Some soup mixes are complete when you buy them and all you add is
water for delicious soup. Others require that various ingredients are
added during preparation. The most common addition is broth or stock.
Cream or milk is another common addition. Many mixes also have
suggested additions which enhance the soup mix but are not required.
I have found the keeping some simple items in the pantry and freezer
will let you make any soup mix your own homemade delight. The great
part is that with the additions shown below, you can greatly enhance a
soup mix with only a minute or two of additional preparation time.
Soup mixes by their nature have smaller size pieces of dried
vegetables, mushrooms, etc. This allows them to be ready to eat in a
short period of time. The larger the piece of dried food the longer it
takes to re-hydrate. With the addition of canned or frozen vegetables
you get larger pieces in your soup which make it more appealing. It not
only looks like more of a meal it is more of a meal.
1. Stock / Bullion
Stock or bullion is an essential pantry item. It comes in several
forms: granulated, cubes, canned liquid, powder and paste. If you are
watching your salt intake, there are lower sodium varieties, too. I
prefer the granulated variety. It mixes easily with water and takes up
very little shelf space. It is also readily available at your local
grocery store. Beef, chicken, vegetable and fish bullion should cover
all your soup mix needs. If you prefer vegetarian cooking, vegetable
stock can be substituted for any of the others when called for in a
A carton of cream can be kept in the refrigerator for use in soup
mixes. However, there are several good substitutes which can be kept in
the pantry. One is powdered cream but is sometimes hard to find.
Powdered milk makes a good substitute. Just mix it at double the
powdered milk in the same amount of water as is called for on the box.
It makes a thicker milk which works well with soup mixes. I also use
canned evaporated milk as a cream substitute straight from the can.
Canned vegetables when added to a soup mix will make a much hardier and
chunky soup. Cans of cut green beans, corn, and mixed vegetables are
always useful. Drain the liquid from the vegetables before adding to
You can usually find a variety of canned mushrooms in the grocery store
these days. Portabella, shiitake, and button mushrooms are commonly
available. If they carry dried mushrooms at your local store, there are
usually more exotic varieties available. Dried mushrooms will need to
be reconstituted before use so they are a little more work than canned
varieties. Whichever you choose, mushrooms can add a distinctive flavor
to many different soups.
5. Canned or Pouch Meats
There are quite a few canned meats and seafood readily available for
additions to your soups. Foil pouches are the latest version of meats
kept in the pantry. Ham, chicken and a variety of seafood like tuna,
clams, shrimp and crab all make hearty additions. A can or two is all
that is needed for an 8 cup mix. Diced clams added to any potato soup
mix makes it New England style clam chowder.
1. Frozen Vegetables
I find frozen vegetables to be an excellent addition to many soup
mixes. Corn, green beans and mixed vegetables are all staples.
Cauliflower and broccoli are also good to have on hand for more variety
in vegetable soups. Frozen asparagus is much better than the canned
variety. I usually add the frozen vegetables at the beginning so that
by the time the soup boils the vegetables are thawed.
2. Frozen Potatoes
Frozen hash browns, the cubed ones, are great additions to potato or
clam chowder soup mixes. Take out a cup or two and reseal the bag for
later use. They give a great tasting soup mix that extra hearty texture.