Canned Tomato Soup, All Dressed Up


[NOTE: Since originally publishing this post, I’ve learned that Campbell’s Tomato Soup is apparently not vegetarian, let alone vegan. See my articles here and here, as well as the reader comments below. If you’re no longer comfortable using Campbell’s, you can substitute any similar canned tomato soup in the recipe below.] 

I’m usually all about whole foods and cooking everything from scratch, but Campbell’s Tomato Soup is one of my favorite splurges. There’s just something about the old-timey can and the sweet, creamy taste of the soup that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 


But then again, I’m not much of a traditionalist when it comes to cooking, so it’s hard for me to resist trying to make a good thing even better…..Hence, my famous Campbell’s Tomato Tortilla Soup. I first came up with the original (non-vegan) version of this recipe as a teenager after seeing the film Tortilla Soup. At that point in my life, I hardly knew how to open a can let alone follow a recipe, but using Campbell’s as a foundation, I was able to throw together a soup that captured many of the vibrant flavors and textures I’d seen in the movie. Of course my creation was far from authentic, but it turned out to be so easy and delicious that it became and remains one of my favorite things to eat.

The original version got its creaminess from milk or heavy cream. My first attempt at veganizing the recipe by swapping the dairy for almond milk came out inexplicably funky tasting. Luckily, I later discovered that cashew cream, thanks to its mild sweetness, is a much better substitute for the milk, giving the soup just the right amount of richness and unctuousness.


(Serves 2)

1 can of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup

1/4 cup raw cashews, simmered in water for 30 minutes until soft (or soaked overnight)

1 tablespoon of chili powder (Note that I’m referring to the common American spice blend, not straight Cayenne Powder which can be quite spicy!)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/2 avocado, chopped into small cubes or thin slices

1/2 cup of hearty corn tortilla chips (Try to find a variety that are made from real corn tortillas. My favorite are El Ranchero, which are unfortunately hard to find outside of Chicago where I grew up)

a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce (I like to use Tabasco Chipotle Sauce because it adds some smokiness)

salt to taste


  1. Blend softened cashews with 1/4 cup of water and a pinch of salt, adding more water if necessary, until the consistency of heavy cream. Image
  2. Combine tomato soup and cashew cream in a pot and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Stir in chili powder, nutritional yeast, and a generous splash of hot sauce. Taste and add salt and additional seasoning as desired.
  4. Serve in shallow bowls, garnishing with avocado, tortilla chips (crushed in your hands), a shake of chili powder, and an extra splash of hot sauce if desired.

4 thoughts on “Canned Tomato Soup, All Dressed Up

  1. I hate to tell you this, but Cambell’s Tomato Soup itself isn’t vegetarian, let alone vegan (Campbell’s actually doesn’t make any vegan products). Their only “vegetarian” product is their Vegetarian Vegetable Soup, which contains egg noodles. I just found this out recently, because I love Spicy V8, but all V8 (aside from the splash flavors) use beef extract, and hide it under “flavoring”.

    If it’s not a nutritional component, the FDA allows any product deemed fit for human consumption to be labeled under the “flavoring” or “natural flavoring” moniker. When I asked about rumors that V8 contained beef extract, Campbell’s told me they wouldn’t give me that information, because it’s “proprietary”, but they did confirm that none of their products are vegan, and only the vegetarian vegetable soup doesn’t contain meat extracts.

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