*Chef’s Kiss*

Picture this: You’re curled up on the couch, snuggled under a cozy blanket, your favourite movie is on, and you have a bowl of rich, steaming soup in your hands. Sounds like heaven? Definitely!

IGNITE’s free soups from their Soupbar helped make snowy, cold and dark evenings bearable last winter, my first in the country. Right from the spicy black bean soup to the carrot and ginger one, each bowl offered comfort and reminded me of home and my mom. One random day, I decided to add leftover mushrooms to my soup and felt like a true chef — a pivotal moment that kicked off my creative journey with IGNITE’s soups. Over time, I began adding ingredients, spices and veggies that reminded me of home and before long, this became a sacred ritual for me.

An individual quickly spooning soup while grinning.

On some days, I still crave a bowl of IGNITE’s soup warmed straight from the freezer. On others, when I’m feeling a little more homesick and have time and groceries on hand, I change things up and modify them into versions inspired by home. Read on to see how you can add your own culture and personality to IGNITE soups and relish a taste of home this winter.

Get creative with veggies

Before you begin, make a list of all your favourite vegetables that may go well with the soup you have. Dive into traditional recipes or even just use what’s on hand. For instance, IGNITE’s lentil soup reminds me of the Indian dal my mother always made, as the two share the same base ingredient. To this, I add browned and sautéed onions, clarified butter and top it all off with chopped cilantro. Trust me, the result is not just amazingly delicious, but so comforting and familiar, I can never stop with one bowl!

A pot of lentil soup simmering.

Sometimes, I throw in pan-seared veggies into just about anything, like golden potatoes in IGNITE’s arugula soup or corn kernels in the spicy black bean one. While some of these choices may be unconventional, in the end, it’s all about comfort and what that means to you.

Runny or goopy soup?

Thick bowl of tomato soup.

One of the most subjective things about soup is its consistency. I, for example, love my soup to be runny and thin, while my housemate swears by a goopier, thick version. Once you thaw the frozen soup, the first step is taking a call on consistency — if you’re happy with it as is, proceed to the next step; if you aren’t, either thicken up the soup (let it simmer for longer, add corn starch or heavy cream) or make it thinner (add water, bone broth or skim milk).

Turn up the heat!

Post Malone drinking milk with hot sauce in front of him.

Whether it’s the mouth-watering heat of a well-seasoned curry or the fiery hit of hot peppers, the intensity of spice transforms a simple dish into a culinary masterpiece for me! Coming from the land of spices, my palate is never happy without a bit of pain. If you’re the same, add in whatever you love most — a dash of Tabasco hot sauce, cayenne pepper, chilli power or dried chilli flakes, paprika, the whole nine yards! Enjoy your soup with that electrifying kick of heat.

Throw in some grains in your soup

Pasta soup being ladled into a bowl.

I often use the frozen tomato soup (a student favourite for good reason) to make a budget-friendly pasta soup. I add orzo pasta or other small pasta shapes along with sautéed onion, celery sticks and boiled chickpeas, drizzling some olive oil to top it off. If you try this, just remember to boil your pasta separately even if it’s tempting to throw it right into the simmering soup. Experts say you’ll get the best results from cooking grains or pasta separately and then adding it to your soup.

Pack in your favourite protein

Tortilla and chicken soup.

IGNITE’s beef barley soup is my absolute favourite, but I can’t lie — I’ve often snagged veggie soups and added in my favourite protein to create something totally new. My go-to is adding shredded chicken to IGNITE’s mushroom soup – delicious. This helps me get the amazing flavours of my favourite veggie soup while also including the specific meat I prefer.

Ultimately, whether you change it up or consume it as is, IGNITE’s soup does what any good soup should — comfort you like nothing else. Soup on a cold winter day is not just a form of nourishment but also a celebration of warmth and comfort during what can be a difficult part of the year. With these tips, we bid you adieu and hope you enjoy the winter with a steaming bowl of soup, home-style!

Feature photo by Julia Kicova via Unsplash.

Wondering what else you can do to feel more chef-like? Check out these four easy side-dishes that pair perfectly with soup!

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