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The canned soup "doctoring" topic


jhlurie
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As I mention in the Campbell's Gold Label Select Soups Topic, I usually dislike canned soups intensely. But like everyone, I keep some on hand for emergencies.

In recent years my preference is to keep REALLY simple condensed soups and then doctor them with my own ingredients. I'm not sure it's getting over the base problems of all canned soups (over-salting being the biggest one, but also the included ingredients are almost always overcooked), but I find it helps.

I've found over the years that there are a LOT of things you can doctor soup with--more than just the obvious spices. So I propose we discuss and exchange suggestions.

The types of soup I usually bother with are:

  • basic condensed vegetable/alphabet soup
  • condensed Cream of Corn or Cream of Chicken
  • basic beef broth/consomme
  • basic chicken broth/consomme
  • condensed chicken noodle

Usually what I work with is based on what I have around, but some of the most useful I've found are:

  • Sricachi
  • Tofu (firm, but crumbled)
  • Cabbage
  • Lemon Juice
  • Fresh Herbs (yeah, an obvious answer, I know)
  • Soy Sauce (but not usually)
  • small or stringy pastas
  • milk
  • cream
  • parmesan cheese
  • left over chicken

Assuming you guys ever bother to do this, what do you use?

Also, I never microwave soup. It's just a quirk, but I suppose simmering fresh ingredients as a matter of course would require a burner anyway.

We should probably put a maximum time limit on how long is reasonable to prepare something like this. I mean this IS supposed to be an compromise to making REAL soup--so it's not worth a lot of effort. I think if it takes more than 5 minutes it's a waste of time. Obviously that makes using leftovers or pre-cut ingredients favorable.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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not in a can,

but ramen is made to be doctored.

hell, i even toss the packets

and add proper stock.

ramen:

the possibilites are endless...

-m

tampopo, inc.

Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself.

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I like ramen, but what bothers me is that the broth is never worth it. What tends to happen when I try to doctor ramen is that I pretty much wind up moving the noodles into something else. I'll often dump ramen soup into a wok and add stuff, and in that circumstance a lot of the broth evaporates anyway.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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OK, I'll jump in...........

Canned chicken broth, little carrots, celery, parsley............

and a rotisserie chicken from the market, juices included. Pull the meat from the bones (crispy skin included) and simmer it all with some broad egg noodles while you warm up the bread you just bought. You would swear it ws Grandma's old fashioned chicken soup!

Maybe 20 minutes, tops....... :rolleyes:

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OR:

chk broth again.........

canned tomatoes (small dice, juice, no skin)

Trader Joe's tiny little dried cheese ravioli

leftover meat, if you have it

shredded romaine at the last minute---top with Parmesan

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I think this is a Jacques Pepin recipe. I absolutely love it:

Cube some day-old bread, and brown it either in a pan on top of the stove, or under a broiler. Put it in the bottom of a soup bowl. Sprinkle cheese on it; I think he uses about 2 tablespoons of Swiss, but obviously several variations are possible. Pour hot chicken broth (I used canned) over, and sprinkle with chives or sliced scallions.

This is a perfect soup for a cold night, especially if you're worn out and don't feel like going to a lot of trouble. The broth can heat while the bread is toasting, and you're shredding the cheese and chopping the chives or scallions. And the whole idea is crying out for additions and/or variations.

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Well, all of you soup snobs should know that I, Mr Homemade, will eat one canned soup, but only in one circumstance. And, I found out on Friday at lunch that Julia Reed, ace pimento cheese reporter, agrees with me-unprompted, when I mentioned that grilled pimento cheese was best when served with tomato soup-she pointed out, in an instant, that only Campbell's Tomato would do.

She was right. Thomas Keller has yet to come up with a combination as sublime as homemade pimento cheese on white bread, toasted on a flat griddle until the cheese is gooey and the bread is golden brown and a big, steaming bowl of C-Red.

Just thought you would want to know this vital information. There is no need to improve on Cambells Tomato IF you have good pimento cheese.

Carry on.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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This all sounds very frightening.

The best thing you can do with canned soup is to make various casseroles out of it, a la Ms. Lucy.

I agree that Campbell's tomato soup is an ideal match to grilled cheese sandwiches.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Well, all of you soup snobs should know that I, Mr Homemade, will eat one canned soup, but only in one circumstance. And, I found out on Friday at lunch that Julia Reed, ace pimento cheese reporter, agrees with me-unprompted, when I mentioned that grilled pimento cheese was best when served with tomato soup-she pointed out, in an instant, that only Campbell's Tomato would do.

She was right. Thomas Keller has yet to come up with a combination as sublime as homemade pimento cheese on white bread, toasted on a flat griddle until the cheese is gooey and the bread is golden brown and a big, steaming bowl of C-Red.

Just thought you would want to know this vital information. There is no need to improve on Cambells Tomato IF you have good pimento cheese.

Carry on.

What he said........ :rolleyes:

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This all sounds very frightening.

Heck, you know how much I hate canned soup. We're talking like... two or three times a year in an emergency. I'd rather cheat and make it a LITTLE better than just eat it as is (although I'm trying that Campbell's Gold Label soup as an eGullet experiment, so I'm not really counting that).

I live about a block away from a decent chinese take-out restaurant. So most of my ad-hoc soup needs are taken care of.

Frankly I've always been one to throw random leftovers in my soup. This is just an extension of that.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Well, all of you soup snobs should know that I, Mr Homemade, will eat one canned soup, but only in one circumstance. And, I found out on Friday at lunch that Julia Reed, ace pimento cheese reporter, agrees with me-unprompted, when I mentioned that grilled pimento cheese was best when served with tomato soup-she pointed out, in an instant, that only Campbell's Tomato would do.

She was right. Thomas Keller has yet to come up with a combination as sublime as homemade pimento cheese on white bread, toasted on a flat griddle until the cheese is gooey and the bread is golden brown and a big, steaming bowl of C-Red.

Just thought you would want to know this vital information. There is no need to improve on Cambells Tomato IF you have good pimento cheese.

Carry on.

God bless you, Brooks, for reminding me of pimento cheese. There is nary an ounce of southerner in either me or my Mom, yet she used to make these sandwiches for me when I was a kid. Always on white bread. Preferably with the crusts cut off until I developed a taste for such things. Accompanied by either Campbell's Tomato or Chicken Noodle.

Hmmmm. Methinks it's time to break into the memory bank and whip up a batch of pimento cheese for my own brood.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Canned soup is something that stands alone as an independent food of a sort.

It really is nothing like anything else and should not have to pretend to be.

But - if the wish is there to "improve" it somehow, the best way is to stay true to the ingredients. If it is chicken soup, add more chicken chunks. A seafood soup, poach some shrimp or grill some fish and add. If it is a vegetable soup, dice some carrots, onions, celery and saute in butter till soft and stir in.

Chopped fresh herbs are always a good addition. Grated cheese of all sorts of varieties can work. Roasted peppers are nice sometimes.

The "ladies cookbooks" of the fifties used to advise "a teaspoon of sherry" should be stirred in before serving. Not a bad idea. In some of the newer varieties of soup, depending of the balances of flavor, probably a teaspoon of pernod or of other herb-based spirits might add a flavor layer also.

............................................

(Were you aware that when you go to a "deli" or a "coffeeshop" or any number of chain restaurants that the soups served are "canned"?)

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Also, I never microwave soup. 

Neither do I. I'm convinced that it holds its heat better if cooked on the stove. And I've got the physics right here to prove it! (Bangs on phone book.)

edited to add: Progresso split pea with ham takes chipotle hot sauce very nicely.

Edited by chrisamirault (log)

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The "ladies cookbooks" of the fifties used to advise "a teaspoon of sherry" should be stirred in before serving. Not a bad idea. In some of the newer varieties of soup, depending of the balances of flavor, probably a teaspoon of pernod or of other herb-based spirits might add a flavor layer also.

Yes, I love to add sherry or marsala into a can of Progresso. Usually the beef-based varieties. Lots of freshly ground pepper works well too.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I agree that Campbell's tomato soup is an ideal match to grilled cheese sandwiches.

Great minds, Jason. Great minds.

I feel so much better. I had thought Campbell's tomato was MY dirty little secret. :laugh:

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At least once or twice a month I sautee small diced onions and garlic, add a can of petite diced tomatoes and a few dashes of hot sauce to a can of Goya black bean soup. Pour it over a scoop of rice.

Bill Russell

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Go Ahead, Underestimate the Power of Soup (Slate, 2002) has some interesting things to say about canned soups .. perhaps the only way to best use them is as an ingredient in some other dishes (i.e. casseroles) .. that said, I think that some of the Progresso soups and even, on occasion, Wolfgang Puck's are bearable ... I like the tomato soups made by Progresso ... chunky tomato and tomato basil (to which I add fresh, julienned basil leaves).

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I always keep a couple of canned bean soups handy

(e.g. black bean or split pea also tomato soup- anything vegetarian).

If I'm in a huge hurry; I tarka a few appropriate spices

and voila! Instant dal!

Tomato soup can be turned into pretty decent ersatz rasam....

Milagai

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Baxter's canned soups are made in Scotland and are quite expensive in the US, but I keep a few cans around for emergencies. They have regular, lower-sodium and "healthy choice" (vel sim.) varieties. Adding a splash of marsala, madeira or white wine, or balsamic vinegar, does seem to cut the canned taste. Cream cheese is nice melted into tomato soup, and parmesan rinds simmered in vegetable soups.

My main use for these soups is when I have the flu or something and don't feel up to cooking at all, so that's about as much as I do to them. In those same situations miso soup packets do the job also; I sometimes add cubed tofu to those for nutrition.

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I agree that Campbell's tomato soup is an ideal match to grilled cheese sandwiches.

Great minds, Jason. Great minds.

I feel so much better. I had thought Campbell's tomato was MY dirty little secret. :laugh:

Campbell's tomato soup kept me alive in college. My senior year I had no money and used to eat half a can almost every day for dinner with one slice of day old bread. I don't eat it any more, but I still have a fond spot in my heart for it.

I almost never eat canned soup these days, but if it's lunch in a pinch, I fnd that most flavors are enhanced by lots and lots of pepper, and a knob of butter.

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I like the tomato soups made by Progresso ... chunky tomato and tomato basil (to which I add fresh, julienned basil leaves).

On a similar note...

Whenever I make pesto I always freeze some of it in the ice cube tray and then pop out the pesto cubes and keep them in a ziplock bag in the freezer. A cube of fresh pesto completely livens up Progresso Tomato soups. It's really good in their Minestrone too - sort of an instant Soupe au Pistou. :cool:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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