Amanda Argent, 56, co-founded Soupologie, a range of vegan and gluten-free soups, in 2012 with her husband Stephen, 61, and their daughter Anastasia, 26. They live in London and have three other daughters, Fredericka, 32, Victoria, 29 and Henrietta, 27.
My husband Stephen and I met at a party — I remember being 17, but telling him I was 18! We married when I was 20. Soon after, I gave up my job in sales to raise our brood.
Our daughters were mad about animals and became vegan in their teens. But they didn’t like vegetables, so they were living off pasta and chips. I was horrified.
I thought soups might be a good way to trick them into getting their five-a-day. But I couldn’t find any ready-made ones that weren’t packed with salt, artificial flavours, and thickening that seemed to be hiding the fact there weren’t many vegetables in there at all.
Amanda Argent, 56, (pictured) who lives in London, reveals inspiration for Soupologie came from trying to get her vegan daughters to have their five-a-day
So Stephen decided to have a go at making it. He figured out that if you blend the vegetables for ages, it creates a creamy texture. I’ve never been a very good cook. I’ve almost burned the house down on occasion, so eventually I left the cooking to him. As a result, Stephen became increasingly experimental. The children got involved in the kitchen, too, and it was quite the bonding experience.
We started serving soup at dinner parties and it was a huge hit. Friends and family suggested we try selling it. In 2011, we sold our vegan pea and leek, and tomato and lentil soups at our first market. We were bowled over by how much people enjoyed them. This was our lightbulb moment. I recall standing in the kitchen one night in May 2012, surrounded by pots to fill up, and I told Stephen, ‘Let’s do this’.
We spent £50,000 of our savings to fund a commercial kitchen, work with a nutritionist and set up the website and branding. It felt like a huge risk. In 2013, we launched our first Soupologie range into Whole Foods and Planet Organic. By 2015 we’d made it into Ocado, followed by Waitrose. We have just launched five-a-day ready meals in Tesco under the brand Foodologie.
Yum: From £1.70, soupologie.com
We want to be transparent with the labelling. All of our meals meet the green traffic-light system, with low salt and fat content, and the packaging is recyclable.
Since lockdown, our online sales have grown and we’re expecting our turnover to double this year. I think people are now more aware of the importance of eating well.
Now Stephen and I are vegan, too. We have at least one of our soups every day. It gets you off the hook with the cooking, too.