While testing recipes for soup we wondered, what’s a cook to do if he or she lacks a blender, the author’s recommended puréeing tool? So we rounded up the most likely substitutes and pitted them against a blender in a purée-off.
Food mill: We couldn’t get the corn soup to pass through our food mill at all, and the zucchini and eggplant purées (passed through the finest disk) were too coarse to then make it through a mesh strainer to eliminate any vegetable fibers.
Food processor: Despite a slightly longer running time, the food processor purée was noticeably coarser than the blender purée and didn’t taste quite as flavorful. It did, however, strain with a minimal effort.
Blender: In the shortest time, the blender transformed our soup base into a full-flavored and very smooth, creamy purée. Straining was practically effortless.
Immersion/stick blender: Clean-up may be a breeze with a stick blender, but it took the longest run time to make a purée that was weak in flavor and had a fairly coarse and uneven texture. Straining required more elbow grease.
If you don’t have a blender, buy one: you’ll find plenty of uses for it. A food processor is an acceptable substitute for most puréed soups, but use a stick blender only as a last resort, and save the food mill for applesauce.