RELATED: Chicken noodle soup
How to thicken a watery soup
It’s hard to tell what can make soup runny – it could be the mixture of ingredients, the temperature, or even the environment. However, there are five easy things you can do to lessen the chances of a watery soup:
- Raise the temperature: If your soup seems too watery while cooking, turn up the heat so excess moisture gets evaporated.
- Don’t leave it on high heat for too long: Soup thickens as you cool it. Holding your soup at high heat can draw in excess moisture from the air and actually make it runnier.
- Leave it out to cool: High heat affects the natural starch found in most soups, causing it to break down. If your soup is acidic (like tomato soup) you may need to add more thickener than usual.
- Stir well: Remember that hot air rises and cool air sinks – if you’ve left your soup unstirred, you could disrupt how the heat is distributed in the dish. Don’t let it sit!
- Add a thickening agent: Thickening agents can be a remarkably effective way to thicken up your soup without diluting the flavour.
Best thickening agents for soup
One of the easiest ways to thicken soup is by blending butter with flour to make a roux (also called a beurre manié). It thickens the soup and stabilises the ingredients so they won’t come apart while cooking – making it very effective as an add-on for dishes like chicken soup.
How to use: Mix equal parts and stir into the pan while cooking.
Another way to thicken soup is with cornflour or cornstarch. It’s a very effective thickener that you should use in runnier dishes that need more volume, like vegetable soup. You only need a little of it to thicken your soup, since adding too much can make it take on the texture of paste or mash.
How to use: Prepare a tablespoon of cornstarch into a bowl and stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the soup. Whisk well, then add back the soup mixture. Simmer for a few minutes to allow granules to disperse.
Potatoes, rice and bread
If you want to add more body to an acidic dish like tomato soup, use some torn pieces of bread to alter the texture without changing the flavour. Alternatively, you can also add lentils, rice, and potatoes as a mash to make your broth a little more solid – this works well with dishes like pea and ham soup.
How to use: Add small mashed or pureed chunks to the soup mix, stir well, and cook till finished. Use stronger ingredients like sourdough or red lentils if you want to add flavour.
Cream or yogurt
Cream or yogurt is a simple way to thicken soup without flour. Use full cream if you want to add a bit of flavour to the broth, or yogurt if you’re looking to add more texture. Just be careful not to boil the soup after adding either since that could make it curdle or split. Ideal for nutty or roasted dishes like pumpkin soup.
How to use: Mix a spoonful into the soup after cooking.
Finally, ground nuts like cashews are a good addition to broth, for a nuttier fuller soup. It works especially well with red soups like tomato and bean, and can substitute dairy-based thickeners for the lactose intolerant.
How to use: Grind nuts then whisk with the broth in a small bowl. Whisk into the finished soup after cooking.
Mix, pour, and enjoy
You won’t always get the consistency of your soup just right, but at least now you know what to do when your soup gets a little runny. These ingredients will let you keep all the flavour with just a little bit of added thickness.