Let Canned Soup Simmer On The Stove For A Thick Pasta Sauce In A Flash

If you're looking to expand your pasta sauce horizons beyond the jarred marinara and alfredo sauce selection at your local grocery store, canned soup will open a world of possibilities. Jarred pasta sauce and canned soup share many of the same characteristics; they're both flavorful, stewed products with long shelf lives that save home cooks the time and effort of making a recipe from scratch.

Soups, however, encompass a much larger variety of flavors, ingredients, and textures. Consequently, they're an easy, pre-made answer to new and creative pasta dishes. While puréed soups like tomato bisque or cream of pumpkin soup have a thicker consistency that best mimics pasta sauce, you can turn any soup into a pasta sauce by letting it simmer over the stove. Simmering soup uncovered over the stove will thicken it by slowly evaporating the liquid content, achieving a creamier, more cohesive texture while also concentrating its flavors.

Simmering chunky, brothy soups like corn chowder, cream of mushroom, or lentil soup would provide a heftier and more texturally exciting sauce for pasta. Plus, canned soups full of vegetables, proteins, or legumes will provide pre-cooked pasta fix-ins, saving you the cost and effort of chopping and cooking additional ingredients.

Tips for making canned soup pasta sauces

Pasta is a comforting yet neutral ingredient that will welcome any flavor you decide to coat it in. That said, you can always tie flavors together with garnishes, drizzles, or other cooked ingredients. Since canned soup as a pasta sauce is a great way to repurpose leftover soup or otherwise provide a shortcut for a quick, effortless weeknight meal, you can likewise use leftovers or other premade ingredients to embellish your pasta dish.

For example, you can garnish cream of broccoli soup pasta with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and toasted pine nuts to give it an almost pesto-like flavor profile. Since cream of mushroom soup is a key ingredient in green bean casserole, you could add French cut green beans to the soup as it simmers for a pop of green before pouring it over fusilli or penne pasta and topping it with frizzled onions. Butternut squash soup, meanwhile, would be a delicious sweet and savory sauce for gnocchi. 

You can add freshly chopped kale or a bag of baby spinach to the pot of soup to wilt the greens before adding the gnocchi. Canned tomato soup is also a good substitute for marinara sauce to help cook a baked pasta dish like ziti or stuffed shells. If the canned soup is especially brothy, you could even try cooking pasta directly in the soup as it bubbles. The starches from the pasta will leech into the broth, thickening it as it cooks.