5 Tips to Turn Leftover Soup into a Great Pasta Sauce

published Jan 27, 2015
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(Image credit: al1962)

Having a pot of soup around means that you have a great meal secret weapon. It doesn’t take that much more time to make a big pot than a little pot, leaving you with lots of soup to stash away in the fridge or freezer when you need a quick meal that reheats well.

But sometimes that big pot of soup is, well, big. Big enough that after a couple of meals, you’re starting to get tired of it. Or perhaps you have just a small amount left but it’s not enough to make a full meal. The solution? Turn it into a delicious pasta sauce!

Pasta sauce and soup have much more in common than you think. They’re flavorful, slow-simmered, and chock full of tasty ingredients. Whether you have a leftover creamy tomato, chunky beef barley, or earthy kale and sausage soup, stop thinking of it as soup and start thinking of it as a sauce.

I love doing this a lot, since it transforms the soup into a completely different dish that’s fresh and doesn’t make me feel like I’m eating leftovers again! It’s also a great, economical way to stretch a small amount of soup into another meal.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Here are five tips to turn leftover soup into pasta sauce:

  1. Avoid certain soups. Soups that don’t reheat well also won’t work well as a pasta sauce — these include egg-drop soups, chunky seafood soups where the seafood might overcook and toughen when reheated, and soups that contain dairy like yogurt that will change in texture when reheated. Other than that, any other soup is game to be turned into pasta sauce.
  2. Reduce excess broth. If your soup is broth-based, dump it into the skillet or frying pan and simmer it over medium heat until most of the broth is gone. This helps to concentrate the flavors and keeps the final pasta dish from being watery.
  3. Heat blended soups gently. Pureed soups make great pasta sauces, but reheat them very gently over low heat so that if there is any cream in the soup, it doesn’t break. Also take care not to let it reduce and thicken too much.
  4. Save and use pasta water. The cooking liquid from the pasta is very valuable. Saving and adding some to the pan when you combine the pasta and soup will help loosen and thin out thick soups, as well as help thicken broth-based soups into a sauce that sticks to your pasta.
  5. Taste and season. Your soup is already seasoned and flavorful, but the pasta is not, so make sure you taste everything once the pasta and soup are combined. It’ll probably need more salt, but also consider adding more of the spices and other seasonings that may have gone into the soup!

Soups That Would Make Great Pasta Sauces