Condensed soup is soup that is cooked with a minimum of water, so that it forms a thick stock which almost resembles a sauce. To use it, consumers add water or cream to the highly concentrated soup and heat it. Several manufacturers make this type of soup, offering it in cans and vacuum packed cartons, and some consumers also make a variation at home, using dried ingredients to make a concentrated soup mix. The product is extremely useful, especially in disaster kits, since it is easy to reconstitute soup cans into a meal and it tends to be very nutritious.
When commercial condensed soup is manufactured, ingredients are simmered to make a thick stock, which is boiled down so that the amount of water in the stock is greatly reduced. Other ingredients are added, along with thickeners, and the result is a very thick soup that can be thinned with milk or water to turn it into a meal. After the cooking process is complete, the condensed product is packaged for sale. Typically, it is shelf stable in a sealed container for several years.
Some consumers complain that commercially available soup is too salty, and they prefer to make their own at home. Homemade soup can be condensed through long cooking, although it tends not to be as shelf stable as commercial versions. A dried soup mix can also be made by blending dry milk powder, cornstarch, bouillon flakes, and dried herbs and spices. The mix can easily be turned into soup with the addition of water, although it will be more like a broth until more ingredients are added.
Canned condensed soup is available in many markets, and it has a wide range of uses. In addition to being eaten plain, it is also used in recipes, such as tuna noodle casserole in many parts of the United States. Since the soup keeps for an extended period of time, college students and people with low cash flow often stock up on cans of it. Given that each can of soup reconstitutes into multiple meals, it provides decent nutrition at an affordable price.
Since soup is a comfort food for many people, condensed soup is also one way to enjoy soup without having to endure a laborious cooking process every time. People who are sick often enjoy chicken noodle or tomato soups, which are frequently available in condensed form. Home cooks can also, of course, make large batches of favorite soups and freeze them for later.