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Instant soup is pre-cooked and often pre-portioned. It can be relatively inexpensive, though some brands are more costly than others. There are many flavors, brands, and packaging methods to consider when choosing an instant soup.
This kind of soup can be sold as a completely dry product. Examples are ramen, an instant noodle product with a broth flavoring packet, onion soups, and miso. Soup ingredients, such as broth flavoring, vegetables, noodles, and rice, are dehydrated and packaged. The consumer adds water or another liquid to reconstitute the soup, heating it for a short amount of time before eating. These soups are among the least expensive soups available.
Other instant soups come partially dehydrated, or condensed, containing some liquid content. These soups are usually sold in cans and have to be reconstituted, or have liquid added to them, before consumption, to properly dilute the broth or sauce. There are several products that are dense before preparation, such as pastes that consumers squeeze into a cup or saucepan before adding hot water. These products will usually be found in small packets rather than in cans. Condensed instant soup is also usually reasonably priced.
Some types of instant soup do not require reconstitution and are ready-to-eat with just heating. These soups tend to be more expensive than dry or condensed soup mixes. They are usually sold in cans.
Most cultures have a set of favored soup products, and many of these are available as instant soup. Instant Thai soups that are generally easily found include Bangkok curry, garlic vegetable, lemongrass and chili, spring onion, and Thai ginger. Among instant Latin soups are sopa de cola de res, sopa de pollo fideo, and crema de mariscos. Japanese varieties such as miso, tofu spinach miso, shiro miso, wakame, osuimono, and egg flower are also readily available.
One thing a consumer may wish to consider when buying instant soup is its nutritional value. Some soups are quite healthy, with low fat and sodium content, but others may not share these features, sometimes containing over 100% of the recommended average daily sodium intake or hundreds of calories per serving. Cream soups are often high in fat and sometimes salt, and traditionally healthier choices, like minestrone and vegetable beef, can still be high in salt. If fat or sodium is a concern, it is important to read product labels carefully.
I was never one of those college students who lived off instant ramen noodles. I usually found other kinds of inexpensive foods or found part-time work in restaurants. I always found instant soups to be very salty, and I could never get the timing right. They would either be undercooked or overdone.
But a few years ago, I bought a higher grade instant soup that had the same basic ingredients as the cheaper ramen noodle packs. It was a complete turnaround. These soups had strong flavors other than salt or MSG, and the noodles had the ideal texture. I don't have to live on a college student's budget these days, but sometimes I get a craving for comfort foods like instant soup.
When my wife starts feeling sick, all she wants to eat is instant chicken noodle soup. I usually get the kind packaged in paper envelopes. The thing I've noticed is that one package will make a surprisingly large amount of soup. She'll have enough for at least two meals. I think families living on a limited food budget should definitely consider investing in instant soups.
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