When we put up our post on soup, I had a very good question come in, and that was all about different types of equipment that can be used to blend the soup. You know I recommended the immersion blender both in the article and in the past, and while it is the easiest tool to use, is it the best tool to use? Let’s look at 4 common tools and we shall see.
THE FOOD MILL
Let’s go back to the original blender first, the food mill. This is the classic way of preparing purees for years, and the advent of electric tools in the kitchen. Basically you place the food in the mill, turn the handle, which in turn spins a blade that draws food underneath and then forces it through a sieve on the bottom part. You are left with a lot of left overs in the mill at times, but the there is something special about the rustic texture foods take on.
I know of families whose mother will swear it’s the best way to make tomato sauce, and they could be on to something. A good food mill will last a long time and usually are made of durable steel. The one drawback is they do tend to be quite large, and they can be a bit messy.
The classic blender I remember, ribbed with a heavy base, is still around today. Sure you can get these plastic ones and be ok, but there is nothing like the torque and power you get from the original. Always make sure your blender has a lid you can pour ingredients through, like oil for vinaigrettes. You also want to make sure it has a good seal, nothing is worse than a poor seal and blowing a smoothie all over your ceiling.
Traditional blenders will probably give you the smoothest results, and that is from the power of the motor that can really spin the blades inside. It also can mix things better because of the action inside the machine. A good blender could last a life time, but occasionally the gears on the bottom of the canister or jar and strip, but it is a simple matter to replace. There is usually a gasket as well on the bottom of the jar which is pretty easy as well to get at.
Downsides to blenders are that they have to work in batches if you are doing a large quantity, and that if you are making something hot, there is a splash hazard to be wary of, in addition to the jar itself getting hot. But you will get the smoothest results.
THE CUISINART (FOOD PROCESSOR)
How awesome is your product, that it names an entire genre of machines? Cuisinart really nailed it with their product when it cam on the market in the 80’s. It is a great and versatile machine no kitchen should be with out. I will do a whole review of one in the future, so for now I will stick to its use in the puree and blend capacity.
The blade in the bottom of a typical food processor are designed to chop and mix. There are other blades available, but the core process here is chopping and cutting. The speed control is usually one with minimal control, an on, off, and maybe a middle setting. These things do not make it ideal for blending a soup, but its raw speed, makes up for its shortcomings.
The food processor is a great tool to puree and place things in, with large holes for adding products later in the cooking process. I tend to find that pulsing at the beginning of the process yields the nest results. A few of the rubs with this unit are that the seal is usually not water tight, and sometimes even where you put the blade does not seal, so it can be messy. I put mine on a cookie sheet if I am doing something thin like a soup. It also is difficult to pour from as the blade wants to flop out all the time, and most don’t have a spout built in. That being said, it is very powerful, will do a decent job, and it might be something you already have. A larger container makes for larger batches that a blender, but that depends on your model too.
THE IMMERSION BLENDER
Ok, I did these in order of invention, not anything else, so don’t read into this too much. You can get my full review if you like here, so I will just point out some basic facts here.
The winning part of this design, compared to the others, is the ability to leave what you are working on, in the pot you are working in. I even leave it right on the stove since I have an outlet nearby where I can plug mine into. This allows me to blend and have a free hand to pour in other ingredients or hold the pan if need be.
Cleanup is about the same as the others, and not something I would throw in the dishwasher, but it is a quick job, and without a container, and another pot to put product in, it does have that going for it.
Now the motor on these is a bit smaller than your household blender, and that is going to have an effect. The trade off is that it will take longer to blend to get it nice and smooth, and you might not get it as smooth as a dedicated blender, but you will get close. This can plan an important roll in making dressing or emulsifications where you need a lot of speed and whipping that a tabletop blender will give you.
Well, the choice is now up to you. I can tell you which I have, and that is all four. Although the food mill comes out very rarely, if at all these days, the others enjoy rotations through the kitchen., My standing blender is used for smaller batches and dressings, while the Cuisinart does a great mayonnaise base dressing, and the immersion, well, its handy and around when I need to make a large soup or sauce. So in my kitchen, it is more about choosing the right tool, for the right job.