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I guess I could just open a can of Campbell's

Why make soup at all?

By Caroline JanePublished 25 days ago Updated 24 days ago 4 min read
My Tomato Soup served with a side of Cheese on Toast.

There is nothing wrong with opening a can of soup for lunch and tucking in. Out there on the shelves of your friendly local supermarket is an incredible range of soups to be savoured.* Why even go to the effort of making one from scratch? Buy a tin, pop it in a bowl or saucepan, heat, eat, and get on with life. We only live once, after all, and there is much to do!

"Souping"** through such a lens can seem an unnecessary use of time especially when one decides to make the ubiquitously available Tomato Soup, which, on the shelves of my shop alone, there is a choice of around twenty different types.* Surely, common sense dictates that as I pass by the shelves doing my rounds at work, I should pick up a can of my choosing and get on with life.

Yet, I don't. Instead, I spend double the money that one ready-made can costs and buy the ingredients to make my own: garlic to puree, chopped tomatoes, a can of coconut milk, a large onion, and some butter. The shopping time alone takes me longer than it would to open one can of ready-made soup, heat it, and eat it.

I guess I could always argue that the way I make it tastes better than any canned variety. But that would be a lie. My soup tastes pretty much exactly the same as the leading Cream of Tomato brand in the UK. So, logic surely dictates that to save time and money, and with no discernible compromise in flavour, I should keep my pennies in my piggy bank, go and get a can of their Cream of Tomato off the shelf, and get on with life.

Yet, still aware of this, I persist, and I "soup".

As I said at the beginning, there is nothing wrong with buying a can of soup off the shelf and eating it. It makes sense on many levels, even levels that transcend the functional savings and the physical experience of taste. Legend has it that Andy Warhol ate a can of Campbell's every day for his lunch for twenty years, and that consistent act inspired him to paint it, thus propelling forward the Pop Culture Zeitgeist.*** So there you go, tinned soup can be inspirational!

Image from myartbroker.com. Please note I am not affiliated in any way with this site—addition purely for illustration. A link to their website is provided below.

It is difficult to argue why I make my own when faced with all that information. Save money. Tick. Save time. Tick. No compromise of flavour. Tick. Possibly become inspired and paint the catalyst of a whole artistic movement... Well, maybe not... but if you have the makings of an Andy Warhol, there is precedent!

Jokes aside. The reason I make my own tomato soup is because I like to create. It's as simple as that. I enjoy seeing the ingredients I have chosen mingling together in the pan to become, under my guiding hand, more than the sum of their parts. I love how the aroma changes as it cooks. I savour the kaleidoscope of smells from the sweet, heady onions and garlic sizzling in the butter, delight in the lightly piquant fragrance that comes from the addition of the tomatoes, and find comfort in the silky, sumptuous swirls of coconut milk that I melt in at the end.

It really is as simple as that. When I make my own soup, I feel connected to it, comforted by the act of making it, and nurtured by the experience.

You cannot get that by opening a can of ready-made soup.


1 medium brown onion diced

Butter to fry the onion in 9vegetable oil can be substituted).

A teaspoon of garlic, pureed

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 can of coconut milk

Seasoning to taste.

Method: In a saucepan, fry the chopped onions in butter on a low heat. Once they are translucent, add the garlic, then the tomatoes, and finally, the coconut milk. The onions take the lion's share of the cooking time. The rest goes in quickly, just enough to heat each element through. Once done, blitz in a blender and serve.

Note: I add minimal seasoning and often no salt at all. I do this to protect the sweetness. I usually serve the soup with cheese on toast. Using a mature cheddar, I get a good salty kick that really compliments the soup when dunked in.

I hope you enjoy it!

CJ xx


* I am a grocer by trade. After writing this, I quickly looked at my store Sales App and can confirm that I sell 28 types of ready-made tomato soup in my shop. Yesterday, in 6 hours of trade, I sold 90 units. It is currently the summer. We do like our Tomato soup in the UK.

** What can I say? I like this word as a verb. It is as amusing to me as it is endearing. We all have to get our kicks now, don't we? I can't just go about sniffing homemade soup all day!

***Please note the use of the word "legend" at the beginning of this sentence. If you want to read more about what truly inspired Warhol's 32 paintings of soup there is a good overview at MyArtBroker.com. In the context of this story, I find the conclusion in their article about the real motivation for Warhol's soup paintings to hold a delicious irony.

Warhol deliberately rejected the individualistic ideals of the Abstract Expressionist movement that predated him, seeking instead an art form that was no longer defined by the craftsmanship of the artist or an ideology of uniqueness but spoke to the masses through its subject and processes. These works replicate the direct visual language of advertising and employ the artist's strategy of reproducing the same image in series in order to empty a subject of its meaning through repetition.


About the Creator

Caroline Jane

Warm-blooded vertebrate, domesticated with a preference for the wild. Howls at the moon and forages on the dark side of it. Laughs like a hyena. Fuelled by good times and fairy dust. Writes obsessively with no holes barred.

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Comments (7)

  • J. R. Loweabout 20 hours ago

    I admit, I’m also a sucker for home-made soup. Nothing tastes better than the satisfaction that you made it yourself 😂. And if you manage to grow any (and I mean ANY) of the ingredients in your garden, the ‘flavour’ is even more prominent *cries in poor financial decisions*

  • D. J. Reddall19 days ago

    Rumor has it that Descartes' original maxim was, "I soup, therefore I am." This is a canny, appealing meditation on the extraordinary aspects of ordinariness. Savory!

  • JBaz24 days ago

    I am a soup devourer. I make it as much as I can in winter and even a few times in summer. I will cook with canned soup, the only thing I do not care for about Canned soup is the salt content. other than that it is handy and easy to prepare.

  • I’m gonna try that recipe I love a good can of soup especially with grilled cheese 🫕 n sourdough

  • Oh oh would be tasty!

  • I'm not a fan of tomato soup or any soup for that matter except mushroom soup and tom yum soup. But I'm a fan of cheese toast and a small glimpse of it on your cover photo got my mouth watering hehehehehehe

  • Christy Munson25 days ago

    Sounds delicious 😋

Caroline JaneWritten by Caroline Jane

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