The thought of eating more fresh soups always appeals to me as does improving my diet by eating more vegetables in a no preparation, little washing up, quick to cook kind of way. But whenever I've bought them in the past, I have always found them too processed with too much pepper and too little taste. I must say that in the normal run of things, I am not a big pumpkin fan. To me their main purpose is for carving up into ghoulish faces at the end of October period. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the two pumpkin based offerings from New Covent Garden Soup Company. The first billed itself as a "perennially favourite recipe" combined with carrots. Although I beg to differ on the accuracy of this description, the soup was very good. Smelt great as it was being microwaved and had a nice lumpy texture that made you feel as if it had plenty of natural things in it. The whole family thought it was really very pleasant and were disappointed when the pack was empty. Next up was Thai Pumpkin with Coconut from the Organic Gourmet range. This was more of a grown up soup with a slightly spicy coriander flavour enhanced by the creamed coconut. Personally I thought it could have been spiced up a bit more to authenticate its Thai roots, but in all a thoroughly satisfying lunchtime experience. As for the packaging, the traditional recipe used the usual New Covent Garden style which is easy to recognise and functional, not terribly exciting but entirely adequate. The Organic Gourmet pack design is entirely different with much greater use of colour, and is much more attractive. However I would have to look twice before realising it is part of the New Covent Garden range so with the additional attractiveness, perhaps some of the brand recognition is lost. The fact you can microwave the soup in the pack means no bowls or saucepans are needed, a definite plus for anyone who has had to scour off soup welded to the bottom of saucepans left on the hob for a nanosecond too long. And they also worked much better than their milk equivalents used to. They opened easily and caused no explosions. Having re-tried fresh soups, I think they have improved immeasurably and would definitely consider trying other flavours and, having noticed they can be frozen, keep a couple by for a quick, healthy lunch. Julie Clay is a freelance PR and marketing consultant based in Bedfordshire. {{P&P }}