How To Make Instant Soup Taste Good When You're Too Tired To Actually Cook

If you have ever been too tired, too busy, or too stressed out to cook, then you probably have also found yourself reaching for a can of instant soup. The only problem? It's just so boring. Believe it or not, there are ways to make instant soup taste good, despite how bleak your current circumstances may seem. With a few simple tweaks, you can whip up an easy meal in minutes.

Before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out — instant soup can be delicious. It can be, dare I say, downright flavorful, decadent, and addictive. Anyone with the standard stocked pantry can turn instant soup into a meal that you will actually look forward to during the week. Whether you add something as simple as cheese into the mix to kick things up a notch, or build complex flavors with spices you know and love, you can take your instant soup to the next level without exerting that much additional effort. You simply have to know the go-to foodie solutions to doctor it up, and make it taste positively gourmet.

Here are my favorite ways to dress up that boring can of instant soup you have taking up shelf space in your pantry. 

1. Add fresh herbs

Adding fresh herbs after you’ve heated up your soup is a great way to bring out existing flavors, or add new ones. Chop up a little cilantro with tortilla soup, throw in some basil for a bland tomato soup, or add some chopped thyme to chicken noodle soup. The fresh herbs will enhance both the flavor and smell of the soup.

2. Throw in some spices

Using dried spices can bring depth to instant soups, especially if you use a few of them together to build up the flavors. You can try more standard spices such as garlic powder or onion powder, or you can get adventurous with curry powder, cumin, and star anise.

3. Add garlic, ginger, and onion

Garlic, ginger, and green onion are the true stars when it comes to dressing up your instant soups. You can infuse soups with much needed flavor by simply sautéing some chopped aromatics for a few minutes. Stir them into hot soup, and you’ll be surprised by just how much flavor you've created.

4. Add citrus

Citrus juices are perfect for brightening up heavier soups. Lemon, lime, and even orange juice can give a kick to bland soups that are just screaming for a little acidity.

5. Throw in anything with a crunch

Crusty bread for dipping; crackers, croutons, and nuts for topping — the list can go on and on. Bringing texture into the mix is one of the simplest and most effective ways to take your instant soup up a notch. Anything that gives you a crunch will fulfill the textural component you so sorely miss when eating soup. 

6. Include noodles

Noodles bring texture to soup as well, but in a slightly different way. Do you have some leftover cooked ramen, rice, or egg noodles? Throw them into a broth with some of the aromatics, and you’ve just created your own noodle soup.

7. Add shredded meats

Shredded meats like chicken or pork can help you pack protein into any can of instant soup. These meats are a great way to liven up some of the thinner soups that aren’t as hearty. You can even think about adding more chicken to chicken noodle soup (there is never enough chicken to begin with). 

8. Don't forget vegetables

If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or simply aren’t in the mood for meat, vegetables are your solution. Add some spinach or baby bok choy after you prepare your soup — these vegetables will cook quickly in the heat. If vegetables plus texture is what you’re after, add raw sliced peppers, corn, carrots, or sprouts.

9. Turn up the heat

Make it spicy! Sometimes all a soup needs is a little bit of heat. You can add spice to any soup with a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes. Don’t be afraid to give chile paste, Sriracha, and your favorite hot sauce a try as well.

10. Add cheese

Obviously, I saved the best for last. From Parmesan to mozzarella, cheddar to cotija, there is an infinite list of possibilities out there when it comes to cheese. Sprinkle or grate cheese just over the top of a bowl of soup to give a little added flavor. Stir in your favorite easily melted cheese to add creaminess. 

Ready to grab a spoon and dive in? You bet you are.

Images: The Little Epicurean; How Sweet It IsHow Sweet It IsThe Kitchn (3); Table for TwoDamn Delicious; Elizabeth, Liz West, Pat Knight/Flickr

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