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Cooking for One with Packaged Soups

By Jaye Joseph, October 28, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jaye Joseph
Growing up, the minute it started getting cooler, my parents would whip up the first of many batches of vegetable soup. Their recipe is easy enough, but when cooking for one, I burn out on it pretty fast. That’s why I started doctoring up packaged soups — no waste and I easily add some variety to my soup options during the chilly months of winter. I find that soup is a great way to get a couple of servings of veggies into one meal. Opting for vegetarian or vegan soups means that you’re putting a whole lot of health into one bowl. Seeking out soups that are low in sodium will help steer you away from the high sodium levels that are often found in prepared foods. One of the best things about packaged soups is that they can act as a base for your own creations. Using your store’s salad bar, as well as some pantry items, you can create amazing meals for one that start from a package. For example, you may be surprised at how many ways you can change up a simple packaged roasted red pepper and tomato soup. With a few additions, you can turn this creamy, delicious soup into something you’d likely see in a restaurant. Try: Italian- a small splash of balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh or dried basil, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese Greek- chopped fresh or dried oregano, feta cheese, and leftover cooked pasta or rice South of the Border- diced green chilies, kidney beans, and chopped red onion Another favorite is packaged butternut squash soup topped with shrimp and a sprinkle of sea salt. You can find pre-cooked shrimp in the seafood department and buy only as many as you need for a single serving. With its rich, creamy texture and the sweet shrimp, this makes a satisfying one-dish meal that needs nothing to accompany it other than maybe a salad of baby spinach dressed with a squeeze of lemon. Here are some other ideas for making a great soup from a package: Hearty Minestrone — Start with packaged minestrone and add Parmesan cheese, some fresh greens, such as spinach or chard, and heat through until greens are tender. Souped-up Chicken and Wild Rice — Start with packaged chicken and wild rice soup and add some cooked kidney beans (often available on the salad bar, or from a can, rinsed and drained), chopped red onion and chopped tomato. Top with some sliced avocado and tortilla chips for a really hearty meal in a bowl. Lebanese Lentil — Add a pinch of cumin and cinnamon to your favorite lentil soup, as well as a handful of greens like spinach or chard and heat through. Some Lebanese recipes also call for egg noodles so you could throw in a handful if you happen to have some around. Fall Flavors Butternut Squash — Top butternut squash soup with a spoonful of crumbled blue cheese, some sliced apple and chopped walnuts. We want to hear from you! What are some of your favorite ways to doctor prepared soups?
Category: Food & Recipes




Megan says ...
Unfortunately I can't eat most of these packaged soups. Some contain autolyzed yeast extract or hydrolyzed vegetable protein. They give me horrible migraines. Just like MSG. Even the FDA considers them the same and lists them in the same group "Flavor Enhancers" on their website. http://www.fda.gov/food/foodingredientspackaging/ucm094211.htm I wish Whole Foods would stop carrying these flavor enhancers there's nothing whole about hydrolyzed and autolyzed additives. I love Whole Foods but would feel more confident shopping there if they didn't have these additives in their products.
10/28/2010 2:35:07 PM CDT
Christine says ...
Sounds gross, but I had a can of condensed cheddar soup that was collecting dust, and I decided to break it open while I was sick last week... I souped it up with a bunch of veggies - roasted corn, broccoli, cauliflower, some carrots, green beans and a little hot sauce - boy, was it amazing! My friend who is a "cheese head" from Wisconsin was thoroughly impressed. The possibilities are endless!
10/28/2010 9:20:26 PM CDT
Eva Mattedi says ...
I am married, but both, my husband and I travel a lot separately. I command you on publishing Meals for One! Very helpful in preparing meals for your partner ahead of time, and with limited Freezer space! Thank you! Eva
11/03/2010 10:13:19 PM CDT
Joel says ...
Megan, Whole Foods does carry soups with yeast extract and hydrolyzed vegetable protein, including the new line of Fig Food soups. Fig Food soup uses the same ingredients you use at home, and contain no flavor enhancers. Organic, too.
11/04/2010 8:11:11 AM CDT
Joel says ...
Oops, I meant to say withOUT yeast extract and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
11/04/2010 8:13:10 AM CDT
Amanda says ...
Lately I've been using Imagine's boxed tomato soup to make curry. I just heat up some curry and garam marsala in a frying pan with some oil, let the spices heat up for a minute, add about 1/2 a cup or so of tomato soup, and then add some beans, squash, rice, or whatever else is hanging out in my fridge. Then put sprinkle a little bit of salt on top if it needs it. It's GREAT! I'm going to try using Imagine's sweet potato soup instead of the tomato soup this week.
11/05/2010 1:46:18 PM CDT
Stephanie says ...
I had a box of Pacifico roasted red pepper and tomato soup, but I felt the flavor lacking a little, like plain tomato soup. So I added one roasted green bell pepper and a whole can, drained, of organic corn niblets. Whirl with an immersion blender or food processor and Voila! Big veggie flavor and more texture added to this bade made it a delicious veggie chowder. Sans heavy cream.
11/06/2010 8:53:12 AM CDT
Paul says ...
These are some great ideas, esp. adding spinach/cumin/cinnamon to lentil soup. As a vegetarian and a diabetic, I eat a lot of lentils because they are a great source of fiber and protein. My only caution with prepared soups is that you check the sodium, which tend to be high.
11/07/2010 5:56:12 AM CST
C says ...
I add some Whole Foods Mom's chic soup(1 cup) to my homemade chic soup(which has carrots/celery/onion/chic).......then add cilantro and diced tomatoes...LOL!
11/09/2010 6:58:37 PM CST