A Medley of Taste – Simply Delish Soup and Salad

Calico Bean Soup

As I told you on Tuesday, Kevin and I did some shopping at the Fraser Valley Food Show last weekend. We’ve been happily eating our way through our finds ever since.

Today, I have something of guest post from Kevin, reviewing one of the products he was especially eager to try, Simply Delish Soup and Salad:

Simply Delish Soup

On Saturday April 2nd, I went with Teresa to the Fraser Valley Food Show. As someone who has been celiac since my birth in 1971, and who has been vegan for almost a year and a half, I was a bit skeptical about finding much that I would like at the show. I say this even knowing full well how much things have changed for people with celiac disease since the 70s and for vegans in the last five years.

The place that immediately caught my eye was Simply Delish Soup and Salad. Their display booth was outstanding. I couldn’t stop looking at their pre-packaged soups, as they looked incredibly pretty. I believe everything but one item was both gluten-free and vegan. The service was friendly but not overbearing. Brad was very helpful in explaining their product and I thought it was cool he was aware of Teresa’s One Wet Foot blog. I ended up leaving with their Calico Soup.

I initially thought that $9.00 was a lot to pay for this pretty package of beans and spices. Once I realized how much soup it makes, I realized I was wrong – it makes a lot of soup for $9.00. Teresa even helped me do some quick math about how much it would cost otherwise. Usually one pays a lot extra for convenience, but not here. The soup couldn’t have been easier to make – just put it into a slow cooker and add water. As someone who likes convenience with vegan/gluten-free cooking, I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved the simplicity of this.

Often with pre-packaged vegan and gluten-free food, not only is it over-priced but it’s also loaded with unhealthy ingredients. This soup couldn’t be farther from that – the nutrient value is extremely high in this soup. I can’t recommend this soup enough. I was happy to hear that Brad & Chelsey sell their product in Vancouver, as we plan on having much more of it in this household.

Medley of beans in the slow cooker

I agree with Kevin’s assessment – we enjoyed a delicious soup with minimal effort – we threw in some diced celery and carrot, as we had it on hand, but I suspect it would have been just as enjoyable without. I also added some salt just before serving. Brad and Chelsey don’t add any salt to their products, which I appreciate for two reasons – salt makes dried pulses tough and I like to control the amount of salt in our food. We like just enough salt in our food to enhance the flavours.

There’s a place for soup mixes like this in our lives – made with healthy ingredients, guaranteed gluten-free and vegan, great as is while easy to customize, and perfect for days when hands on cooking isn’t feasible. They’re a great addition to our pantry.

Overhead shot of calico bean soup

We received no consideration for our review of this product. It’s part of an occasional series of posts highlighting locally made products that we buy and enjoy.

Food in the Fraser Valley

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It’s become a habit of mine to kick off the spring season with a visit to the Fraser Valley Food Show. I’ve told you about it before, and this year was just as enjoyable.

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This year I brought my partner for the first time, so much of our time was spent exploring the Gluten-Free Living section, so much so that we came home with bags packed with products we bought to try. I’ll be featuring a few of the ones we like best in upcoming blog posts.

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I was on my own for the sausage-tasting, since my partner is vegan, but there was plenty to occupy his time before we reconvened in the wine, beer, and spirits tasting area. I ate my way through about ten excellent offerings and was hard pressed to choose a winner, so I’m not sure how the judges, who tried many more, could come to their decisions. You can see the list of winners here.

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Here are a few of the highlights for me this year:

Nextjen gluten-free flours

Ravens Brewing Company Dry Irish Stout

Wayward Distillation House‘s Unruly Gin, Vodka, and ‘Depth Charge’ liqueur

Nuoc Cham Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Onnick’s Blueberry Farm‘s bottled iced teas

Stapleton Sausage Co.‘s duck sausage with blueberry, made with Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry duck

ZipGrow Farm Walls

Hanes Hummus

Simply Delish Soup and Salad gluten-free soup mixes

That’s just a sampling of what we enjoyed at this year’s show. I’m hoping to do a little exploring of some of the farms and makers in the Fraser Valley this year, so stay tuned for more!

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I attended the Fraser Valley Food Show on a media pass, but had no obligation to review or write about any aspect of the show. All opinions are my own.

The Bounty of the Valley

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I attended the Fraser Valley Food Show as a guest on a media tour, but had no obligation to review or write about any aspect of the show. All opinions are my own.

I grew up in the Fraser Valley, in a typically suburban neighbourhood, with 1/4 acre lots, corner stores, and tiny drive-in shopping centres that housed things like the local library and bank branches, along with bakeries, hardware stores and a Greek-Italian steakhouse or two. If we hopped on our bikes, we could ride out to where the farmland began, but it was mostly hobby farms and horse barns. The working farms were farther away.

We weren’t completely divorced from those farms, though. We were lucky enough that there were what we called ‘farm markets’ at intervals along Fraser Highway, stocked with local fruit and vegetables. My parents preferred to shop there over the supermarket, while also keeping an eye out for seasonal goodies like Chilliwack corn, fruit stands, and ‘U Pick’ berries. So, long before farm-to-table became de rigueur, we knew how lucky we were to live in such a fertile place.

But the Fraser Valley has more to offer than just the building blocks of good meals. From charcuterie to chocolate, from bread to beer, there are more and more businesses offering the kind of food and drink that’s been celebrated in hotbeds like Brooklyn or Portland. And the Fraser Valley Food Show does a good job of showcasing the range of what this region has to offer.

Sausage

I went on Saturday, just in time to beat the line for the Oktoberfest Sausage Tasting. I found it hard to choose amongst the nine or ten sausages I tried – they were all wonderful, some with a slow heat and others with a meaty savour. I certainly would have hated to be one of the three judges for the competition round. They had to sample 112 different sausages before coming to a decision about handing out multiple ribbons and trophies. You can see a list of the winners here. I suspect it might make a good basis for a self-guided tour of Metro Vancouver sausage makers.

Competition

The rest of my day was spent exploring the stalls, listening to speakers, and sampling, sampling, sampling. The Gluten Free Living show was particularly interesting to me, as my partner has celiac disease and we’re always looking for good gluten-free staples. There were lots of great prepared foods there, of course, but there were two things that really impressed me. First, all the exhibitors at the Food Show were knowledgeable about whether or not there was gluten (or allergens) in their products, whether they were in the gluten-free area or not. Secondly, there were some interesting ingredients on offer, like Nextjen gluten-free flour mix. It’s great to be able to buy a box of gluten-free cookies or pasta, but for someone who likes scratch cooking and baking, base ingredients that are safe and easy to use are an exciting development. And buying local makes it even better.

As for all that sampling I did, well, I’m going to give you a short list of some of the things that stood out for me this year. It won’t be comprehensive, because there was a lot of good stuff to eat, drink, and buy.

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Eat

ChocolaTas’ Chocolate Ganaches

JD Farms’ turkey sausages

Fire Belly’s pepper sauces

Drink

Shuswap Infusions’ teas

Parallel 49’s Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest beer

Glutenberg’s Chestnut Brown Ale

Campbell’s Gold mead and melomel

Learn

I don’t know about you, but whenever I go to an event like this, I find myself a little intimidated by the line in front of the All You Need is Cheese demonstration area. I don’t know if it’s because we got to the Food Show a little early, but there was only a short line on Saturday. So, I ducked in with Mary from Vancouver Bits and Bites and Cathy Browne. (It was so nice to meet you, ladies.) In a short time, we had a tasting of seven different cheeses across several categories. Many of them were BC cheeses, too. I learned a thing or two and my taste buds were primed for heading over to the Wine, Beer, and Spirits Tasting.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ned Bell’s presentation. He spoke about his cross-Canada cycle trip in support of sustainable seafood and then he showed us how to break down a salmon, while giving us tips and information on how to work sustainable seafood into our diets. I wasn’t aware that land-based fish farming is one source of sustainable seafood and I certainly hadn’t thought about the cost savings involved in buying a whole salmon, breaking it down, and freezing it in portions. You can find out more about Bell’s ride at Chefs for Oceans and here’s a link to my go to resource for information about sustainable seafood, Ocean Wise.

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My only quibble with the show is that I’d like to see them showcase more local restaurants in their Bite of the Valley category. I’d love the opportunity to sample small plates from any of the great restaurants that put the food produced in the Fraser Valley to such good use. It would make the show a complete journey from farm to plate.