Garlic bread cobb loaf, Korean beans, prawn tray bake, chicken curry and more


Give a humble, cost-effective can a bit of juju with these ideas from Katrina Meynink.

Katrina Meynink

There are myriad ways to give a humble can of soup a bit of juju. There have been many times (winters) in my (student) life when gussying up a can of tomato soup became a blood sport, and I never really let go of it.

It’s quick and cost-effective, and I usually have a can or two lurking in the pantry. Note: I always reach for the 820g cans of soup for these recipes, each designed to serve four.

Canned tomato soup with creamy, buttery, garlicky goodness.
Canned tomato soup with creamy, buttery, garlicky goodness.Katrina Meynink

Garlicky bread bowl of goodness

My piece de resistance is this garlic bread bowl of soup. Combine 4 tablespoons of chopped herbs with 100g soft butter and 2 crushed garlic cloves in a bowl. Cut the top off a cob loaf, pulling out the fluffy insides (reserving for breadcrumbs or another use). Smear the herby garlic butter inside the base of the cob loaf then place on a tray and pop in a 180C fan-forced oven (200C conventional).

While the bread is baking, add a large can of tomato soup, 1 tablespoon Italian herb mix and ½ cup cream to a saucepan. Cook over low heat until warmed through.

Pull the bread from the oven and gently pour the soup into the bread bowl. Season with salt, pepper, a drizzle of cream and a splash of olive oil. Give this a minute before scooping the soup into bowls − the bread will soften so you get chunks of buttery garlic bread in the soup. Tear apart the remaining bread to serve alongside. It might not be pretty, but it tastes like heaven.

Spicy Korean bean soup

For an instant heart-warmer, add a large can of tomato soup, 1 tablespoon of gochujang chilli paste (check for heat level) and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Add a strained can of butter beans and cook until the beans have warmed through. If you have herbs lurking in the crisper, give them a chop then stir them through. Taste and check for heat, adding more gochujang if needed. Give everything a squeeze of lime then slurp voraciously – it’s the only way.

Saucy tomato prawns

For something equally robust, pour a large can of tomato soup into a baking dish with 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder and sweet smoked paprika. Add about ¼ cup of thickened cream, a pinch of sugar and a splash of red wine vinegar, and stir to combine. Shove the dish into a preheated oven at 180C fan-forced (200C conventional) and cook for 10 minutes. Throw in about 200g sustainably sourced, peeled raw king prawns and return to the oven for another 4 minutes or so. Top with chopped chilli and coriander for a touch of fancy. Serve with hunks of baguette for swiping through the saucy goodness.

Cheat’s chicken curry

Add a large can of tomato soup, 2 tablespoons of red curry paste and the shredded meat of ½ a rotisserie chicken to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until heated through. Season with a little fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Spoon the saucy mixture over steamed rice and top with plenty of crispy fried shallots, and chopped chilli for a bigger hit of heat, and finish with a squeeze of lime juice for (almost) instant slurpy dinner deliciousness.

Brothy orecchiette with chickpeas

Another great mealtime hack is to fry a diced onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of chilli flakes. Add a 400g drained can of chickpeas and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook until the chickpeas look like they are coated in the paste. Add a large can of tomato soup and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add about 185g short pasta (I like orecchiette) along with 3-4 cups chicken stock. Increase the heat to high and cook until pasta is al dente (about 10 minutes). Pour into bowls, season generously and serve with parmesan and chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Note: All recipes serve 4

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