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Cooking for One with Packaged Soups

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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 cheeseGreek- chopped fresh or dried oregano, feta cheese, and leftover cooked pasta or riceSouth 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?

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