Soup in a can or a jar is a pantry staple and sometimes that's what guests get when they drop by unexpectedly. But that doesn't mean it has to look like soup-in-a-can. Here are some simple ideas for turning old reliable soup into something more fabulous with a bit of garnish. Remember this rule of thumb, though -- if the garnish isn't in the dish, it shouldn't go on the plate (or bowl). Also, when garnishing, try to contrast colours and textures -- that's why toast points or toasted nuts work so well. The crunch vs. the velvety smooth soup is very nice.
Butternut squash soup
1 jar butternut squash soup
sour cream thinned with milk
pinch of chives
1 can of beets or 2 red peppers (optional)
Heat soup and pour into a pretty bowl. Swirl sour cream on top of soup. Use a toothpick to make a beautiful design by pulling from the centre to the edges of the bowl. Sprinkle chives on top.
Optional: Puree a canned beet or some red peppers with a hand blender and place a dollop of the colourful mixture into the center of the bowl. You can also use pesto for this. Add a few almonds, too, if you like.
Black Bean Soup
1 can black bean soup
slices of cheese
pinch of chives
fancy crackers or melba toast (optional)
Heat soup and pour into pretty bowl. Broil a small piece of baguette. Crumble cheese and chives on top of the soup in an attractive pattern.
Optional: You can use a fancy cracker or Melba toast if you don't have time to toast the bread.
EXTRA TIP: Who has time to make demi-glace? In a pinch, rough puree some black bean soup so that it's still chunky. (HINT: Don't use an organic brand as it tends to be cloudy.) Serve it with your favorite grilled steak and voila! Steak Diane in under a minute!