Moroccan Chicken & Pumpkin Soup

About a month ago, I was invited to try a few products from the range of McCormick’s Slow Cooker recipe bases, so I agreed to give them a try. Any of you who are long-time readers of the blog will know my personal feelings on premade flavour packages and instant products, but I’m open-minded enough to give any product the chance to prove me wrong.

Out of the 7 bases that I received and the 5 that I tried, this was by far the best of the bunch, but don’t mistake that for a glowing review, as it is not quite that.

I can understand the idea behind these slow cooker bases, to a certain extent. Some of my friends have confided in me that they are unable to work with spices or recipes so can never make the same dish taste the same as the last time they made it…so these sorts of products are for them:

It’s for those who are a little inexperienced with cooking and want ‘someone’ to guarantee that the end product will be edible, which also provides them with a scapegoat if it doesn’t (“Oh, it’s not my fault, it’s that product so I just won’t use it again”). I refuse to say that this line of slow cooker recipe bases are aimed at the time-poor because frankly, you still have to do all the ingredient prep anyway, to add the ground spices to the slow cooker yourself instead of cutting open and adding it from the packet would add all of 1-2 minutes of prep time.

The full ingredient list for this product is: Chick Peas (86%), Salt, Cumin, Garlic, Onion, Paprika, Flavour (contains egg & milk), Pepper, Turmeric, Sugar, Chilli, Coriander, Parsley, Soy Bean Oil, Food Acid (citric)

Think about how much this adds to the equation rather than if you added the ground spices yourself?

Anyway, the real test of the product was the taste. And I can honestly say that it wasn’t too bad. That’s not to say that it was good – I think they should add onion to the fresh ingredients list that people should add, and rethink their spice ratios as I found the broth itself to be quite bland and uninspiring, but it was certainly a passable soup and one that I can see as enjoyable for people who are used to more bland food and are unfamiliar with flavours such as cumin and turmeric.

The best description I can muster for this particular recipe base really is “Ethnic flavours for beginners”, make of that what you will.

I have no shame in admitting that I enjoy the slow food movement and that as a general rule you won’t see products like this in my shopping trolley, but if you’re looking for a nice easy dish to make in your slow cooker this winter and are unfamiliar with Moroccan flavours, then this might be one for you to try.


  1. I’m of the slow-food camp, too; I highly dislike boxed mixes for baked goods. My sister saw Betty Crocker brownie mix in the store today and wanted to buy it; I just stopped her and said, “You want brownies? I make them for you. Do not buy Betty Crocker.” Nothing wrong with it, it’s tasty, but frankly, homemade is tastier.


  2. Nothing beats fresh produce. The time it took you to prep the ingredients for the flavour base would not have been much more than to do the whole thing yourself. I think the problem is that not everyone has the basic pantry ingredients required for interesting cooking, or the guts to try!

  3. I’m with you. I just don’t get flavour mixes/packets. I also don’t get slow cookers. Many of my friends have them, but I just can’t get into them. One friend, an excellent cook, has one, but for some reason feels she has to use flavour mixes- the marketing has well and truly sucked her in.

  4. What a shame, but that’s why I avoid prepackaged flavour things too. I have a few in my pantry that I picked up at the Good Food and Wine show, but I no doubt bulk them up with extra flavours when I find myself eventually using them.

  5. I used to use jars and flavours like that all the time when I was a uni student.

    One of the reasons I stopped using jars like kantong was that I couldn’t open them, and some nights would start dinner, then have it still without the flavour jar at 11pm when my partner got home from nightfil!

  6. @Wei-Wei – I agree, there’s nothing like a good home-made dish, especially when comparing to a mixture out of a box!

    @InTolerant Chef – I agree wholeheartedly! I think a lot of it has to do with knowledge, unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who haven’t been brought up with a lot of home cooking and I find that they are the ones that these products are targeted to.

    @Green Mama – Oh dear :/ Maybe us food bloggers need to do more slow cooker recipes to try and show our readers that these flavour bases aren’t necessary?

    @Iron Chef Shellie – Likewise. To be honest, I have very particular tastebuds and those prepackaged flavour thingies just don’t make ’em happy!

    @Fiona – LOL!!! See, it’s just easier to make it from scratch (though your comment does conjur up a funny mental image, hehehe!)

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