Food & Drink

This is not a soup kitchen — it’s a soup cantina

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Internationally inspired soups by Rock Lobster’s Matt Dean Pettit and Campbell Canada warm up Toronto

This is not a soup kitchen — it’s a soup cantina

The Cantina by Campbell’s, a pop-up restaurant on Queen West, is serving up free bowls of soup to more than 700 people a day. Not just any soup, these exotic, flavourful bowls have been created by Chef Matt Dean Pettit, founder of the growing Rock Lobster Food Co. empire. Pettit specializes in northern soul food—food that speaks to Canadians. And when winter settles in, Pettit knows what Canadians want to eat: hearty, nourishing soup. “I like comfort food. I like food that is simple, straightforward, made with great ingredients and most importantly, food that’s made from the heart,” says Pettit, who hails from northern Ontario.

Pettit’s specialty is taking comfort food and reinventing it, kicking it up a notch. Which makes tasting his take on soup this winter so fun. “Teaming up with Campbell Canada is a natural fit,” he says. Running until Feb. 21, at 501 Queen West, The Cantina by Campbell’s is ladling out complimentary bowls of four different soups representing the city’s multicultural dining scene. They were also inspired by Pettit’s own travels and the realization that every culture enjoys soup — that we all soup. Pettit created the dishes starting with Campbell’s products as a base, so you can try these at home.

Chef Matt Dean Pettit at The Cantina by Campbell’s

The Cantina serves up generous free tasting flights Monday-Friday from 11am-8pm, and weekends from 11am-7pm. And each day, at the lunch hour and dinner hour, Pettit is on hand to give recipe instructions and inspiration. The iconic red-and-white soup company, which has been in Canada for 85 years, knows what soup means to communities and so, as diners dig in at the communal tables, they are invited to place a sticker on a mosaic wall.

The mural at The Cantina by Campbell’s represents cans of soup donated to the food bank

“Giving back to communities is part of what Campbell’s is, so for every sample provided we’re donating a can of Campbell’s soup to the Daily Bread Food Bank,” says Melissa Mendoza, of Campbell Canada. “As the wall fills up, it will represent every can of soup given back to the community.” Campbell’s is on track to donate 15,000 cans of soup to the food bank.

Here, the four soups:


Comfort Canadiana

This creamy, meaty soup is pure backyard BBQ. Pettit rubs a chicken with a chipotle-infused marinade, and then stands the bird up with a can of Canadian ale before placing it in the oven. While roasting, the beer evaporates into the cavity and permeates the bird with memories of malt-soaked hockey games. Once fully cooked, the tender, beery meat is pulled from the bones and stirred into a warm pot of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup. The bisque is then garnished with chives and reserved crispy chicken skins, for a little crackling texture.

More, Por Favor

Pettit’s spicy blackbean Mexi-taco soup is a take on the street food he ate while travelling in Latin America. The base is the winter classic, Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soup, but Pettit packs it with healthy protein in the form of spiced black beans, seasoned with sweet-smoky chipotle and other spices. Crunchy tortilla strips are laid on top of the thick soup mixture, with a dollop of tangy crema to balance it all out.


Khao Soi Kit Kick

Campbell’s Thai Chicken and Rice Soup Kit is Pettit’s current favourite and, like we said, Pettit likes to kick things up a notch. Here, he uses elements of the kit to make his own version of the rich Thai soup khao soi. To bring the dish to the next level he adds curry powder and coconut milk to the broth, then serves it over springy egg noodles. Fried egg noodles are sprinkled on top, along with fresh cilantro and a slice of lime.


Amen, Ramen

Pettit is blown away by the international craze for ramen. He fell in love with the soup in Japan and understands why it has taken over so many world cities, including Toronto. Inspired by the rich umami flavour of Campbell’s Vegetable Broth, he used it to design a vegetarian take on the typically meat-centric soup. Using the broth as a base, he adds nori seaweed, bamboo shoots, matchstick carrots and soft-boiled eggs for a perfect, rich winter soup.


Watch Chef Matt Dean Pettit create his Spicy Vegetarian Ramen



This is a sponsored post. For more on The Cantina by Campbell’s, please visit For Chef Matt Dean Pettit’s soup recipes go to


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