16 Additions To Boost The Flavor Of Canned Tomato Soup

Sometimes, you feel like making an elaborate meal from scratch. Other times, though, that's just not an option. Our days get busy and our stomachs start grumbling, and that's when you just have to throw together a meal as quickly as possible. This is where prepared pantry staples like canned tomato soup come into the picture. Although the Warhol muse generally isn't going to make a super-filling meal on its own, it's possible to combine it with a variety of spices, produce, and proteins beyond the standard grilled cheese pairing to make a filling, delicious meal without having to prep much at all. 

But if you're drawing a blank when it comes to pairing tomato soup with other ingredients, we've got you covered. We've listed some of our favorite additions to take the contents in that can from blah and bland to absolutely delicious — and the good news is most of these hacks are easier than you may be thinking. 

Fresh cracked black pepper

Of course, you don't always need a super-filling meal from your can of tomato soup, which is why simple spices can be the way to go if you're looking to add a pop of flavor to your otherwise-average bowl. If you want to keep things as fuss-free as possible, you need to start with some fresh cracked black pepper. Powdered has its place, but if your goal is to make your tomato soup as delicious as possible, you'll pass on it for this recipe. Freshly cracked black pepper has a more intense, fruitier flavor to it, which will complement your tomato soup nicely.

Your best bet is to always keep some peppercorns and a pepper grinder on hand in your kitchen. Then, when you need to add some flavor to a dish (or some tomato soup), you'll always be ready to go. One of our favorite types of peppercorns is Tellicherry, which has a more developed flavor than other varieties you tend to find on store shelves. If you can't find these peppercorns at your local grocery store, you can always snag a bag of the stuff online.

Red chili flakes

Freshly cracked black pepper is a solid option if you want to add a touch of flavor to your canned tomato soup, but what if you want flavor and heat? If that's the case, then you're going to want to step it up a notch and opt for some red chili flakes. To us, red chili flakes are an essential pantry staple that can add the perfect amount of heat to just about any dish. Since they don't have a bunch of added ingredients like you'll often find in hot sauces, it's easy to add them to something like canned tomato soup to give it some heat without altering the flavor drastically.

Not used to that much heat? We recommend starting slow when it comes to adding chili flakes to your canned soup. Start with just a few flakes, taste the soup, and continue sprinkling more in if it's not yet hot enough for your taste.

Heavy cream

When you make fresh tomato soup at home, you can add as much fat as you want to the pot, giving the soup a richness and intensity that takes the flavor up a notch. But if you're opting for canned tomato soup, there's a good chance that it'll come out of the can pretty thin and uninteresting. Luckily, you don't have to add much to make it rich, creamy, and delicious. Take that leftover heavy cream you have in your fridge, and add it to the pot while you're warming your soup up. Just a touch of it can contribute to the dish's slight richness, but you can add a decent amount of it if you're ultimately looking for a super-creamy situation.

We prefer heavy cream when we're trying to achieve that creaminess in our soup, but if you don't have any on hand, you can also add some full-fat milk to the mix as well. It won't be quite as creamy, but it will add an extra layer of fatty complexity to your canned tomato soup. 

Grated Parmesan

How can you ever go wrong with cheese? We already know that canned tomato soup and grilled cheese is a match made in heaven, but if you don't want to go through the hassle of preparing the sandwich, you may want to skip the bread and simply add the cheese straight to the soup. You can use pretty much any type of cheese that appeals to you, from the shredded Mexican cheese you got from the dairy section of the grocery store to those yellow American slices that are standard for grilled cheese. But if you ask us, the very best cheese to add to your canned tomato soup is freshly grated Parmesan. It has a salty, umami flavor to it that plays exceptionally well with the acidity of the tomato soup, and because it's a hard cheese, it can hold its own even after it melts a bit.

Take a block of Parmesan and your cheese grater, and add as much of the cheese to the mix as you want. We love it when we get a little hill of the stuff on top of our bowl of soup before we mix it in and give the whole dish a cheesy upgrade.

Fresh basil

There are a few ingredients in this world that can completely transform a dish, and fresh basil just happens to be one of them. The popular herb is intensely floral, and adding even a few leaves of it to your canned tomato soup will enhance the flavor dramatically. We love to chiffonade our basil (cut it into tiny strips) to release as much of the flavor as possible, then stir it into the soup so we get a bite with every mouthful. However, you can also keep the leaves intact if you don't want to take that extra step. Blending the basil into the soup is also an option if you're trying to go the extra mile.

Of course, you can always just use the dried basil you have in your spice cabinet, but be warned: You're not going to get the same flavor intensity as you would if you were to use the fresh stuff.


One of the biggest problems with eating a can of tomato soup for lunch is the fact that it's just not that filling. Sure, it may curb your hunger pangs for 30 minutes or so, but after a while, your stomach is going to start grumbling again, and you'll be back to square one. That's why we think it's such a good idea to add some pasta to your tomato soup. This will bulk it up and ensure you're getting enough calories in your meal. The best part is the fact that you can use just about any type of pasta you have sitting around in your pantry. Whether you choose long spaghetti noodles or opt for something smaller like elbow macaroni, you'll have a recipe for success.

You can use pasta in your canned tomato soup in a few different ways. To keep it soupy, use some water to thin out the soup before adding your pasta. If you're looking for more of a tomato–pasta dish, you can actually cook the noodles in the tomato soup itself. And if you're willing to go the extra mile, you can even make creamy tomato tortellini soup (go canned instead of homemade soup with the addition of the stuffed pasta, heavy cream, Parmesan, and spinach). Lunch doesn't get much easier than that.

Roasted chickpeas

So, you want to add some protein and bulk to your canned tomato soup? That's no problem when you opt to include some crispy roasted chickpeas in your recipe. If you have dried chickpeas in your pantry, you'll have to soak and boil them ahead of time, then drizzle them with olive oil and roast them in the oven right before you get ready to serve the soup. Slightly roasted chickpeas will give your canned tomato soup a heartier flavor and texture, while well-roasted chickpeas can add some much-needed crunch to a simple canned soup.

The trick here is to make sure that your roasted chickpeas are well-seasoned. At the very least, they should be salted so they don't taste bland and boring once you add them to the soup. But we also love to toss them with some black pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper for an added kick of flavor.

Toasted nuts

If you're like us, you sometimes end up with a container of uneaten nuts that sits in the back of your pantry for weeks at a time until you think of something to do with that. That's certainly the case when it comes to nuts that you don't eat for a snack on a regular basis, like pine nuts. If you're wondering what to do with those leftover nuts, you're in luck. Why not just add them to your canned tomato soup? Their nuttiness tends to work well with the bright acidity of tomatoes. But for us, it's mostly about the texture. Tomato soup is such a texturally simple food that the crunch of roasted nuts can make a significant difference when it comes to your dining experience.

Don't be afraid to try something new when you're working with toasted nuts in your canned tomato soup. Pine nuts are always a delicious option, but you can even add peanuts, almonds, or cashews to the mix if that's all you have on hand.


If you happen to have some seafood on hand, you're in luck — you can make a super-simple but delicious dish using canned tomato soup as a base. Ever heard of cioppino? It's an Italian-American seafood soup that utilizes a tomato paste base. However, if you don't have any tomato paste on hand, you don't have to force yourself to head to the store. A can of tomato soup can work just as well. Just use the tomato soup in place of the tomato paste, and don't add quite as much water or broth as the recipe calls for.

You can get creative with the type of seafood you choose to add to your cioppino. Shellfish, like mussels, crab, and clams, work especially well here, and they're incredibly easy to cook. However, you can also use white fish, shrimp, or even scallops if you want to add even more types of seafood to the mix.


We love canned tomato soup, but the one main thing it's missing is texture. Sometimes, you may get a chunky tomato soup in a can, but generally canned tomato soup tends to be a single texture without anything else going on. And eating a whole bowl of a dish that has a homogenous texture and flavor can quickly get boring. That's why croutons can make such a big difference. 

First of all, croutons are generally well-seasoned before they're toasted to their crunchy texture, so they add some much-needed flavor to the mix. Most importantly, though, croutons provide the crunch a basic tomato soup needs. With just a handful of croutons, you can make a plain canned tomato soup into something you'd actually order at a restaurant. Add some cheese on top, and you'll have a gourmet starter on your hands. Plus, the extra carbs will make your soup that much more filling as well.

Shredded chicken

Have some of that leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge that you need to use up? Trying to think of something to do with the single frozen chicken breast you've been keeping in the freezer for a month? We've got a solution for you: Shred it up and add it to your canned tomato soup. On its own, there's not much in canned tomato soup that's going to keep you full for very long, so adding some protein is a great way to make your soup more filling — and more satisfying on the flavor front. And since a lot of us already have shredded chicken (or chicken that can be shredded) in our kitchens, it's generally something that's easy to add to a can of tomato soup.

We recommend cooking and seasoning the chicken separately before adding it to the tomato soup if you want to maximize flavor. Pan-frying the chicken in some fat or oil before placing all the ingredients together can make this meal even more delicious.

Ground beef

If all you're eating is a can of tomato soup, you're probably not going to stay very full for long. That's why you may want to add some bulk to your meal. One way of doing that is by incorporating some protein into your canned tomato soup. This is where that package of ground beef you have in the back of the freezer comes in handy. Cook it up on the side with some salt and spices, then add it to your canned tomato soup. Yes, the combination of tomato soup and ground beef will be more filling than the tomato soup would be on its own, but that cooked beef is also going to lend plenty of flavor to the soup, giving it a richness that it could never achieve on its own.

Want to add even more elements to this hearty soup? Rice adds some much-needed carbs into the mix, and you can throw in some frozen veggies for even more nutrition.


For some people, avocado belongs on literally everything, and canned tomato soup is no exception. If you're one of these people, then let this be your sign to cut up that softening avocado you currently have in your kitchen and add it to your tomato soup. Avocados are one of those fruits that have very little flavor themselves, so they're a perfect addition to plenty of dishes. They don't interfere much with the other flavors in the mix, but they do add a distinct creaminess that can make an average canned tomato soup much more interesting and filling.

We personally like to slice our avocado into thin slices before adding it to our tomato soup so we get a bite of that creaminess with every spoonful. Half of an avocado is probably all you need for a single can of soup, but if you're a true avocado enthusiast, we won't judge you if you want to add the whole fruit. One thing is for sure: Your soup will be a lot more filling if you take this route.


Even if you get a chunkier canned tomato soup, you're mostly dealing with soft, slippery textures. In fact, you can easily drink most tomato soups out there. If you want to experience some crunch in your tomato soup but don't want to have to do any additional cooking, pull out that bag of pretzels that you have in the pantry. A handful of crushed-up pretzels is one of the easiest ways of adding texture to your soup. Plus, you'll also get a dose of saltiness, which makes the dish even more appealing.

The only thing you'll want to keep in mind if you add pretzels to your soup is the fact that it won't take long for your pretzels to get kind of soggy. Therefore, make sure to sprinkle them on right before you dig into your meal — you don't want to let them sit in there for several minutes getting soft before you start eating.


Part of the reason that canned tomato soup can seem so thin and lacking in heartiness is the fact that it usually doesn't contain much fat, if any at all. Fat is an important component in helping you feel full, so eating a can of tomato soup with nothing else in it probably isn't going to play a huge role in reducing your hunger levels. But adding some fat — and some protein in the process — is a smart way of ensuring your canned tomato soup actually helps fill you up. That's why we love adding bacon to our soup. Not only does bacon provide plenty of fat, it also offers a ton of flavor. Just adding a small amount can have a significant impact on how your canned soup tastes.

There are a few different ways you can incorporate bacon into your meal. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, you can just throw some pre-packaged bacon bits into the mix. It won't take you very long, and it's a super-easy way to add a ton of flavor. However, you can also cook your bacon from scratch and add larger pieces to your soup. By taking this route, you're also adding an interesting textural element along with flavor and fat.

Poached eggs

Have some eggs on hand? If so, you're in luck — you can prepare a makeshift shakshuka at home. Keep in mind that this isn't going to be like a real fire-roasted shakshuka recipe, but if you just want to enjoy the flavors of cooked tomato and egg together, this is an easy way to do so. Heat your tomato soup in a pan, and if you don't want the texture to be too watery, simmer it down for a minute so it gets thicker. Then, poach your eggs in the liquid, covering the pan so the tops of the eggs cook evenly. You can then add any herbs or seasonings you enjoy with your eggs. We think adding a bit of harissa or chili crisp on top can make for an interesting meal.

If you really want to go all out, make sure you add some seasonings to take this shakshuka-like concoction to a whole new level. For example, you may want to consider adding some paprika, cumin, chili powder, and peppers. Freshly chopped cilantro and parsley can add a lovely freshness to the dish.