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September 1, 2013

Purely American Foods: Soups, Stews, and Chowders

by Anne Paddock

Several years ago, I stopped buying canned soups and started making my own because I wanted to have soups with no additives and a lower sodium content. Most soups are relatively easy to make but have two challenging aspects:  time and flavor.  Cutting up vegetables is time-consuming but if a food processor is used, the chopping and mincing is a snap. Onions, celery, and carrots are three very common vegetables used in soups and my mini chopper dices these vegetables in seconds.

Flavoring, on the other hand cannot be solved by a tool. Simply adding more salt to a soup doesn’t really add flavor because salt enhances flavor (but also adds sodium). Herbs and spices are needed to add flavor to soups but the whole process of deciding which spices and how much to add can be an intimidating process. Enter Purely American Foods.

fss_summergardenPurely American is an Ohio-based company that makes boxed soup and slow cooker meals that are easy, flavorful, low in sodium (no added salt; just naturally occurring sodium), and have an ingredient list that makes me smile. I rarely buy anything in a box but I received a Summer in the Garden Split Pea Soup Mix in a food subscription service that sends a box of various healthy foods every month.

Made with organic split peas, dried carrots, dried onions, dried whole peas, tomato flakes, celery flakes, bell peppers, parsley, black pepper, thyme and a bay leaf, Summer in the Garden Split Pea Soup Mix has 17 grams of protein per serving (there are 7 servings per box), 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of sugar, 1 gram of dietary fiber and only 15 mg of sodium. On the back of the box, a Market Shopping List of other ingredients needed (i.e. vegetables, meat, broth, etc) is printed along with directions and vegetarian options so the soup can be prepared in a variety of ways, depending on dietary choices.

fss_harvestmoonWe loved the Split Pea Soup (and we made the vegetarian option and used half of the spice packet for a less spicy version) which led me to order a dozen other varieties of the company’s soup and slow cooker mixes. The Texas Panhandle Chuckwagon Chili Mix turned out to be another family favorite. Made with small red, kidney, pinto, black and pink beans, dried onions, dried green peppers, spices, jalapeno, cayenne, and black peppers, the Chili Mix made a mean vegetarian chili with tofu, mushrooms, a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes, chopped sweet potatoes, and water in a slow cooker for 6 hours on HIGH. The chili turned out to be thick, spicy*, and delicious without added salt and sugars.

As packaged, the Texas Panhandle Chili Mix makes 8 servings of chili with each serving providing 9 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fat, 9 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and again only 15 mg of sodium. For those who prefer a meat based chili, lean ground beef can be added to the mix instead of tofu. Serve with a batch of fresh corn bread and a side salad and dinner is ready.

*For a less spicy version, only use half of the spice pack enclosed in the box as the full packet makes a very spicy version.

fss_celebratespringWhat sets Purely American boxed mixes apart from other packaged meals is the ingredients, the ease of use, the nutritional content, and the flavoring which is bold and delicious. For those who want less spice, consider using half of the spice packet. My husband really loves the Yukon Gold Bean and Beef Stew Mix but prefers the less spicy version where only half of the spice packet is used.

fss_yukon_goldThe company makes six boxed Farmstand Soup Co. Mixes:

  • Summer in the Garden Split Pea soup Mix
  • Celebrate Spring Lentil and Sausage Stew Mix
  • Five Pepper Medley Fireside Chili Mix
  • Harvest Moon 9 Bean Soup Mix
  • Summer BBQ Corn and Chicken Stew Mix
  • Yukon Gold Bean and Beef Stew Mix

and 10 Slow Cooker Gourmet Salt-Free Dinner Kits:

  • American Pioneer 21 Bean Soup
  • Hudson River Valley Split Pea Soup
  • Indian Farmstand Chicken Corn Chowder
  • Lewis & Clark Lentil and Sausage Stew
  • Memphis Blues Pork Chop Dinner
  • Minnesota Lake Country Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
  • NY Italian Deli Bean Soup
  • Santa Fe Chipotle Southwest Bean Bake
  • Sunday at Grandma’s Pot Roast Stew
  • Texas Panhandle Chuckwagon Chili

Each box is priced from $4.50 – $6.00, depending on the retailer. Available directly from the company via their website:  www.purelyamerican.com where 6 Farmstand Soup or Slow Cooker Mixes can be purchased for about $30 or 12 for $55 plus shipping with free shipping for all orders over $75; or through www.abesmarket.com.

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