This is the enemy…
Canned soup takes about 5 minutes to cook. The hardest part is probably opening the can. Just open, pour and heat. You don’t even need to add water anymore. The convenience of the soup in a can is extraordinary. Even for clean up- you just have to wash one dish. However, canned soup has some pretty serious problems. Among those are bland broth, way too much salt, mushy vegetables, and slick, slide down your throat noodles. You all know what I’m talking about. I also feel like every canned soup tastes the same. Especially when you get to the lighter, less chunky, low sodium, low fat kinds.
Today I want to discuss some ways to remedy some problems that you find from canned soup because let’s face it, not many people have time to sit by the stove waiting for ham hocks to release their delicate pork flavor into a mix of freshly made chicken stock and tender vegetables.
The thing is that I think we have all forgotten how soup is supposed to taste. Our taste buds have been scarred from years of Campbell’s Chicken and Stars. Don’t forget that soup is allowed to have flavor! And good flavor at that!
Let’s start with your basic vegetable soup with a vegetable or tomato base. Things will start off pretty tasteless, so let’s talk about how we can mix things up.
Instant Couscous- couscous takes 5 minutes to cook. While you’re heating up your soup on the stove, sprinkle in some couscous. This will not only add some starch to thicken your both, but also a great consistency. Even if the soup already has some barley or noodles, adding some couscous really can’t hurt.
Lemon Juice-I know this might seem a little weird, but lemon juice adds a great acidy flavor to soup that is bland. Don’t add too much because you don’t want the soup to taste like lemonade, but just a little give the broth a nice bite.
Some good Olive Oil-I think I’m taking a page right out of Ina’s book when I say “good olive oil.” But I mean it! If you have some olive oil that doesn’t come out of a family size jar, add some in. It will give the broth a fruity and olive like flavor. This will also help to balance the acidity of the lemon juice.
Herbs and Spices-Just because your soup is already pre-herbed and pre-spiced doesn’t mean you can’t add some more. I love to add some basil, rosemary and thyme to all my canned vegetable soups. Even if you don’t have it fresh, dried works just as well.
Dairy-look. I know you’re all scared of what I’m about to tell you. Add some cream to your soup. I know cream is a scary word. It means calories and fat and obesity and high cholesterol and diabetes. Stop thinking all that! The truth is that you will probably add about a tenth of the amount of cream that most restaurants do. I think you should pour about a tablespoon of cream into your soup. It will lighten the broth. It adds soooo much flavor and is delicious. In the grand scheme of things, you will be able to burn off those few extra calories from doing laundry or sneezing three times. Just add it. It will make you feel all warm and happy inside and will transform your soup.
These are just a few examples of things that will turn your soup from Blah to Voila. Some of them may be intimidating but just try it. We all need to have canned soup from time to time, especially now that it is freezing outside. Why not channel your inner chef and throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
So good luck everyone! Keep warm and snuggly!