Soup is an excellent meal for any time of the year. It’s hearty, filling, and full of flavor.
It turns out many people are wondering if they can eat canned soup cold, so I decided to answer that question in a blog post. If you’re one of them, keep on reading.
So, what’s the long story short? Is it okay to eat canned soup cold?
Generally speaking, it’s safe to eat cold soup from the can. Canned soup has already been cooked, so there’s nothing that specifically requires you to reheat or cook it.
Suppose you’re in a rush or feeling lazy, and you don’t even want to bother transferring it to a bowl. To eat cold soup straight from the can, use a spoon and don’t try to drink it directly from the can—you can end up cutting your lips.
Make sure to check the type of canned soup in your cabinet or pantry. If it’s condensed, you will need to pour it in a bowl and mix it with water (in this case, you’ll probably want to reheat it so that it won’t taste too watered-down).
Heat brings out the aroma and flavor in food, so don’t expect your cold soup to be as soothing or savory as when you’ve taken the time to reheat it. To counter this, you could try adding something with a kick, like freshly-cracked pepper, and some sourness, like a dash of vinegar or squeeze of lemon juice, to brighten it up.
As with any other food, always ensure that the can is intact, shows no signs of swelling, and is entirely free from rust before consuming any of its contents. Such cans can contain Clostridium botulinum, a harmful type of bacteria known to cause botulism.
When it comes to the best-by date, the picture is different. Canned foods don’t necessarily go bad. However, their texture, aroma, flavor, and nutritional values will degrade with time.
“Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling),” Marianne Gravely, Technical Information Specialist, writes on the USDA’s website.
If your canned soup is past its expiry date, don’t rush to throw it in the bin. Instead, open it, give it a whiff for any off smells, then taste it—and decide for yourself if it’s still appetizing enough to eat.
How to Reheat Canned Soup in the Microwave
By far, the quickest and easiest way to reheat canned soup is in your microwave. Here’s my three-step technique for doing so.
Pour the soup into a microwavable bowl and cover it with plastic wrap to prevent splatter, leaving a small opening on the side as a vent.
Reheat the soup for 60 seconds. Take it out of the microwave, give it a stir, and taste it carefully for hotness.
If the liquid is not warm enough for your taste, or the chunks of meat and veggies are still cold, continue heating the soup through at intervals of 30 seconds.
Reheating Soup on the Stove
To reheat canned soup, transfer it into a pot and place it over medium heat on your stove.
For even heating, keep stirring your soup every 30-40 seconds. The exact timing will depend on your stove, pot, and the amount of liquid. Still, as a general rule of thumb, reheating soup will take you anywhere from 3-4 to 5-6 minutes.
Clearly, heating soup on the stove takes longer than using the microwave. However, there are advantages to doing so as well.
First, it gives you finer control over the soup’s temperature. It’s not uncommon for microwave-reheated soup to come out colder or hotter than you like it.
Second, it reheats the liquid and meat or vegetable chunks in it more evenly. This happens for several reasons, the most impactful of which is that you’re stirring the soup frequently in the process.
Last but not least, it allows you to improve the aroma and flavor of the soup by adding spices, condiments, or ingredients to it. But more on that below.
How to Make Canned Soup Taste Better
We already established that the best way to improve cold canned soup is by spicing it up with freshly-cracked black pepper or giving it a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten up its flavor profile.
By reheating it, you can do even more. So here are a few of my favorite ideas for making canned soup taste better.
1. Cook Up a Base
You can make canned soup taste as good as something that came out of a fancy kitchen without too much of a fuss. One of those ways is to cook up a “base” for it.
The base is a chef’s term for the foundational set of aromas and flavors that a dish is built on. The thing about most canned soups is that they don’t really have that deep of a taste.
The good news is that if you’re willing to put in 10 extra minutes, you can easily change this. Here’s how.
Dice 1 onion and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic. Sweat the onion in olive oil or butter in your pot, over medium heat, for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic mince and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, before pouring the canned soup into your pot.
Simmer for 7-8 minutes before serving. Combine with any of the other ideas below for a more savory soup.
2. Simmer With Salt, Pepper, and Vinegar
You may have heard that adding salt to soup after it has been cooked isn’t a great idea. That’s generally true, but in this case, you’re fixing up canned soup.
As you’re reheating the soup, season it with a pinch of salt, a generous cracking of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of distilled white or apple cider vinegar.
Simmer over medium-high heat, frequently stirring, for 5 minutes before serving.
3. Melt Blue Cheese In It
You’ve seen TV chefs and YouTube cooks do this. In a hot pot of soup, they’ll slowly pour in chunks of blue cheese, stirring, until it takes on a creamy texture and tangy taste.
Now here’s how to do it at home.
Right when you’re done reheating your soup, turn off the heat and add blue cheese crumbles to it. Stir until the crumbles have melted and blended in with the rest of the ingredients.
Notice that you don’t need to have your stove on for this step. You’re simply melting the cheese in the residual heat of the liquid.
4. Garnish With Fresh Herbs
To add a pop of texture and color to your soup, garnish it with fresh herbs. Herbs like dill, cilantro, basil, and thyme will add variety and richness to your soup.
Finely chop fresh herbs of your choice, place them in the bottom of the bowl, and ladle the hot soup over them. For a restaurant-style presentation, scatter some of them on top before serving.
Garnishing cold soup with fresh herbs works well, too (as long as you’ll be plating the soup and not eating it from the can, that is).
Yes, you can eat cold soup straight from the can, especially if you’re feeling lazy or need a quick snack in a hurry.
For all other occasions, I recommend taking a few minutes to reheat it in your microwave or on the stove before eating.
Heat will bring out the smell and taste of your soup. Most of the time, the texture of the reheated soup is also more pleasant.