Bowl or mug? The debate hots up at the Rod and Ben's soup club

For members gathered in a candle-lit restored tithe barn at Bickham Farm near Exeter in Devon last week for the country’s first soup club, there was one question on everyone’s lips: what was the tastiest homemade winter soup? With Devon farmer Rod Hall of the organic award-winning soup company Rod and Ben’s on hand to give advice, the dozen assembled soup-lovers discussed everything from whether soup tastes better out of a bowl or a mug, and if a hunk of granary bread makes the best accompaniment, to whether chunky has the edge over smooth soup and whether it should be served all year round or just in winter.

“Our first soup club was a great success and opened up a lot of debate,” says Rod Hall, who started Rod and Ben’s on his organic farm in Kenn eleven years ago.  “Quite soon it emerged that of all the soups we tried and talked about a Thai chicken and a carrot, lentil and spinach were the favourites and that nothing could beat a hunk of granary bread liberally smothered in butter ­to mop it up.  A finishing flourish of croutons and cream got the thumbs-up from our soup tasters, and smooth generally had the edge over chunky soup for the majority of members, both for winter and summer.

“The soup club was united in its preference of a bowl over a mug, and also believed that without a decent stock behind it your average soup lacks punch and depth of flavour. But the general consensus was that the beauty of soup lies in its versatility and lack of rules – if you’ve got quality vegetables straight from the soil and other tasty wholesome ingredients you are pretty much on to a winner. We’re all looking forward to meeting again next month to discuss more soupy matters.”