5 Ways to Make Canned Soup Taste Better

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Take your canned soup from boring and flat to vibrant and tasty using these five easy tricks! These budget-friendly hacks will work with any type of canned soup.

Canned Soup: it’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s certainly not the best, either. Most of the time I reach for a can of soup when (1) I’m tired, (2) I can’t be bothered to cook an actual recipe, and (3) I still want to eat something that’s nutritious.

To be honest, I quite enjoy canned soup now, thanks to these 5 foolproof tips to make it taste better! Also, I’m willing to bet that you have everything you need to amp up your soup in your pantry, right now.

Did you know there’s an actual scientific reason why your mom’s homemade soup tasted better than canned soup? It’s called volatile flavor compounds. Heat helps to make food taste great, but is also actually contributes to flavor loss. That means the more you heat a food, the more of these volatile (or airborne) flavor compounds escape. Canned food is nutritious and totally fine to eat, but the food that goes into the cans undergoes  cooking procedures that can account for flavor loss. Luckily, I have 5 easy ways to amp that flavor back up and to turn your canned soup back into a delicious meal: 

garlic, onion, and celery with bowls of soup on marble background

1. ADD AROMATICS

Aromatics are the combination of vegetables and herbs heated in fat (like oil or coconut milk) at the beginning of the dish to add flavor. There’s a reason why most recipes start out by cooking some onion and/or garlic in oil – it tastes delicious! And it’s a great way to add flavor to your soup with only 1 or 2 ingredients.

The easiest aromatic to add is garlic. It’s cheap, it’s easy to chop, and it makes every savory dish taste better 😉 Just make sure to sauté it in 1-2 teaspoons of oil before you add your soup to the pot to really maximize on flavor. If you happen to have extra chopped veggies (like onions, bell pepper, or celery) on hand, those are great to add too!

bowl of minestrone soup with small white dish of spices on marble background

2. SPICE IT UP

Dried herbs and spices are the easiest and most budget-friendly way to add flavor to your canned soup. They’ll last forever in your pantry, and you don’t need to add much to get a good kick.  

You can can add almost any spice to a soup to help it taste better, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Italian seasoning: this blend of dried herbs works great with tomato-based soups, lentil soups, and more
  • Smoked paprika: this vibrant spice helps to add smokiness, a subtle sweetness, and depth of flavor
  • Black Pepper or Cayenne pepper: spicy spices help to add a kick to your soup, but they also excite your tastebuds and make all of the other flavors more pronounced – even if you only add a pinch!  
  • Curry Powder: this Indian blend of spices won’t work with every soup, but it can help to add a ton of flavor and body to an otherwise bland can of liquid.

Still not sure what spices to add? Read the ingredients list – see if any spices are already listed there, or simply imagine what spices you would normally add to the vegetables you see on your can.

bowl of pea soup with slice of bread next to potatoes and pasta on marble background

3. CARBS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND

Sometimes soup can taste generally ok, but it’s only made of low calorie vegetables – ie, not a good meal replacement. If I’m going to the effort to make my soup taste good,  I want it to satisfy me and not go hungry a few hours later. In those cases, it’s great to add carbs and/or protein to your soup to make it more nutritionally balanced.

Carbs are basically the ultimate comfort food, and will help any can of soup feel more cozy. For example, adding cooked pasta or diced potatoes to a soup is a great way to make it more filling. You can also serve the rice over a baked potato or rice, or even alongside a piece of toasted bread!

If you’d like to add more protein to your soup, things like beans, bean-based pasta, tofu, or tempeh are all great ideas. Just be sure to simmer them with your can of soup long enough so they fully absorb the flavor of your soup before serving.

lemon, hot sauce, and balsamic vinegar on marble background with 2 bowls of soup

4. ADD ACID

In general, it’s always a good idea to add acid to a dish if you think it tastes great, but just needs a little pop. Acid helps to balance and lift the flavor of any dish, and can work wonders with canned soup.

Some great examples of acid include:

  • Fresh lemon juice: this is best to add at the end of cooking, otherwise the lemon flavor can become bitter 
  • Cooking Vinegars: such as balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or even apple cider vinegar
  • Hot sauce: helps to add both acid and heat, so you’re getting even more bang for your buck. 

bowl of lentil soup surrounded by cilantro, spinach, and green onions on marble background

5. GREENS ARE GREAT!

Sometimes you just need to add a little something fresh to soup. Adding greens is a great way to add a pop of color and flavor to an otherwise sad can of soup.My favorite green to add is baby spinach – it cooks down quickly, so all you need to do is toss in a handful of leaves at the end of cooking and stir until wilted. 

You can also use greens like kale, chard, or collard greens. These vegetables  take longer to cook, so you’ll need to add them a few minutes before you finish warming up your canned soup. Another great way to add greens to your soup is in the garnish — fresh herbs and green onions can add a nice pop of flavor and some textural variation.

And that’s it, friends. Did I miss your favorite way to spice up your soup? Leave a comment below and let us know 🙂 You can also leave a comment on my YouTube channel – I filmed a video on this topic as well:

Finally, if you’re still not satisfied with your can of soup you can check out all of our easy and tasty soup recipes on the blog!

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. My mother always added a little sugar to her homemade soup. It tends to bring out the flavor. Her soups especially vegetable-minestrone was so good her neighbours asked for that soup as a Christmas gift. It had everything in it!

  2. I top tomato soup with crushed up croutons and yellow cheese. It’s just like a grilled cheese on top of my soup. But I am going to try some of the tips you have posted here. I get on a soup kick every winter. Thanks

  3. I never liked the taste of canned soup, nor my children. But now I am confident to try it once again after reading your advice!

    1. I am not fond of the taste of canned soup…
      I can not tell you if I would like the taste of your children, as I do not go around tasting kids…
      LOL!!!
      Anyway, I did like the taste of the STORE BRAND at GERBE’S [ie; Kroger] of those spaghetti rings.
      It appears that no one just carries the rings anymore, they all have those gross meatballs or hot dogs in them.

  4. It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post.

  5. I think I love you.
    You’re adorable, and I’ve been following you since 2017 so.. that’s a lot of time! 🙂
    I wish I had your creativity and skills… All I can do is try to eat more plants, increase my photograph skills, and write interesting posts for my blog!
    In the meanwhile, I’ll absolutely follow your advice to make canned soups suck less 😉
    Have a nice weekend! xx
    Cristiana

    1. Thanks so much! The biggest thing is just consistency and enjoying what you do! Glad you’ve been following for such a long time!