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Best immersion blenders for soups, smoothies

January 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Some chefs say one tool they can't live without is an immersion blender. We teamed up with Consumer Reports Shop Smart to test out immersion blenders that make it easy to whip up a soup with no big cleanup necessary.

Chef Leslie Lampert is well-known for her soups. She makes all kinds and says the key to her success is her immersion blender.

"You just put it in whatever size pot you have, and you can blend the entire contents of the stock pot in one fell swoop," said Lampert.

While Lampert uses a big industrial immersion blender, there are many available for home kitchens. Consumer Reports tested six to see if the blenders are all they're cooked up to be.

"To use these blenders, you hold them in one hand, dip them in whatever you want to mix, and then push a button to start," said Mandy Walker of Consumer Reports.

Some immersion blenders come with a chopper and a whisk, so you can use them to mix smoothies and whisk eggs, as well as purée soup.

To test, Consumer Reports puréed soup and blended frozen strawberries and peaches with yogurt to make smoothies.

The most expensive blender tested was the Bamix Professional for $180.

"However, it wasn't as good as the others at puréeing soups, and it was the lowest-rated blender," said Walker.

Yhe Waring Pro professional blender left behind a lot of chunks of un-chopped fruit.

But Consumer Reports found some winners and named the $50 Miallegro MiTutto a best buy. It rated excellent at puréeing soups and did nearly as well at making smoothies.

One good reason to buy an immersion blender is that there's less mess. Since you're blending everything right in the bowl, there's less to clean up. But be aware that immersion blenders can't match the speed or power of countertop models.