9 Easy Ways To Upgrade Potato Dishes With A Can Of Soup

The humble potato is perhaps one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. They can be the star of the show atop a shepherd's pie or provide background support to a great meal in the form of roast potatoes or a simple side of fries. They are comfortable at breakfast, lunch, or dinner; they grace 3-star Michelin establishments and roadside picnic tables with equal flair with great appreciation.

Because of their versatility, potatoes are perfectly suited to experimentation. And, while each variety of potato has its distinct flavor and texture, there is plenty of room to play. One of the easiest ways to boost the flavor of any dish is by adding a can of soup. From basic stocks to creamy condensed versions, the flavors and spices of canned soup are flavorful additions to familiar potato dishes — making a memorable meal in minutes. So, here are 11 ways to upgrade your favorite potato dishes with canned soup.

1. Use cheddar cheese soup to upgrade potato casserole

If you thought mac and cheese couldn't be topped when it comes to the ultimate comfort food, think again. Next time the weather outside is frightful, and all you want is to sink your fork into something gooey and delicious, try a canned potato casserole made with cheddar cheese soup. 

When you want a hot meal, fast, slice potatoes thinly before mixing them with canned cheddar cheese soup and spreading them in a greased casserole dish. If you have more time, chop up a yellow onion and some garlic and sauté them in an oven-safe dish. Add some peeled and cubed russet potatoes and cook until they have a little color. Add your can of creamy cheese soup and top with some cheese — cheddar is good, or you can give it a kick with jalapeño cheddar.

Bake at 350 F until the potatoes are nearly fork-tender. Top with crispy onions and bake another few minutes until the cheese on top is melted and browned. Let the casserole sit for 10 minutes before serving.

2. Use cream of corn soup to upgrade a hotdish

Originating in the Upper Midwest of the United States, most prominently in Minnesota and North Dakota, hotdish is cooked and served in a single dish and consists of a casserole underneath a comforting layer of tater tots. Traditionally, hotdish uses canned or frozen vegetables bound together with a creamed soup and baked until the filling is bubbling and the tots are crispy. 

Open a can of cream of corn soup and mix in some peas, corn, green beans, diced potatoes, and chopped rotisserie chicken for a take on chicken pot pie. Other sour variations work as well including a creamy can of cheese soup combined with bratwurst, potatoes, and frozen green beans. Also, try cream of mushroom soup with browned ground beef and a bag of frozen mixed veggies to deliver a deeply satisfying burger hotdish. Sprinkle some crunchy onions on top when serving.

The hotdish is a staple feature of potlucks, holidays, and weeknight meals, largely because its assembly couldn't be simpler. Hotdish was made with pretty much any canned soup you have in mind, and the sky's the limit when it comes to variations.

3. Use cream of mushroom soup to upgrade potato risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that intimidate home cooks and is usually made with rice, but you can substitute in potatoes just as easily. And, they make a great addition especially if you're making wild mushroom and potato risotto with cream of mushroom canned soup — a hearty winter dish with a twist.

Instead of traditional arborio rice, diced Yukon gold potatoes are cooked in a flavorful liquid and finished with butter and shaved parmesan. The process is similar to cooking regular risotto and starts with putting a little color on the potatoes before deglazing the pan with wine or dry vermouth. Once the alcohol has evaporated, begin to ladle cream of mushroom canned soup thinned with either vegetable or chicken stock — ½ cup at a time and stir until the liquid is absorbed. The potatoes release their starch and become creamy, even as the cubes cook.

The whole process takes around 20 minutes, but check to see if the potatoes are soft and still holding their shape before removing from the heat. Garnish with fresh parsley and cracked black pepper. You can also change up the flavor by using cream of corn soup and adding roasted wild mushrooms or fresh corn as a garnish.

4. Use cream of celery soup to upgrade scalloped potatoes

Scalloped potatoes can be quite an elegant dish. Thinly sliced potatoes are layered, topped with cream, and then baked in the oven until tender. The dish is simple but rich and usually served with lean proteins and fresh vegetables.

Grab a can of cream of celery soup if you want something more flavorful and robust that stands out on the plate. Slice potatoes thinly (even slices are easier with a mandolin) and shingle them into a greased baking dish until they are about half an inch from the top. Mix your cream of celery soup with ½ a can of milk in a separate bowl, then pour this mixture over the potatoes. Bake at 350 F until the potatoes are tender — the time will vary depending on your potatoes' thickness and the baking dish's size, but start checking at about 30 minutes.

Constructing your dish in a slow cooker can make this even easier. Slice enough russet potatoes to fill your slow cooker to about half or three-quarters full. Add one can of cream of mushroom soup and one can of cream of celery soup. To that, add 1 can of milk. If you want to make it more of a meal, add small cubes of ham. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until the potatoes are pierced easily with a fork.

5. Use 3 cans to upgrade loaded potato soup

There is an art to a delicious potato soup. It's more than just adding stock, potatoes, and onion to a pot and hoping for the best. It's bigger than throwing in a handful of chopped herbs and maybe some celery. When you want something soul-satisfying, loaded potato soup is really the only way to go, and these three canned soups will make that magic happen.

Start by cooking freshly diced potatoes until fork tender. If you're in a hurry, use frozen diced hash browns or canned potatoes. While they're cooking add cream of bacon, cream of onion, and cream of celery to a large pot along with 3 cans of milk, then add the drained potatoes. You could also use cream of cheddar soup or cream of mushroom if you want to get away from the loaded baked potato flavor. 

Season carefully. Cream soups can be very salty, so lean on other dried spices such as thyme or tarragon, plus lots of black pepper. Serve this soup with many accompaniments: Crumbled cooked bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions bring it home.

6. Use cream of chicken soup to upgrade mashed potatoes

Whoever first added butter and cream to potatoes and crushed them to creaminess deserves a medal, and it's hard to argue that the basics of simple mashed potatoes are good enough as-is. But, whether you like your mash thick or fluffy, there's always room for flavor, and adding a cream of chicken is a one-stop shop that eliminates the need for milk, cream, or butter and adds a unique flavor boost. 

There are two ways to infuse your potatoes with tons of flavor. The first way is to boil the actual potatoes for the mash in a thinned verson of cream of your cream of chicken soup. Use water or stock to thin the soup, and then discard the mixture like you would water after the potatoes are perfectly boiled.

For the second technique, add a tablespoon of condensed cream of chicken soup directly into the potatoes as you mash them. You may need to add a bit of hot stock or warmed milk in addition to the soup, but this depends on the consistency you prefer.

Mashing the potatoes breaks up the starch granules and turns the potatoes into a gluey mess so be careful not to over-mash them. When combined with the thickening agents in a cream soup, this could lead to disaster. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit, and pass lots of cracked black pepper. Substitute cream of corn or cream of celery for vegetarian options.

7. Use cream of spinach soup to upgrade potato gratin

Potato gratin is the luxuriously simple marriage of potatoes, cheese, and cream. This dish is incredibly satisfying to make and serve, often becoming the star of the meal. But, you can make it even better using cream of spinach soup and fresh spinach.

Use russet potatoes for the best texture. For a 2-quart baking dish, thinly slice 2 ½ pounds of potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Dilute cream of spinach soup with enough whole milk to make 2 ¼ cups total, and sprinkle in some nutmeg (between ¼ and ½ teaspoon). Grate one cup of parmesan. Grease your baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line the bottom of the baking dish with potatoes so the edges overlap. Cover with fresh spinach leaves in a thin layer, then add ¼ of the liquid and ¼ of the cheese. Repeat the layers and pour the soup over, then bake uncovered for an hour. The dish is done when potatoes are pierced easily with a fork. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving with a dollop of tart sour cream as a finishing touch.

8. Use cream of garlic soup to upgrade Hasselback potatoes

Hasselback potatoes provide the perfect canvas for any flavor you want to layer on top of them. The wafer-thin slices of potato held together by a narrow strip of skin at the bottom of the potato cradle everything from cheese to fried sage to roasted garlic. But, to add a major flavor upgrade, try adding cream of garlic soup between the slices. 

As with many potato dishes, the technique is essential. To slice down far enough to give potatoes the characteristic crispy-edged, scalloped appearance but not break the skin that holds them together, place your scrubbed Yukon gold potato between two chopsticks and use that as a guide for your knife.

Once the potatoes are cut, place them in an oven-safe dish and add some fat to start. Season with salt and pepper and bake at 425 F for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently separate the slices of potato. Use a pastry brush to add creamy garlic soup between slices, just enough to coat the potato but not so much that it's sitting in soup. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender with crispy golden skin.

9. Use curry soup to upgrade aloo gobi (potato curry)

Potato curry goes by many different names: aloo gobi, dum aloo, alor dum. Regardless of what you call it, this flavorful curry can be made simply by using a base of curry soup and adding tasty twists. Remember that these culinary experiments are meant to hint at the complexity of the global cuisines that created curry, not replicate them.

Curry soups can be primarily found in a red or green base, and whichever one you choose will influence the other spices you select. Potatoes can be cooked beforehand and combined with a curry soup that has not been thinned — a can of coconut milk brings more Thai-influenced flavors to the table here. If you'd like to try another variation of potato curry, add a can of cream of spinach soup to red curry for sag aloo or green curry for aloo palak.

For a distinctly American version of Kashmiri curry, consider baking or frying potatoes (or using extra-crispy tater tots of french fries) to add to a curry soup base bolstered with fresh ginger and diced canned tomatoes. Add cooked red lentils to make a complete vegetarian meal, and serve with fresh cilantro and naan.