic jug: Not suitable for rough handling but pocket-friendly and possessing a range of features.
VonShef 800W Soup Maker
Our choice of a price-competitive, kettle-style Soup Maker has just three control-buttons on the lid: smooth; chunky and blend. Smooth and chunky enter the pre-programmed soup cycles that run for approximately 25 minutes. The blend function is used for smoothies and cocktails, and the distributor states that it can crush ice. The stainless steel jug has a family-sized 1.6L capacity. This machine enjoys generally favourable reviews and is a good value-for-money selection.
Salter EK1548 Soup Maker
Reviewers report excellent results with the Salter EK1548. It is a stainless steel kettle-style soup maker with three pre-set motor functions: puree; chunky and blend/clean. An ‘intelligent control system’ prevents overspill and dry burning. Users report that cleaning is easy: add hot water and a drop of washing-up liquid, and blend. Heating is efficient and soup is prepared in 20 minutes. Salter is a venerable brand and this is a great choice for a buyer seeking a solid, basic machine.
Morphy Richards 48822 Soup Maker
Morphy Richards manufactures several different models of soup maker, of which the 48822 is a representative and popular example. The soup cooking cycles take between 21 and 25 minutes. It has two pre-programmed cooking modes: smooth and chunky plus buttons for ‘juice’ (for smoothies and milkshakes) and blend (for manual blending). The lid-control panel also includes an LED countdown display to indicate the time remaining until the soup is ready. Reviewers suggest the 1.6L stainless steel jug is easy to clean. Morphy Richards offers a two-year warranty with on-line registration making this an excellent choice for any family kitchen.
Tefal BL841140 Soup Maker
The Tefal BL841140 is a compact, kettle-style soup maker with a large easy-to-read control panel in the lid. The two soup programmes: ‘creamed soup’ and ‘chunky soup’ run for 23 and 25 mins respectively, and two cold programmes: ‘compote’ and ‘blend’ run for 20 mins and 4 minutes respectively, and can be used for baby food, and smoothies and batters. There are also controls for the ‘easy clean’ programme and a ‘keep warm’ function, which runs for 40 minutes and can be engaged manually or automatically when cooking is complete. We like the polished finish on the 1.2L stainless steel jug. This is a robust, well-designed appliance.
Russell Hobbs Soup Maker 21480
Unusually for a blender-style soup maker, the Russell Hobbs 21480 is outfitted with a stainless steel jug, which adds to the durability of the appliance. It is also a very versatile machine with 8 pre-set modes engaged through the control panel at the front of the base: The two automatic soup functions, chunky and creamy, plus boil/steam; sauce; smoothie; blend; ice crush and pulse. A removable cap in the lid allows a cook to add ingredients to the soup during the cooking process, for example, a splash of cream or perhaps a fresh herb. A high-quality, multi-functional appliance.
Cuisinart SSB1U Soup Maker
The Cuisinart SSB1U is a best-of-class, blender-style soup maker that returns control of the cooking process to the chef, through functions that allow for heat adjustment and stirring, a digital timer and a non-stick heating plate. A round silver knob on the front of the base controls the blending options: four speeds and ‘pulse’. Beneath the knob is the heating control panel, with a timer with LED display, and three temperature controls: simmer (up to 80 ºC); low (up to 90 ºC) and boil (up to 110 ºC). Offset, between the blender and heating controls, is a small button that activates the Stir function; a slow rotation of the blender blades. The thick, thermal glass jug allows the cook to see the soup ingredients while they cook and when they are blended. When used as a regular blender, the SSB1U can crush ice. Cuisinart offers a limited 3-year warranty. This is an excellent, durable appliance that will be an asset in any kitchen.
Best Soup Makers Summary
|Price||Jug capacity (l)||Power (W)||Jug material|
|VonShef Multifunctional||£30||1.2 (soup)|
|VonShef 800W Soup Maker||£35||1.6||250 (heater)|
|Salter EK1548 Soup Maker||£45||1.6||1000||Stainless steel|
|Morphy Richards 48822 Soup Maker||£40||1.6||1000||Stainless steel|
|Tefal BL841140 Soup Maker||£55||1.2||1000||Stainless steel|
Soup Maker 21480
|Cuisinart SSB1U Soup Maker||£125||1.4 (soup)|