If you're short on time, having a soup maker is great for making batches of fresh homemade soup in hardly any time at all. We round up our favourite models.
Lakeland touchscreen soup maker
Best bits: Slick design, easy to use and multi-functional
One of the easiest machines to use, we were astonished that all we needed to do was simply pop our ingredients into the jug, click on the consistency of soup we were looking for (in this case, smooth) and within 30 minutes, we had delicious, warm, creamy soup ready and waiting. The touchscreen buttons were simple to navigate and added a stylish touch. Although it is quite bulky (you may need extra cupboard space to store) we would highly recommend this modern piece of equipment if you're looking to take away the usual fuss of making soup at home.
VonShef jug soup maker
Best bits: Minimal storage, easy to pour and relatively quiet
This efficient machine has a fairly simple design, is easy to use and produces a lovely smooth soup in under 30 minutes. Some machines create a racket as they blend and pulse the vegetables inside, however this compact jug purred along quietly and only made noise towards the last minute of blending. The jug style of the machine also makes the soup easy to pour. The functions on the machine aren’t the most extensive, but if all you're after is a silky homemade soup, this machine gets rave reviews. Plus, it's one of the most affordable models on the market.
Best… for families
Best bits: Slick design, yields large quantities, easy to clean
Looking to feed a crowd or make a batch of soup that will last a while? Despite the fact we used the same quantities of ingredients for every machine tested, this soup maker created 1700ml of soup – almost double some of the competing models. Although quite heavy, this soup maker is fairly compact and we would describe the design as a cross between a kettle and a blender. Unlike jug models, which are normally stainless steel, the body of this machine is glass, meaning you can watch as your soup is prepared. We were also impressed by how easy it was to clean, with each compartment pulling apart for easy access hand-washing.
Available from Clifford James (£49.99)
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Though not a kitchen essential, for some soup makers save a great deal of time, stress and washing-up in the kitchen. Some traditional soup recipes call for various stages of preparation from chopping, to simmering for long periods of time, to then blitzing with a hand blender, all of which is time-consuming and creates mess – especially if you're too keen with the hand blender! It sounds contradictory, but soup makers aren't always just for soups. Many have the functionality to prepare smoothies, cold drinks, sauces and even baby food, so you can make your investment stretch further.
What should I buy?
Size is an important consideration. Most soup makers are bulky and can be heavy to lift. Most soup makers prepare up to around 2000ml of soup at once, which can be cooled, sealed and frozen if you want to batch cook. A relatively new appliance on the market, there aren't as many varieties of models available as some of the more traditional kitchen gadgets. Popular designs have stainless steel jugs with a blender attachment inside however many retailers have taken on the look of a blender or smoothie maker and sit grander in height than the jug-style models.
What we looked for
Instruction manual: Depending on the appliance itself, cooking times can vary widely from machine to machine and must be taken into consideration for each model. We looked for helpful, accurate guidance from the manufacturer on set-up, timings and how to prepare various types of soups.
Ease of use: A soup maker should reduce the work involved in cooking. We looked for easy-to-use machines, where we felt confident that the process minimised the fuss of preparing ingredients and cooking them.
Ease of cleaning: Although we were open to hand-washing (most machines, because of their size and electric output are not dishwasher safe), we still kept an eye out for machines that made life easier when it came to washing-up.
Aesthetics and size: Soup makers can be space consuming so we considered both height and footprint. We favoured compact soup makers for ease of storage, however we did not give preference to smaller models with poorer capabilities. Design was also taken into consideration and we looked out for modern-looking machines.
Versatility: We looked for soup makers that didn't just stick to the norm and brought other uses where possible.
How we tested
Carrot and coriander soup: We followed the basic instructions to make our delicious carrot & coriander soup, however prior to starting, we studied each instruction manual and – where applicable – tried suggested recipes. Some machines called for the pre-cooking of vegetables, which we chose not to do as this would enhance the flavour of some soups over others.
Smooth setting: Every soup maker has different settings. For each machine, we selected the smooth setting.
Recipes to cook in a soup maker
Although these recipes call for soup to be made by hand, why not adapt your favourite soup recipes and give them a try in your soup maker?
More advice on buying electronic kit
This review was last updated in March 2018. To find out how we conduct all of our BBC Good Food taste tests and reviews, please visit our frequently asked questions page. If you have any further questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.