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Tomato Soup Chili is surprisingly good if you use quality ingredients.

Sure, I cook with canned soup once in a while. Sometimes it's quite nice to fix something that doesn’t take any more time to make it than to eat it!

However, there are a couple of tips that tend to make the recipes a little bit more distinctive.

Using a bit of dry French vermouth is a great flavor booster. Instead of using 1/4 cup white wine (which no one ever has on hand and who wants to open a bottle for such a small amount!), splash in the vermouth. This is a great tip from both Julia Child and Jacque Pepin, since the vermouth keeps almost forever. You do need to spring for the good stuff. Cheap vermouth tastes like just that, cheap vermouth.

Quick Chicken

  • 4 to 6 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 bag stuffing, use as much as you like

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine soups and vermouth. In a shallow casserole dish, spread a layer of soup mixture, lay chicken on top, cover with rest of soup and sprinkle on a layer of the stuffing. Cover and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size of chicken. Take off cover last 10 minutes to let stuffing brown.

Pork Chops

The Worcestershire sauce gives a bit of depth to this easy “supper” dish. Another tip to give a certain richness and flavor to a sauce: use just a drop of aromatic cocktail bitters. I use Peychaud’s brand.

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 soup can water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 pork chops
  • Flour, salt and pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine soup, water and Worcestershire sauce. Salt and pepper chops, dredge in flour, brown in hot oil and set aside. Add several teaspoons of flour to the drippings and lightly brown. Add soup mixture, and simmer for a few minutes. Return chops to skillet, place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Tomato Soup Chili

A really fast 1-1-1 chili is surprisingly good if you use quality ingredients. Chili powders vary wildly and make a huge difference. I use Gephardt’s, a California favorite and easy to purchase online.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Brown beef and onion (lightly salt) until beef is no longer pink. Stir in salt, chili powder, cumin and tomato soup. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Add beans; heat and serve.

Corn Chowder

And when I really don’t feel like doing anything, I make this:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cans of drained corn
  • 2 cans of cream of potato soup

In a medium pot, sauté two cloves of garlic in a bit of olive oil for about one minute. Add two cans of drained corn and two cans of cream of potato soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.