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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!