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How to Make Canned Soup Better

by News Times USA


In Cheap Tricks, we’ll help you make the most out of everyday supermarket staples. Next up: How to make canned soup better—super, even.

There was a yearlong phase in my life where all I would eat for lunch was canned soup. I was starting a food business and had no time and even less money. Every day I would open a can, toddle over to the microwave, and pull my trusty bag of chopped herbs, spices, and miscellaneous cheeses out of the fridge—as my coworkers silently wondered if I was finally losing it. I knew what they didn’t: Like a blank canvas, a can of soup is full of infinite possibility. Ever since, those deeply misunderstood tins have held a warm place in my heart.

At least half of you reading this probably disagree with that sentiment. “Canned soup” are two objectively benign words that nonetheless tend to create division in just about any group. Some people ( 🙋‍♀️) adore them for their convenience and versatility, while others lob critiques that are decidedly not appropriate for the internet. Okay, I’ll admit: A lot of the dusty tins you find on grocery store shelves are a little, well, lackluster. But even if I’d opt for a brothy, homemade chowder or a hearty vegetarian ramen most of the time, canned soups are an affordable, faster-to-prepare option. Canned soup, like life, is what you make it.

All you need to prepare a steaming bowl of soup that rivals the homemade stuff, is a few key ingredients and a can-do attitude. Here’s how to make canned soup (and maybe your life?) better.

Start with an aromatic base

Pretty much every can of soup already contains aromatics. But to put some pep back in your soup’s step, you’re going to want to add more. Start by sautéing any combination of finely chopped vegetables and alliums—like onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bell peppers, and ginger. Whatever you choose is going to infuse the entire can of soup you’re about to heat. A shorter sauté will result in a sweeter, less potent base, whereas a longer cook will brown your ingredients for a deeper, more savory vibe.

All out of alliums? An aromatic base can also be achieved with sturdy herbs, spices, or condiments. Enliven plain (and thin) soups by blooming a combination in oil before heating. Sizzle a pinch of Madras curry powder, garam masala, equal parts ground cumin and smoked paprika, or a sprig of rosemary in your saucepan, then add butternut squash soup. Thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, and bay leaves work well with mushroom soup. And a can of tomato soup is practically begging to begin with a scoop of sautéed red curry paste or harissa or a sprinkle of dried oregano and basil.

Dilute, dilute, dilute

Chunkier soups, like black bean or lentil, tend to lean thick—and, it must be said, gloopy. To thin them out (and dial down the intense salinity), add more water or low-sodium stock while they’re heating. (If you overdo it, don’t stress: Continue simmering until the liquid has reduced to your desired consistency.) For virtually anything but the brothy bois, like chicken noodle soup or Italian minestrone, you could also stir in some coconut milk, warmed cream, or crème fraîche to add body and richness.

Behold your blender

When making her hammy chickpea soup, recipe developer and author Carla Lalli Music purées half for a best-of-both-worlds situation: creamy (without the dairy!) and chunky at the same time. Your thicker, bean- or veggie-based canned soups will benefit from the same treatment.



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