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8 Low-Key Genius Ways To Turn A Plain Can Of Tomato Soup Into A Satisfying Meal

When you're both lazy and hungry, these soup upgrades are game-changers.

Confession: I freaking love soup.

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And while I love making it from scratch when I have the time, I am not above cracking open a can of the store-bought stuff for an easy and cozy meal.

But whenever I opt for canned soup, I try to add a little something extra in order to make it feel a bit more gourmet. Below you'll find eight ways I transform $2 grocery store tomato soup into a meal that feels more or less homemade. (And so comforting!)

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All of the following recipes start with a carton of Trader Joe's creamy tomato soup — but of course you can use any grocery store version. (Like Campbell's, Annie's, etc.)

A carton of Trader Joe's tomato soup.
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I happen to love T.J's tomato soup because it's super flavorful, very creamy, and for less than $3, it makes enough soup for a few meals. I pretty much always have a carton in my pantry.

All of the following recipes can be tailored to serve however many people you're cooking for. Just double, triple, or quadruple the ingredients. These soups also store well in the fridge or freezer so you can make a big batch and enjoy the leftovers for days.

Oh, and most of these recipes call for five ingredients or fewer, can be whipped up in about 20 minutes or less, and they're all super budget-friendly.

A before-and-after of plain tomato soup and upgraded tomato soup with poached egg and pancetta
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1. Shortcut Lasagna Soup

A bowl of tomato lasagna soup with ricotta and bow tie pasta.
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What happens when you take the flavors of lasagna and turn them into soup form? Well, it's pretty delicious. Make this soup with whatever pasta is in your pantry, with or without meat, and if you want, bulk it up with some sautéed veggies. (Zucchini, eggplant, or red bell pepper all taste amazing.) Just don't forget a generous scoop of ricotta cheese on top!

What you'll need:

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• Store-bought tomato soup

• Your favorite pasta

• Ricotta cheese

• Parmesan cheese

• Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

• Meat and/or veggies, if you want

How to make it:

A bowl of lasagna soup with ricotta and bowtie noodles.
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Shortcut Lasagna Soup: Boil pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, heat up the tomato soup in a sauce pan or in the microwave. Add cooked pasta, a big scoop of ricotta, and garnish with Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. If you're using ground beef, brown the beef in a skillet so that it is cooked through before adding it to the soup.

2. Tuscan White Bean Soup

A bowl of Tuscan white bean soup with kale and sun dried tomatoes.
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Protein-packed white beans and kale make this fairly basic soup super hearty — and vegetarian and vegan-friendly. You can always add some additional veggies like carrots, celery, or leeks. I love pairing this with some country bread for sopping up all the flavors.

What you'll need:

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• Store-bought tomato soup

• 1/2 can white beans or Great Northern Beans

• Big handful of kale

• Spoonful of sun dried tomatoes

How to make it:

Tuscan white bean soup.
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Tuscan White Bean Soup: Drain and rise the white beans. Heat tomato soup in a sauce pan until simmering. Then add the kale and stir until wilted. Add the white beans and a spoonful of sun dried tomatoes. Serve!

3. Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese Croutons

Tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons and grilled cheese on the side.
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IMHO, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of tomato soup paired with grilled cheese. But since you're going to end up dunking the grilled cheese anyway, why not turn part of the sandwich into cheesy little croutons? There's nothing quite like this cozy, cheesy, creamy bowl of goodness.

What you'll need:

Sliced cheddar cheese, white bread, and tomato soup.
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• Store-bought tomato soup

• Bread

• Your favorite sliced cheese (like cheddar, American, Colby, or a combo)

• Butter and/or mayo

How to make it:

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Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese Croutons: Make the grilled cheese sandwich: place cheese between two slices of bread, heat butter in a skillet, and spread mayonnaise on the bread (if using). Place the bread in the skillet and cook for about two minutes or until the cheese is beginning to melt and the bread is golden brown. Flip and cook for two more minutes.

A bowl of tomato soup with mini grilled cheese croutons.
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Move your grilled cheese to a plate and cut half or all into small squares. Heat up tomato soup in a sauce pan or in the microwave and top with grilled cheese croutons.

4. Creamy Tortellini Tomato Soup (with Freezer Prep Packs)

A bowl of tomato soup with tortellini and kale.
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Store-bought tortellini is an unsung hero of any kitchen. Toss it into a bowl of soup or combine it with your favorite pasta sauce and you've instantly got a meal that tastes gourmet. This combination of spicy sausage, kale, and cheese tortellini in tomato soup is pretty irresistible. And best of all, you can prep all of the ingredients and store them in the freezer for lazy nights.

What you'll need:

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• Store-bought tomato soup

• One or two spicy Italian sausages (casings removed)

• Handful of kale

• Store-bought cheese tortellini

• Parmesan cheese

One great thing about this meal is that you can prep all the ingredients (besides the tomato soup) and freeze them. Kale, cheese tortellini, and sausage all freeze beautifully. When you don't have anything to cook for dinner, you've got this on stand-by.

Ingredients for tortellini sausage soup ready to be frozen.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

How to make it:

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Creamy Tortellini Tomato Soup: Boil the tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, remove the spicy sausage from its casing and cook in a skillet until browned.

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Heat up the tomato soup in a sauce pan and add the kale until wilted. Then, add the cooked tortellini and sausage. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

5. Spicy Tomato Pesto Soup

Spicy tomato soup with pesto and croutons.
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At the surface, this bowl of soup doesn't look like much, but the taste is incredible. Between the nutty pesto, the spicy chili oil, and the crunchy croutons, every bite is a flavor explosion.

What you'll need:

Ingredients for spicy pesto tomato soup.
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• Store bought tomato soup

• Chili oil (such as Trader Joe's chili onion crunch)

• Pesto

• Pine nuts

• Croutons

How to make it:

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Spicy Tomato Pesto Soup: Heat up the tomato soup in a skillet or in the microwave. Crush up some croutons and sprinkle on the soup with pine nuts. Garnish with a generous spoonful of pesto and hot chili oil.

6. Instant Pot Taco Tomato Soup

A bowl of taco tomato soup with sour cream and avocado.
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This filling bowl has everything you love about tacos in soup form. The Mexican-inspired soup can be made totally according to your preferences. I use ground chicken, but you can use beef, pork, chorizo, or even your favorite meatless substitute. And as for the toppings, get creative!

What you'll need:

Ingredients for taco tomato soup.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

• Store-bought tomato soup

• Canned black beans

• Canned corn

• Ground meat (pork, chicken, or beef)

• Your favorite taco toppings

How to make it:

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Instant Pot Taco Tomato Soup: You can make this soup on the stove-top, but I like making it in my Instant Pot because it takes about five minutes flat and I can make a big batch at once, and leave it on 'keep warm' until I'm ready to eat. Sauté the ground meat until browned. Drain and rinse the black beans and corn and add to the pot until warm. Add the tomato soup and bring to a simmer.

A scoop of tomato soup with beans, corn, ground chicken, and avocado.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Top the bowls with your favorite taco toppings. I used sour cream, sliced avocado, and Cotija cheese, but anything from diced red onion and sliced jalapeño to tortilla strips and Monterey Jack cheese would be delicious.

7. Tomato Soup With Poached Egg

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This soup is almost like a play on eggs in purgatory or shakshouka, a Middle Eastern dish that is typically made with baked eggs in a spiced tomato sauce. Cook the eggs any way you like, but poaching or soft boiling gives them a runny yolk that tastes amazing in the tomato soup. A little prosciutto, pancetta, or bacon gives this dish a salty, savory kick, but you can always leave the meat out entirely. Just don't forget the bread for dipping.

What you'll need:

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

• Store-bought tomato soup

• One or two eggs, poached or soft boiled

• Meat, like pancetta, prosciutto, or bacon

• Ricotta cheese

• Bread for dunking

How to make it:

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Tomato Soup With Poached Egg: Poach or soft boil eggs in boiling water and set to the side. At the same time, heat up the meat in a skillet until crispy. Heat up tomato soup on the stove top or in the microwave.

A bowl of tomato soup with poached egg, ricotta, and pancetta.
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Once all ingredients are prepared, add the egg to the tomato soup with a scoop of ricotta cheese and top with the pancetta or prosciutto. Enjoy with crusty bread for dunking and sopping up the runny yolk.

8. Tomato Gnocchi Soup

Bowl of Tomato Gnocchi Soup
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Like tortellini, gnocchi is such a useful ingredient to keep on hand. You can find store-bought gnocchi either fresh or frozen. I love using frozen cauliflower gnocchi as a slightly lighter alternative to the potato-based version, but either tastes great in tomato soup.

What you'll need:

Ingredients for tomato gnocchi soup.
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• Store bought tomato soup

• Store-bought gnocchi (fresh or frozen)

• Handful of spinach

• Sun dried tomatoes

• Parmesan cheese

How to make it:

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Tomato Gnocchi Soup: Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. I like using Trader Joe's frozen cauliflower gnocchi, which I cook in a skillet with some olive oil to get the outside nice and crispy. Heat up the tomato soup in a sauce pan and once simmering, add the spinach until wilted.

A bowl of tomato gnocchi soup with spinach.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Add the cooked gnocchi to the tomato soup and garnish with sun dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

Do you have a favorite way of upgrading canned soup? Tell me in the comments below. And if you try one of these recipes at home, tell me what you thought!

For more SOUPer quizzes and recipes, check out all our Soup Week posts here from now through January 31!

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