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May 20, 2010

Tools of the soup maker's trade: immersion blenders

Immersion blender 

Anyone can make soup. You don't need special skills or special equipment. A stove, a pot, a knife, a spoon, a recipe... and, sometimes, the type of fearlessness that lets you empty the contents of your refrigerator into a giant pot with absolute faith that the result will be soup. That's it. You can make soup with nothing more. And yet, I recommend one more item for the batterie de cuisine of any dedicated soup maker. An immersion blender (also known as a stick blender, hand blender or, as Alton Brown calls it, a boat motor) is a small appliance designed to chop or purée food in the pot or bowl in which it's prepared. In other words, no more transferring soup in batches to your stand blender. You can do all the work right in your stock pot.

I've had my Cuisinart immersion blender for more than 15 years, and it's as perky as the day I bought it. The very first soup I made was gazpacho, blended to the perfect texture in a large mixing bowl. This week I used the immersion blender for a big batch of asparagus soup. It can chop ice for cocktails, froth a latte and whip a smoothie, too.

Immersion blenders range from less than $20 to more than $100. An investment of $35-45 will buy a good quality, sturdy kitchen tool that can handle any soup you want to make. Look for one with variable speeds and settings for different tasks.

Have you used an immersion blender? Do you love it?

Comments

1
Posted by: Meeta | May 20, 2010 at 08:32 AM

mine is giving up it'S power and i fear i might have to invest in one. can't live without one!

2
Posted by: Kalynskitchen | May 20, 2010 at 08:48 AM

This is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I resisted buying one for the longest time, and when I got it, I couldn't figure out how I cooked without it. Besides using it to puree ingredients, I also use the bowl attachment for small chopping jobs when I don't want to get out the food processor. Well worth the investment!

3
Posted by: milton | May 20, 2010 at 08:53 AM

hint hint??? haha

mine is on a list....when asked recently what my goals are I replied to have a blender before the year ends!!!!...talk about high achievers LOL

4
Posted by: CJ McD | May 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM

It's a go-to tool in my kitchen. Great for soups, smoothies, salad dressings, fruit sauces and more.

5
Posted by: Amanda | May 20, 2010 at 10:28 AM

My incredibly generous in-laws bought me a Bamix immersion blender for Christmas. Next to my KitchenAid Mixer, this is my greatest kitchen item. It works like a dream and I use it all the time. It has a great wall attachment so that once you clean it, you can just hang it up instead of trying to find a drawer for it.

6
Posted by: Amy O | May 20, 2010 at 10:49 AM

This is my favorite kitchen tool of all time after my KitchenAid mixer. I received an immersible blender as a wedding shower gift, and it changed my life! When I was pregnant I used it to mix up all sorts of odd food combinations that I craved, and now that my little girl is a toddler, I use it to blend up her yogurt with frozen blueberries. I don't think I could live without it.

7
Posted by: Doug | May 20, 2010 at 10:51 AM

One of the biggest advantages of the immersion blender is that you can use it to puree boiling liquids. The first time I tried to puree a hot soup in my blender, I spent the rest of the day washing down the kitchen and peeling my scalded skin from the ensuing big bang. With an immersion blender, you don't have to cool things down first; you can whizz things that are still simmering on the stove. Plus you don't have to clean the blender. Indispensible!

8
Posted by: Rae | May 20, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Its in the top three of things I want to invest in. I loved using it at the resturant and it would make life so much easier.

9
Posted by: Nupur | May 20, 2010 at 11:20 AM

I've had my Braun immersion blender for 8 years, practically since I've had my own kitchen and I love it with all my heart. I use it for soups and also for curries and smoothies. Mine is a simple one with a "on" button, no speed control or anything but it works.

10
Posted by: Mary Hackney | May 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

I have a BaMix immersion blender and love it for soups, milkshakes, etc. It's also excellent for "rescuing" a gravy or sauce that has suddenly gotten lumpy. It's one of my favorite kitchen tools.

11
Posted by: Kathy - Panini Happy | May 20, 2010 at 12:32 PM

I recently had an experience similar to Doug's - tried to purée a little too much soup in a regular blender and had to enter a small hurricane of boiling soup to make it stop (exceedingly glad neither of my kids were anywhere nearby!). For this reason, I am now very on board with getting an immersion blender :-)

12
Posted by: Karina | May 20, 2010 at 01:58 PM

I love my immersion blender- and use it often (how did I ever survive without this nifty little invention?). Because it's so handy- with easy clean-up- I know make a lot more soups than I would have sans immersion blender. No excuse not to. ;-)

13
Posted by: Teresa | May 20, 2010 at 02:46 PM

I'm on my second immersion blender; the first, a Taurus? from Spain?, was maybe one of the first on the market and I loved it, even if the stem/blade was not detachable. Now I've got a new one, can't remember the brand, but the wand detaches - making this the easiest small appliance to clean up next to a knife. Basically I just hold it under running water until it is clean.

14
Posted by: Judy | May 20, 2010 at 03:52 PM

I, too, love my immersion blender! We tend to like pretty smooth soups, and it's so easy to bring them to the perfect consistency with an immersion blender! It's probably my second-most used appliance after my KitchenAid mixer (which I lovingly polish after each use). I have gotten one for each of my two older sons. I'm glad to see you writing about it - it is rarely mentioned in recipes or on cooking shows - as if it's the dirty little secret of making soups, sauces, etc.

15
Posted by: Janet | May 20, 2010 at 08:51 PM

I'm one of the odd men out on this one. I have one and very rarely use it. Once in a while for cauliflower/cheddar soup. I don't make smoothies or have lumps in gravy or mix berries into yogurt. For me, it one of the least used tools in the kitchen. Don't take away my cusinart though!

16
Posted by: Lydia | May 20, 2010 at 09:20 PM

Lots of immersion blender lovers here! My old one is a bit on the heavy side, and the newer ones are lighter and more powerful. It's great to hear about some of the models/brands you have. (And how nice for those of you who got yours as gifts from nice mothers-in-law!)

17
Posted by: susan g | May 23, 2010 at 12:36 AM

Another vote for the Braun. It comes with parts that attach to the motor base and they are all actually useful, though it's the basic blender that gets the most use. I find it needs to be deep enough in the soup (or whatever) so it doesn't fly away -- but there's a container to take care of that. Even a closed unit which can grind spices. Lydia, I like the all metal working part on yours -- that must make clean-up even easier.

18
Posted by: Sue | October 8, 2011 at 09:41 AM

I use my immersion blender not only for soups, but to "hide" veggies in sauces. My husband is not a vegetable eater, so I cook things like zucchini, yellow squash, onions, cauliflower -- things that will soften up -- into the sauce and puree.

He doesn't know the veggies he hates are in there. I do this with soups too, to thicken, and then add the veggies I know he will eat.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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