Maggi Soup for One with Croutons Cream of Mushroom flavoured soup. $2.49 for two serves.

The cold weather is here and we're in the mood for cups of hot soup. But I have one word for you all - canned.

Though these little packets of powder are easy to carry with you and fast to rehydrate into steaming mugs of something resembling soup, canned soups use more real ingredients and fewer additives.

This product incorporates croutons for something a little different but I still struggled to find any mushrooms in this soup.

Ingredients (greatest quantity first):


Potato starch

This is the main ingredient of this soup - it is like cornflour but made from potato.

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It is essentially a thickener which will react with the hot water you pour on this powder to make a thick sludge similar to soup.

Beverage whitener: [glucose syrup solids, vegetable oil (contains soy), sodium caseinate (from milk), mineral salts (340,451), emulsifiers (471,481), anticaking agent (551), antioxidant (306)]
This is the next largest ingredient and it similar to the stuff you find in the United States and commonly called creamer.

It is basically a liquid that replicates creamy milk, made out of oil and milk.

Added to this are the mineral salts potassium phosphate (340) and diphosphate (451) as preservatives, emulsifiers mono and di glycerides of fatty acids (471) and sodium lactylate (481) to keep the oil and water mixed together and anti-caking agent silicon dioxide (551) to stop it clumping and antioxidant tocopherol (306) which is a natural fat soluble substance otherwise known as vitamin E.

Maltodextrin (from corn)
I seem to find this substance in just about every processed food I look at these days.

It is a white powder made from a starch - in this case corn- which is cooked, then acids or enzymes are added to break it down.

The result is a white powder which is water-soluble and has a neutral taste. It can be used as a thickener, a filler and a preservative in processed foods.

Croutons [(8%) wheat flour, vegetable oil, salt, yeast, spice extracts]
I counted 15 little croutons - about the size of a small fingernail. Once the water was added they were very golden and tasted quite nice. Crunchy and salty.

Skim milk powder
This will be in here most likely for flavour.

Salt
This is a high salt product at 800mg of sodium per 200ml serve.

Yeast extract
This is like Marmite of Vegemite and will be in here for flavour.

Sugar
Not a lot of sugar in here at 2.9g per 200ml serve, so probably in here for a bit of flavour.

Flavour enhancers (621,635)
These are MSG (621) or monosodium glutamate which is a salt of glutamic acid.

It is accepted by the NZ Food Standards Authority that some people who consume this may experience symptoms such a burning sensations, numbness, chest pain, headache, nausea and asthma, but it says that it is okay to have in food as long as it is labelled.

Healthy eaters avoid this additive where possible. The other flavour enhancer is disodium 5 ribo nucleotide (635) which is a chemical compound.

Vegetables (onion, mushrooms 1%)
So in this mushroom flavoured soup there is only 1% of mushrooms. That means that in each 22g sachet of powder there is 0.22 of a gram of mushroom, which is so small you have to wonder why Maggi bothers.

Flavours (contains wheat and soy)
I am going to assume these are artificial flavours as there is no mention of natural flavours on the pack.

Vegetable fat
Not sure what oil is used in here, however this is a low-fat product with just 3g of fat per 200ml serve when made up with water.

Vegetable gum (415)
This is xanthan gum, which is made out of fermented glucose and sucrose. It is now becoming a common ingredient in processed foods as a thickener.

Colours (150c, 160b)
These colours are caramel III (150c) which is a dark brown colour made by heating sugars with ammonia, and annatto (160b) which is a peach colour made from a tropical seed.

Herb (chives)
You can see a few tiny flecks of green when this soup is made up.

My recommendations:
In a perfect world I would have you all making batches of mushroom soup at home and freezing them in small 200ml serve lots to take to work or school in a Thermos.

Mushroom soup is really very easy to make. But we're all busy so instead at the very least pay the same price for a can of Campbell's condensed mushroom soup and make that up.

You'll get more for your money and a better taste as the can will produce 850mls of soup compared to 400mls with these packets.

The best news is that mushrooms are listed second after water on the ingredients list, there is no MSG or artificial preservatives and it's 97% fat free.

The only difference is that instead of adding boiling water to some powder you are taking an extra few minutes to open a can, tip it in a saucepan along with some water and heating it.

I think that's worth the effort to ensure a soup which actually has a decent amount of mushroom in it, don't you?

Admittedly you won't get the tiny 15 pieces of croutons but you can buy those ready made for a few dollars and sprinkle them in if you have to or fry up your own.

And if you really want to treat yourself spend $2-3 more and buy a pouch of mushroom soup from the fridge section of your supermarket to get all natural, fresh ingredients your body will love.

Highlights:
• Contains only 0.22g of mushrooms in each 200ml serve.
• Uses MSG and artificial flavourings.
• Costs the same as a can of mushroom soup which has more mushrooms and more soup.