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The last time we ventured into the realm of dehydrated soups in a paper cup, they were the truly awful Tambobamba Bowls. And before that were the equally-bad-if-not-somewhat-worse soups from Dr. MacDougall. I should have paid attention when I said that it would be another 20 years before I tried the MacDougall brand again and applied that to dehydrated cup of soups in general.
Today's test foods came to our attention because of the "Louisiana Purchase" brand, which led us to believe that they were a Louisiana company. Naive of us, I know, because this is actually an imprint of MaGi Foods, a company based in San Antonio, Texas. Their mission is admirable: to provide food products that are tasty, healthy, convenient, and affordable. All of their products are gluten-free, as well, and they are committed to using only natural ingredients.
Both of the soups we tested are 200 calories or less per serving and it's true that their ingredients lists are nothing but recognizable ingredients. The sodium levels aren't too terribly high for a full meal (570 mg and 640 mg respectively), and if there's anything that should be able to be dehydrated and reconstituted, it's rice and beans.
Famous last words.
We started with the Red Beans & Rice. As with other dehydrated soups, you add water to a line on the inside of the package and microwave it for 3 1/2 minutes. You then stir, recover, and allow to sit for one minute. Simple enough, and it smells great - spicy and garlicky - while cooking. As we'd expected, the beans reconstitute well and are creamy. The problem is that the rice doesn't rehydrate properly even if you wait several minutes after cooking to allow the rice to soak up as much water as possible. The rice still ends up crunchy.
The overall flavor is reminiscent of the beans and rice served in cafeterias: a little more smoke flavoring than necessary and SALTY. As I mentioned, there are 570 milligrams of salt in this soup and you can taste every single one of them. To be fair, if there were more than a scant 3/4 cup of soup that might not be such a problem. Overall, it might be all natural and gluten free, but it's not tasty.
The Jambalaya was worse. Classic jambalaya is a rice-based dish with various combinations of meats, sausage, and shellfish. This is jambalaya only in the sense that it contains rice: the package's "serving suggestion" recommends that you "add sausage, pulled pork, cooked shrimp, or chicken for a tasty meal." So what you really have here is flavored rice - a side dish and not a meal. After the additional insult of having the product boil over in the microwave, creating a mess, we still ended up with crunchy rice with a strong smoke flavor and a metallic aftertaste. Ugh.
That's it. With so many other options for convenience meals, I think it's safe to say that these have put us off dehydrated soup-in-a-cup meals forever. There are two other products in the line, but we won't bother reviewing them. Leave this stuff on the shelf.
Reviewed: September 27, 2013
Note, 12/30/2019: This product line is reported to have been discontinued in 2018.