I love to cook. I usually end up in the kitchen for a few hours a day, since I prefer making things from scratch. I generally try and avoid prepackaged foods if at all possible. Well, with the exception of instant mashed potatoes. My family actually prefers them to the "real deal", and I always doctor them up with cheese, roasted garlic, and other goodies to take them from blah to WOW!
While I definitely don't mind making elaborate, labor intensive meals, there are some days that I wish there were a quicker, more convenient option available, without sacrificing flavor or quality. Sounds like a pretty tall order, right? I thought so too! And then I was introduced to Bertolli's new line of Premium Meal Soups. I admit, I am not normally a soup person, since most of the canned varieties lack flavor or substance. There's nothing worse than opening up a can of soup to find mushy, bland veggies in a tasteless broth. Yuck! But much to my delight, Bertolli Meal Soups are different.
First of all, the most notable difference is that these soups are found in the freezer section. Why are they frozen? To ensure freshness and maintain the wonderful quality that Bertolli is known for. The veggies are hearty and remain crisp, the meat is moist and flavorful, and the broth isn't stale-tasting or one-noted. These are restaurant quality soups that can be prepared effortlessly in the comfort of your own kitchen! These meal soups come in 4 crave-worthy varieties, including Chicken Minestrone, Roasted Chicken and Rotini Pasta, Tomato Florentine & Tortellini with Chicken, and Tuscan-Style Beef & Vegetables.
Last night, I decided to make my life a bit easier by taking the Bertolli Weeknight Meal Special Challenge. This was definitely an experience, since I had to make a meal worthy of a special occasion in an hour or less. Anyone who knows me knows that I am never cooking for less than an hour! After some consideration and planning, I came up with a casual, yet delicious dinner menu that was not only quick and convenient, but also completely delicious. I made Bertolli Premium Meal Soup in the Tuscan-Style Beef & Vegetables variety, a nice, fresh salad, and some gourmet-inspired Italian Paninis.
I set out to the store to pick up my supplies, and found some amazing additions for my meal, like fresh imported Mozzarella cheese, shaved Parmesan Reggiano, Smoked Gouda, Prosciutto, Soppressata, Black Forest Ham, organic baby spinach, some beautiful basil pesto, and some roasted red peppers! I think it's safe to say that when it comes to food, I believe in buying the highest quality ingredients available. It really DOES make a difference in the end result. So while I spent a little more money than I had hoped to, I had some of the best cheeses and meats on the market, so I knew my paninis would be absolutely spectacular.
After I had my panini and salad fixins' all taken care of, I headed over to the freezer section to grab my Bertolli Meal Soup. I was immediately impressed by the size of the bag, which is perfect for a romantic dinner for 2. I also loved the image of beautiful, hearty soup on the front of the bag. It was making my mouth water, right there in the aisle! While all of the varieties looked amazing, we stuck to our original plan and got the Tuscan Beef & Vegetables. There's something about nice, tender beef paired with mushrooms and veggies that got both the hubby and myself hungry!
After we got home, we made the kids some grilled chicken, rice and veggies and got them to bed. Now it was time for our "Date Night In". With 3 kids, it isn't easy to get quality couple time, so I decided to make this dinner extra special. I prepped all of the ingredients, sliced the cheese and the red peppers, and went to work. After all, I only had an hour. (Eeeek!) Surprisingly, dinner was done in 25 minutes, prep time included!
The Bertolli Meal Soup was so easy to make. All I had to do was dump the contents into a soup pot and add 1 cup of water. I stirred it occasionally, and let it heat up on the stove for about 10 minutes. The aroma of the soup was amazing. I could smell the fragrant scent of the beef and the fresh veggies, swimming in a savory, flavorful broth. Yum! There was pasta in the soup as well, and it was not mushy or pasty. It was surprisingly al dente, and absolutely perfect looking! I wanted to dive right into a nice bowl of hot soup, but I still had a salad and paninis to prepare. Good things come to those who wait, right?
As the soup sat on a low simmer, I went to work preparing my salad. I used a variety of fresh spring greens, carrots, black olives, mushrooms, pepperoncini, and shaved Parmesan cheese. I dressed the salad with a creamy Asiago Peppercorn Dressing. Now on to the paninis!
The paninis were easy to assemble as well. I bought pre-sliced sourdough bread to save the time of slicing it myself. I slathered the inside of one slice with the basil pesto, and then I added the smoked gouda. I then added the Black Forest Ham, Soppressata, and Prosciutto. Top top if off, I added the fresh Mozzarella, some black olives, roasted red peppers, and some baby spinach. I then brushed my George Foreman Grill with some olive oil and set the paninis inside. Within about 3 minutes, I had beautifully browned, melty paninis.
Finally it was time to eat! All of that cooking made me so hungry, especially since I could smell the Bertolli Meal Soup simmering away. I set the mood by lighting some candles, and we began eating our meal. My husband and I were both very impressed by the soup. It was full of flavor, and the ingredients were definitely quite fresh. The veggies were "crisp-tender", the broth was luscious and savory, and the meat was tender and delicious. Even the pasta screamed fresh, unlike the mushy pasta found in most prepared soups.
The salad and paninis were fantastic as well. I especially loved the paninis. They rivaled anything I had ever gotten at a sub shop or even an upscale restaurant. I attribute this to the fact that I used superior quality ingredients. The salad was awesome as well, as the mixed variety of greens were perfect, especially topped with the creamy asiago dressing.
Overall, I would say our romantic dinner was a total success. Not only was it delicious, it was also quite convenient and on the table in 25 minutes! I am so glad that I took the Bertolli Weeknight Meal Special Challenge. This challenge showed me that I CAN make a gourmet meal without spending hours and hours slaving away in the kitchen. All it takes is a little creativity, some quality ingredients, and Bertolli Premium Meal Soups!
HOW TO CONNECT:
You can check out other great meal ideas on the Bertolli website.
You can also follow Bertolli on Facebook and on twitter for some great meal tips, as well as awesome promotions!
As a matter of fact, all of the bloggers who took the Bertolli Weeknight Meal Special Challenge will be sharing our top tips on Facebook and on twitter using the hashtag #BertolliMealSoup Check it out!
***Disclosure: I was compensated by Bertolli to participate in the Weeknight Meal Special Challenge. ***
PR Friendly Mama!
I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud Mom of 3 amazing kids. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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