3 Ways to Upgrade Instant Soup

Mukilteo, WA
February 2019 | Words and images by Jen Sotolongo (@messkitmaven)

Instant soups are a staple for many backpacking meals, and for good reason. They’re easy to prepare, require no work other than boiling water, and warm cold bodies on chilly evenings. For day hikes, additions like tofu or another protein, broth instead of water, and a handful of veggies liven up these soups and transform them into proper meals. It just takes up to 10 or so minutes of extra prep work at home and you’ll have a heartier soup for the trail.

The following recipes take three instant soup favorites and transform them into more substantial meals that add a boost of nutrients and taste like they were made from scratch.

No Quite Instant Cup o Soup

Not Quite Instant Cup o’ Soup

All right, I admit that this soup requires just a touch more prep work than the other soups in this list, but it won’t take long and it can be prepared the evening before a hike and reheated in the morning.

Serves: 2
Prep: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or water
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated on a Microplane
  • 1/4 tsp ginger grated on a Microplane
  • 1/4 cup carrot chopped into small pieces, about ¼ inch in size
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup orzo
  • Squeeze of lemon or 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley


  1. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a pan with either the oil or water and cook on medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot and cook another few minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and orzo and bring to a boil. Turn heat down slightly and keep an eye on it. It can boil over easily! Allow the orzo to cook for two minutes under suggested time on the package.
  4. Remove from heat and add the pepper, salt, parsley, and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
  5. Pour into TK Pro Klean Kanteen and enjoy!

Gluten free? Use GF Orzo or sub rice. Next time you make rice, make extra and freeze to have on hand for this soup. Defrost before cooking and add at the very end, just before pouring into the KT.

Ramen Soup with Mushrooms

Instant Ramen Soup with Dried Mushrooms

I love bringing instant ramen soups on backpacking trips. They’re so easy to use as a fast way to warm up on a cool fall night. For day hikes, I like adding a few additional ingredients at home to make them a bit more substantial. I prefer to use the Insulated TK Wide Klean Kanteen because it has a wider mouth which allows me to eat directly out of the bottle if I have long chopsticks.

Serves: 1
Prep: 2 min
Cook Time: 10 min


  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated on a Microplane
  • 1 package of instant ramen soup of choice.*
  • 2 tablespoons grated carrots
  • Small handful of spinach, kale, or Swiss chard
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • A few drops of toasted sesame oil
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Baked tofu, cut into cubes or slices
  • Green onions, sliced


  1. Add the broth, mushrooms and ginger to a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, add the noodles and cook for about five minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour into TK Wide and don’t forget the chopsticks!

*The noodles can swell and absorb the water from the soup if they sit in the thermos for a long period of time. One way to troubleshoot is to cook them separately and add just before eating. Alternatively, bring a second thermos filled with hot broth and add to the Klean Kanteen just before eating to top it off.

Gluten Free? Look for ramen soup packs using rice noodles. Alternatively, you can add your own rice noodles or opt for shirataki noodles.

3 Vegan Hot Chocolate Recipes

Oh-So-Simple Boosted Instant Miso Soup

Even quicker than instant ramen soup, Instant Miso just requires hot water. On its own, it’s great for a hot salty drink, but like ramen, it’s easy to add just a few quick ingredients to give it a little flavor boost.

Serves: 1
Prep: 3 min
Cook Time: 5 min


  • 1.5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated on a Microplane
  • 1 packet of instant miso soup
  • Couple pinches of dried kombu, kelp, or nori
  • 1/4 cup firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon green onions


  1. Add the broth and ginger to a small pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, remove from heat and add the contents of the miso soup packet, along with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour into your TKPro Klean Kanteen and drink straight from the bottle later.
Hot Soups for Out on the Trail



Before you hit the trail with your enhanced soup, grab a bottle to keep it hot for hours. Insulated bottles and food canisters make great culinary companions.