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Paeroa College student Hamish Buchanan, 18, has created AstroSoup, a freeze-dried soup business he says is the first of its kind in the country. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Student makes AstroSoup for the soul

A Paeroa College student’s innovative new business could turn soup into the next two-minute noodles.
Hamish Buchanan, 18, has this year taken part in the national Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) and with that, he’s created AstroSoup, a freeze-dried soup business he says is the first of its kind in the country.
The high schooler and fledgling entrepreneur said the reason for the brand was twofold: not only had he noticed a lack of ready-made and freeze-dried meals while on shift at Paeroa Four Square, but he often opted for convenient meals himself.
“During the school holidays, I would be home from school and almost every day I’d cook for lunch 2-Minute Noodles, because they were easy and I was lazy,” he said.
“But my parents were always on at me about how innutritious they were and how terrible they are for you, but they just tasted so good and they were so easy to cook.
“So, I thought: hey, what if I find something that is much more nutritious, but is something you can chuck in the cupboard and wait for a rainy day [to eat], and that is just as tasty as well.”
According to Hamish, freeze-drying his meals involves cooking the soup and then freezing the product in a vacuum chamber before slowly increasing the temperature, causing all of the ice in the food to sublimate [turn straight from a solid to a gas], leaving behind a “honeycomb-like” structure that returns to normal by simply adding water.
He said this preserves the vitamins and minerals, and allows AstroSoup to use chunks of real meat in its recipe.
The soup itself was cooked in the Paeroa Four Square commercial kitchen, and because freeze-dryers are hard to come by in New Zealand, Hamish had to fly down to Real Meals in Nelson with a big box of soup – labelled ‘fragile’ – as his checked baggage.
The soup was freeze-dried, packaged, and was now available to purchase – although it’ll likely be a limited time offer.
Once finished with high school, Hamish will spend a year undertaking a discipleship training internship at Kauaeranga Valley Christian Camp.
He’s also interested in pursuing higher education which focuses on engineering.
“I came into [business studies] this year, knowing it would be a challenge and knowing that I’d probably have to do it all on my own, which is a lot, but I am super proud of what I’ve been able to achieve,” he said.
The Young Enterprise Scheme is designed so secondary school students are able to set up and run a real business.
The Waikato regional finals will be held on November 1, with the national awards on December 6.
DETAILS: Hamish’s AstroSoup is beef, butternut, and bacon flavoured and comes in a single-serve ready-to-go bowl, and a four-serve saver pack, available from Paeroa Four Square. For details on AstroSoup visit: