Bertolli, an Italian company that hails from Lucca, has been a name synonymous with Italian food and authentic Italian products since 1865. Best known for their quality olive oils and pasta sauces, (which I happily use) you may remember that they also launched a new line of Bertolli frozen meals in 2009.
Though I really prefer to make my own Italian food and Italian soups from scratch, Bertolli is fully aware that for folks with busy schedules, it’s near impossible some days to make a delicious, Italian-inspired homemade soup because you need time for shopping, chopping, prepping and simmering, which is why they worked hard to create a new line of restaurant-quality Bertolli frozen meal soups, that will be available in the frozen food section of your local supermarket.
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited by the folks at Bertolli to attend a launch party in New York City announcing their new frozen Italian soup line. That night, Chef Michael Christiansen, who is Bertolli’s innovation chef was joined by spokesperson Chef Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame to kick off the launch!
The evening began by noshing on antipasti and Italian wines while mingling with the other attendees. It progressed into having time to visit individually with Fabio Viviani and Chef Mike and hearing about the soups and how they each became involved with the project. As you listened to them talk, it was obvious that they are both very passionate about the product.
And let’s be honest here – I wouldn’t kick either of them out of bed for eating crackers (with their soup of course)!
There was also a video of Chef Mike shopping at the Roman markets and explaining the process of how the fresh vegetables were chosen, and how all the ingredients – veggies, beans, pasta and herbs, are cooked, flash frozen individually and then bagged at their peak of freshness. When reheated, the ingredients retain more of their nutritional value and stay firm and flavorful, rather than mushy and tasteless.
Then into the kitchen space we went as we were treated to an entertaining cooking demo where Fabio attempted to make a homemade soup from scratch, while Chef Mike opened his bag and reheated the Bertolli Frozen Soup for Two in a fraction of the time.
I’ve embedded a short video (yes, my FIRST attempt at video!) of the cooking demo below.
During the final portion of the night, we got to sample the four delicious soups, each paired with a wine and a specific variety of Italian bread while an opera singer filled the air with arias. I must admit all the soups were delicious and very tasty, but my clear favorite was the Tomato Florentine and Tortellini with Chicken. It was thick, hearty and full of tomato flavor. Bertolli was also kind enough to give me two bags for sampling at home in my own kitchen.
This week I prepared my personal favorite – Tomato Florentine and Tortellini with Chicken for lunch. I was truly impressed at how easy it was to make. I was especially excited that the tortellini was not mushy, the spinach was a vibrant green and I saw plump red tomatoes coming right out of the bag. It looked fresh and certainly tasted better than most canned soups I’ve had – and it only took about 10 minutes to prepare!
As I said before, I prefer to make my own homemade soup – but I can see that in a pinch or for those who don’t have the time (or desire) to make a homemade soup, this is a fantastic, tasty option. If you’re pressed for time and your instinct is to pick up fast food, a Bertolli frozen soup is definitely a healthier alternative to visiting your local drive-thru!
It should be noted that the four recipes now available are not vegetarian friendly. And since I’m a slave to pesky little things like label reading and trying to eat healthy, I’m happy that Bertolli is transparent – you can find all nutritional information both on the package and on their website. What I’m not exactly thrilled with is the fat and sodium content per serving, which is a bit on the high side, and would prevent me from making this an everyday staple in my house.
I love this frozen soup concept so much that I’d be all over a vegetarian, low-fat and low-sodium version! I hope they can improve on that. Can I suggest a Minestrone made with veggie stock, sans the chicken? Well, I guess I just did.
Full disclosure : After attending the event, I was given a Bertolli logo gift bag, a soup ladle, 2 bags of Bertolli Frozen Soup and a coupon for the purchase of an additional frozen soup or meal of my choice. As always, the opinions here remain my own.