Not Sad Desk Lunch

5 Soups That Pack Well (+ 5 Tips for Choosing Your Own)

February 25, 2014

As a defiant response to Sad Desk Lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too.

Today: Pick the right soup to pack. (While you're at it, pack a peck of pickled peppers.)

Tomato Soup on Food52

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As I see it, we're still a good 40 lunches away from t-shirts and flip flops and RAMPS!!!. Forty lunches of food that should warm you up and, in its pleasurable flavor, give you something to think about other than gray, chilly skies or metastasizing to-do lists.

Good soup will do this for you. Pack some up in your thermos, or just use a mason jar and your friendly office microwave. Let lunch hold you close until spring lets you run free, your hair laced with pea shoot garlands.

Here are some soup-packing tips, from our office to yours:

  • Greens in soup can get a little bit sad when reheated, so go for something with sturdier vegetables.
  • Stay away from noodle soups. Nobody wants reheated noodle mush.
  • Pick something that's packed with beans or grains or other rib-sticking foods. Or supplement with good, crusty bread.
  • Avoid yogurt-based soups; they need to be reheated gently, which is a challenge in your local break room's 1987 microwave.
  • Consider how your colleagues will feel if you reheat fish stew and then the entire office smells of fish stew. Just consider it.

Get started with these lunchbox-friendly recipes:

1. Start with tomato soup, whose soul-comforting abilities have already been well documented. Make this spicy Genius recipe, or improvise your own

Tomato Soup on Food52


2. Merrill's White Bean Soup covers all your necessary bases: quick to make, filling but healthful, and just as good -- if not better -- on day two.

White Bean Soup on Food52


3. The little black dress of soups is actually orange. This Roasted Carrot Soup never fails. Learn it. Love it. 

Roasted Carrot Soup on Food52


4. Butternut Squash Soup with Miso tastes creamy, but won't leave you with a 3 PM dairy hangover. And the ginger-cayenne-miso combination will keep boredom at bay. (If you're really struggling with ennui you could also keep one of those joke-of-the-day calendars at your desk.) 

Butternut Squash Soup with Miso on Food52


5. Satisfaction, thy name is cheese. Specifically, Parmesan cheese. In this Broccoli, Lemon, and Parmesan Soup. Until sweater weather subsides, this will be your trusty companion. 

Broccoli, Lemon, and Parmesan Soup on Food52

Tell us: What are your favorite soups to pack into your lunch box?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jolee Kempf
    Jolee Kempf
  • Rachel
  • Eliz.
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



Jolee K. February 24, 2018
My son takes soup for lunch most days. The best tip I have is to pack soup in a two cup mason jar and then slide the heated soup into a can koozie. The koozie can be slipped off for microwaving (unlike thermos containers) and protects the jar from being bashed around. Mason jars are watertight and inexpensive and you can get plastic one piece lids if you prefer. Thanks for the recipes!
Rachel February 25, 2014
If I'm packing soup as a lunch I tend to skew in favour of beany options: white bean soup, butternut squash with black beans or the curried chickpea soup from the Rebar cookbook. It's for two reasons:
1. The protein and fibre of the beans keep you fuller for longer, so it can do as a whole meal (whereas at home I'd put out a bread basket or salad);
2. Every bite should be a bit different. I like pureed soups, but only in smaller doses, as a first course, or beside a grilled cheese sandwich. I need something to dunk in a puree; I need to add texture.
Marian B. February 26, 2014
Totally with you about textured soups! They're always a little more interesting to eat.
Eliz. February 25, 2014
When making a large pot of soup for the week's lunch, I find a way to avoid army-green greens and soggy pasta is to cook and pack them separately in small containers. I'll do the same for individual dollops of sour cream, portions of grated cheese, unfiltered olive oil. minced herbs, brown rice or any other garnish. Turns your lunch box into a kind of desktop science kit.
Marian B. February 26, 2014
Smart! I'm all about compartmentalizing.