Chances are you have at least a few cans of soup chilling in your pantry. Maybe you’re planning ahead for those days when you’re sick and only have the energy to crack open a can of chicken noodle, dump it into a bowl, and pop it into the microwave. Or maybe you’re like me and you stocked up in a panic when a hurricane was heading toward Southern California for some reason (*cough* climate change *cough*), and now you want to turn them into suitable lunches and dinners rather than “oh shit, the power is out” catastrophe meals. Either way, there are quick and easy ways to upgrade your canned soups the next time minestrone or split pea is the path of least resistance.
My school cafeteria had an endless supply of saltine crackers they handed out by the fistful if there was soup on the menu, so I’m no stranger to this pairing. Unfortunately, the crackers at school weren’t Saladitas so it was a lackluster experience. Really, no other saltine crackers compare to Saladitas—they’re flaky, salty, crispy, and perfect to crush up and sprinkle atop a bowl of canned chili or, better yet, a soup that lacks texture, like tomato soup. I like to throw these in one at a time so they keep their crunch because I’m a sucker for extra pops of texture.
Read the full ranking of the best saltine crackers
- New York Bakery Original Texas Toast Garlic & Butter Flavored Croutons
If you’re a real crunch fiend and saltines just aren’t going to do the trick, try upgrading your soup with croutons. Don’t let salad have all the fun! New York Bakery Garlic & Butter croutons are perfect for this purpose. They’re super buttery and highly crunchy, so they can stand up to creamy and brothy soups alike. If you’re ever had split pea soup at a restaurant, it was probably served with some croutons, and we strongly suggest you give this a shot at home with the best split pea soup we tried in our taste test, Andersen’s Cream Split Pea. This is an essential pairing. You will love it.
Read the full ranking of the best croutons
- Horizon Organic Cultured Sour Cream
This is a less versatile addition than the first two, but that doesn’t detract from the glory of adding a dollop of sour cream to the right can of soup. Horizon sour cream is just. so. creamy. This is going to add so much pleasant, dairy flavor and a little tang to anything you top with it, but we think it’s particularly delightful with Dennison’s Original Chili Con Carne with Beans, our favorite canned chili in two separate taste tests. If you’re dealing with a chunky soup or stew that leans salty, sour cream really brightens up the flavor. It’s also perfect for turning regular ol’ tomato soup into creamy tomato soup with just a stir. And I don’t have to tell you it’s perfect on chicken tortilla soup, right?
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- Kirkland Basil Pesto
Honestly, half the reason I included this on our list is because I need help getting through the enormous jar of Kirkland Basil Pesto I bought a while ago. Believe me, this stuff tastes great (and the Sporked crew agrees), but 22 freaking ounces of pesto is in fact a lot to get through, so I’m always looking for creative ways to use it. Thankfully, a spoonful of pesto is a great addition to a can of minestrone or a tortellini soup. The fresh basil flavor really freshens up a soup that isn’t remotely fresh. If it works on pasta, there’s no reason it won’t work in your fave pasta-packed soup.
Read the full ranking of the best pesto
- Emporium Selection Not Your Average Cheddar Cheddar & Parmesan
Show me a bowl of soup that wouldn’t benefit from a sprinkle of nutty, salty cheese and, tbh, I will probably tell you that you’re wrong, no matter what soup you show me. It simply doesn’t exist! Now, you could buy a block of cheddar and a block of parmesan and grate them up separately, or you could save yourself the trouble with Aldi’s own two-in-one block of Not Your Average Cheddar & Parmesan. It has the meltability of cheddar with notes of the rich, complex flavor of parm. Do you love Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar? Well, this is a great dupe—and a great addition to canned soup.
Read the full ranking of the best Aldi cheese