Recently in the lab we’ve been working on high protein, low calorie instant soups – and it’s been teaching us a lot! We went into this project knowing that not all dairy proteins play nicely with heat, especially with water that is at or nearly boiling therefore we had to do some preliminary testing first. We were determined to develop a high protein blend that was mixable with hot or near-boiling water, easy to flavor like whey protein and could easily disperse without denaturing or clumping.
First, we set up our parameters and defined our constants: 1) the protein had to deliver a certain grams per 2) 8 fl oz of water. We designed a simple experiment to understand how each protein behaved when hot and boiling water was added (hot was 1800F, boiling 2120F). We planned to work with the following protein sources: Calcium Caseinate, Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Concentrate and Milk Protein Isolate. First we did single source testing to understand how each protein behaved in the varying water temperatures. Results from this simple experiment then lead to us building a blend that we then tested over both water temperatures. In the end we learned that we could achieve a blend that could 1) tolerate the high heats (both 1800F and 2120F), but we needed the texture to be smoother.
Once we determined the protein blend we then played with various hydrocolloids to help smooth out and build some body to the high protein soup base. We test many, many gums from acacia gum to xanthan gum, and what we learned is that guar gum in these situations seemed to work best. One great thing we learned with this is that gums also helped us eliminate the need for typical dispersing agents such as maltodextrins, which typically add empty calories that we could apply to other ingredients (after all it’s a low-calorie soup…so any calories that we could save will be better used elsewhere!).
Lastly, with this dairy protein and gum blend we went on to flavorings and inclusions. We selected flavor profiles based on what would be most synergistic with dairy proteins (i.e. cream of tomato soup, cream of chicken, broccoli & cheddar, tomato bisque, cream of mushroom or loaded baked potato soup). And all of the flavors we developed were a hit! And the best part? We were able to maintain our customer’s desire to deliver a high protein and low calorie soup (<150 calories per 8 fl oz serving). That’s soup-eriffic!