Product: Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup – $2.79+
The weather outside is back to being frightful. I wish it would just warm up. Honestly. I am so done with winter.
One thing, however, that is good about colder temperatures outdoors is…soup! Granted, I can happily eat soup in the spring, summer and fall, but it just feels so right and homey when consumed in winter. Especially on really bitterly cold days.
My roommate and I actually had picked up this box of soup at Trader Joe’s awhile back. But other soups came first…mostly homemade. And this kept its place in the pantry. That is until last night. What was so different about last night? Well…I had nothing in my fridge or pantry due to being out of town and cancelling my CSA bin for another week. Sure, I grabbed a few items at the grocery store, but nothing condusive to a soup. And I really, really wanted soup.
Thank goodness my pantry is usually stocked with some sort of soup or vegetable broth. I chose to make vegan and gluten-free BLT sandwiches and serve it with bowl of the Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup. An easy, stress-free dinner. Just what I needed as my day had been rather tiring and long, mostly on the road. Cathy said she was okay with that dinner and so…that’s what I ended up making. I pulled the soup box out of the pantry and put 2 cups of it into a bowl, reserving the other 2 cups for today when I make the same dinner again because…well…I can and I have everything!
The soup was easy enough to warm up, so while it warmed on the stovetop, I toasted some bread to top with baby kale, tomato slices, and slices of vegan and gluten-free bacon that I made a week ago. It’s good to go from freezer to pan and it is awesome. I posted the recipe a couple weeks ago and just linked it there. Anyway, the soup was a crazy purple-brown color. So, yeah…not the most appetizing looking soup, but it smelled fantastic as it cooked. I stirred it on occasion while taking care not to burn the bread in the oven nor the bacon in a pan on the stove. I managed. And as everything finished up and the bread slices were spread with Veganaise and topped with the vegetables and bacon, I got out a ladle to dish up the soup.
I filled the bowls with a serving each and settled in for dinner. Soup and sandwich. Classic…and one of my favorite combinations. I almost did gluten-free and vegan grilled cheese…but the BLT was too tempting. And it worked so well with this soup!
First of all, this soup was not much to look at, but HELLO FLAVOR! The seasoning of this soup was beyond amazing. It had a little bit of heat and layers and depth to each spoonful. I tend to dip my sandwiches into my soup, especially when it’s a non-chunky soup like this, and it meshed really well with the vegan and gluten-free BLT. I thought as far as flavor went, this soup had it going on. The spice was just enough…not too strong. And the other flavors, garlic, cumin, and chipotle didn’t overpower. I sipped at this soup, really just taking it in to form my opinion. And when I asked my roommate what she thought of it, she echoed exactly what I was thinking. It was good…but it was lacking something. It was just…black bean broth. It was missing…something. That’s the thing about boxed soups, all you get is the flavor base. When you make it at home, it’s usually thicker, maybe chunky, has more depth. That’s what this lacked. It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong…but it was just lacking. That’s why when I cooked the rest of it up tonight, I made some homemade crackers to float on top. HA! I can be resourceful.
That being said, Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup is made up from filtered water, black beans, onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, flavor concentrate (tomato puree, sea salt, sugar, canola oil, spices, chipotle pepper, natural flavor), tomato paste, garlic, sea salt, olive oil, cumin, guar gum, and black pepper. For being the last ingredient listed, the black pepper and chipotle flavors really do stand out the most. But, I like heat, so I’m okay with that. None of these ingredients raised any flags to me. I recognized them all.
Nutritionally speaking, Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup is almost a rockstar. A serving is 1 cup of the soup. This 1 cup bowlful will provide you with 70 calories and 1 gram of fat. A serving also dishes up 520 mg sodium and 3 grams of sugar. While it seems a bit high in sodium, it is a packaged soup and I knew that when I purchased it. And, in the grand scheme of things and compared to other soups on the market, 520 mg of sodium isn’t the worst I have seen. A serving of this soup also provides 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. So, you will feel full…trust me…after eating this soup. Yes…even without the chunks.
So, the basic feeling on this soup is that, it is good and tasty, but definitely lacking. I liked the spices and the heat, but the texture was just…not quite what I expect when I hear the term black bean soup. I was disappointed there, but would definitely consider getting this soup again, perhaps to use more as a base for a chili, or next time add some rice or vegetables or…even black beans, instead of a soup on its own.