Did you know that January is National Soup Month? We did, which is why we wanted to remind you of just how glorious a bowl of soup truly is and encourage your soup-making spirit. When it’s cold outside, soup warms you up, and homemade soup feels like a bowlful of home. According to French master chef Louis Pullig de Gouy, soup is the kindest course since it offers comfort. It’s super convenient, and you can also make it fancy and serve it as an appetizer for a dinner party as well.
There’s a spectacular array of soups from across the globe that you can sample, from ruby red borscht to a seafood bouillabaisse extravaganza. You can savor the silky, creamy Asian flavors of a laksa or the rich, Mediterranean tomato flavors of a chilled gazpacho. This is the month to look after yourself, keep warm, and make soup. Before you turn up the heat under your saucepan, start chopping up some winter vegetables, and make your own stock, it’s best to consider some tips that might help your soup taste better.
1. Thicken soup up with instant mash
There’s nothing better than a hearty bowl of soup full of nutritious goodness. Imagine sinking your spoon into the delicious broth and tasting that thick stew-like warmth. Now imagine your spoon appears with watery soup that spills over the side. Not quite as appealing, right? If you’ve made a splendid soup, but it’s a little too thin, then don’t worry, there’s a quick fix.
One Reddit tip is to add instant mashed potato into the soup to create a more robust consistency. However, while adding some potato flakes works well in certain types of soup, such as potato, the advice is to not add too many to certain types of soup, such as cheese and broccoli. When it comes to hot and sour soups, the suggestion is to forgo potato flakes and use cornstarch instead in the style of Chinese cuisine.
Vietnamese pho is another soup that isn’t suitable for adding potato flakes. If instant mash is added to the soup, then you need to taste and adjust the seasoning, as you may need to add more ingredients to balance out the flavor of the potato. While there isn’t any guidance on how much of the potato to add, it’s probably best to keep in mind that your aim is to thicken the soup, so it’s mostly a judgment call.
2. Create a beurre manié for a thicker soup
If you’ve made your own stock and want to simmer all your soup goodies in it, it’s not so easy to get the right ratio of liquid and other ingredients just right. As your broth bubbles away, the steam will take some of the soupiness with it, and of course, the consistency of the soup depends on what type of soup you’re making and how you make it.
One traditional tip that’s good to know if you find that the soup you’re left with is too thin is to use the beurre manié method. According to the online culinary school, Rouxbe, this butter and flour dough is a classic thickener.
Knead together the same amounts of butter and flour when you’re ready to thicken your soup. This is where the good tips come into play: Firstly, don’t add a whole load of the beurre manié so that you can control how thick your soup is. Bring the heat up so that the broth boils. That way, butter can melt into the liquid, leaving the flour to boost consistency without leaving your soup full of floury bits.
Continue simmering the soup after thickening so that the flour has time to cook through. A YouTube video from DearMartiniKitchen suggests using a tablespoon of beurre manié per cup of soup and whisking for a few minutes as it dissolves. You can also make the paste beforehand and freeze it so that it’s ready for use.
3. Peel butternut pumpkins easily for soup
Butternut squash soup is too good: It’s little wonder that this robust vegetable is so perfect for making a hearty soup. To make butternut squash soup, all you have to do is peel the squash and then take out the gooey bit inside, and then chop it into cubes. However, if you’ve ever grappled with a squash of any type in the kitchen, then you’ll know that cutting it up and peeling it is no mean feat.
Before it’s cooked the squash is rock hard, and the peel feels as if it’s stuck on, so it’s not easy to prep at all. In fact, this is one reason that no doubt puts many home chefs off from using this tasty produce. If only there were a simpler way. Actually, there is. A TikTok hack shows how to easily peel butternut pumpkins, which also means making soup is easier too.
Cut your squash in half and cut off the ends. Place each half cut-side down in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. When it’s done, the peel will just come away from the soft vegetable underneath with one pull. Now you can use this pulpy goodness to make your own pot of steaming soup. Just make sure that it isn’t too hot when you try this, or you’ll burn your fingers.
4. Create fluffier egg soup
Egg drop soup is a classic Asian recipe that is made from raw eggs being dropped into hot broth, with other ingredients added, such as chopped scallions or little cubes of firm tofu. You can also add tomatoes or green peas. This is certainly a unique soup, and it’s an interesting way to eat eggs, for sure.
There’s no set consistency or recipe, as these vary depending on different regions and, of course, preferences. In Japan, this warming, eggy soup is called kakitamajiru and is best enjoyed if the eggs are nice and fluffy. Japan Today highlights a tip from the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives on how to get just the right fluffiness.
Make sure all the other soup ingredients have been added before you get to the part when you add the eggs. Beat the eggs and stir your soup so that it starts moving in a certain circular direction. Now pour in your beaten eggs so that you’re doing so in the opposite direction.
In other words, your water is swirling in a clockwise direction, so you pour the eggs in a circular motion in an anti-clockwise direction. The more momentum you have, the fluffier the eggs will be. Serve with soy sauce or with some udon noodles for some velvety comfort.
5. Use pre-roasted chicken
You know you don’t have to be feeling under the weather to enjoy some delicious chicken soup. Not only is it a wonderful winter warmer, but it’s delicious for an after-work dinner on any night of the week, a weekend lunch that warms the cockles of your heart, or even a supper curling up with a steaming bowl.
Usually, you have to cook the chicken in the broth before taking it out and turning it into shreds before adding it back into the pan. Well, according to Parade, whether you’re making a crock pot chicken and rice soup, or any other type of chicken soup, there’s another way that might just work better.
Instead of cooking the chicken in the soup, roast it in the oven instead. The advantages of this are that it gives the flavor greater intensity. Because you’re keeping the chicken separate from the soup, you can shred it beforehand rather than during your soup-making. Perhaps the biggest plus is that you can even roast the chicken earlier, saving you time when it comes to making your soup. If you want to make it even easier, use a rotisserie chicken and save on the roasting at home.
The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, suggests cooking a whole bird in the simmering soup in a Dutch Oven surrounded by the other ingredients rather than cutting up pieces of chicken. It’ll be so soft after a couple of hours that it’ll be easier to shred.
6. Enhance ramen soup
Who doesn’t love ramen? What makes this soup so special are those sublimely soft noodles and the fact that the right way to eat it is to slurp it. Sucking up the noodles as you dip into the soup allows them to cool off, which allows you to really taste all those fine flavors. A feature in The Daily Meal highlights just how beloved instant ramen noodles are, too, if you can’t get around to making your own.
What if you could upgrade your instant ramen to you have a homemade-style soup that’s way quicker to make? YouTuber Harapeko Grizzly demonstrates an easy way to give your instant ramen a bit of a flavor lift. Cook the dried noodles in boiling water. Mix an egg with some mayonnaise, minced garlic, and a sachet of ramen seasoning in a bowl. Mix and add the noodle-cooking water to make the soup, stirring as you do. Next, drop in the noodles, and garnish with half a soft-boiled egg and some chopped green onions. Eat with a spoon and chopsticks.
7. Clarify homemade stock
Every good home cook knows that the secret to a successful soup is in the stock. Yes, you can buy good quality stock from the store or add in herbs and spices along with ingredients to create a rich depth of flavor. Homemade stock is essentially a soup, but if you want it to be full of taste, but not full of bits, and have a clearer color, then you need to clarify it. If it’s all starting to sound a bit too technical, then rest assured that where there’s a good tip to point the way (via Better Homes & Gardens).
After you’ve added your own selection of ingredients to make your soup stock, strain it using a colander with a couple of sheets of cheesecloth inside. Then, strain and collect the liquid in a bowl, and underneath, you’ll have your stock. You want this to be just liquid, with no other ingredients in there.
It’ll still be hot at this point, so add in an egg white that’s been mixed with a quarter cup of cold water. Bring your stock and egg mix to a boil, and then take it off the heat for five minutes. Any ingredients in the liquid will be attracted to the egg. Then, strain it again, and you’ll be able to marvel at your clear stock.
8. Take out the excess salt
Whether you’re channeling the salt-throwing antics of Salt Bae or you just love really seasoned salt, it’s easy to end up going too far. While under-seasoned soup can be a bit bland, if your broth is too salty, then it can be ruined and not appetizing in the least. Don’t worry, though. If the salt came out of the cellar too fast or you just got it wrong, all is not lost. There’s a simple way to get rid of excess salt that’s a good tip to know when you’re in a culinary fix (via TikTok).
Peel a potato and drop it whole into your soup. As the salty soup continues to simmer, the carb will absorb the salt. You don’t need to do anything else. Although this tip doesn’t explicitly tell you not to do so, it’s probably pretty obvious that you don’t want to be ladling the potato into any bowls with your perfectly seasoned chowder or bisque.
MasterClass advises removing the spud after 30 minutes to avoid it being totally cooked. If you’re short on time, cut the potato up and add pieces to your bubbling pan. Just make sure they don’t become just another ingredient and fish them out in time to remove the salty taste.
9. Upgrade boxed soup
Spending time in the kitchen mindfully making a healthy, nutritious soup sounds nourishingly therapeutic for the mind and body. You can follow your own recipe, adding whatever veggies, meat, herbs, and spices you choose, enjoying the whole process from prepping to simmering, and perhaps clarifying too.
If you need inspiration, you could also try one of our wonderful winter soups. If time is not your friend, or you don’t have the ingredients to hand, then you might feel your only other option is a store-bought soup.
Another option is to grab a boxed broth and give it an upgrade so that the soup tastes homemade. Give your soup a boost with some extra veggies thrown in, and make sure it’s well-seasoned. Roast some meat to add in or create a tangy taste with some cheese.
There are so many flavors of soup, so consider what would enhance those notes, such as interesting toppings like croutons. Don’t hold back from adding some spice, as fresh herbs can really elevate a bowl of soup too. Think about adding some umami by adding some miso or mushrooms for some acidity. You don’t need to add a lot to lift the depth of the soup, and it’s a quick way to transform it from an okay bowlful to one that feels full of culinary love.
10. Make magic leek soup
The season 2 storyline of the Netflix series "Emily In Paris" involves the eponymous character coming up with a marketing idea to create magic leek soup (via Netflix Life). While you may be forgiven for thinking this is as fictional as the show, it’s actually based on a real French soup. Culturally, this is a broth that’s favored by those watching their waistlines.
Whether any weight is truly lost from sipping on water that leeks have been boiled in is not certain, but leeks are full of good nutrients, so you may want to try making your own version that doesn’t entail throwing away these green stalks of goodness. Eating Well highlights how leeks contain prebiotics that feed on gut bacteria.
They’re also rich in vitamins, especially K and C. A great recipe to try is our leek and potato soup using an instant pot. It may not make the cut as a dieter’s delight, but it’s definitely an incredibly tasty bowl of nourishing ingredients that’ll make you feel happy, content, and full.
11. Add crunchy homemade croutons
Even the most appetizing of soups, with a sublimely smooth taste that’s full of flavor, can seem lacking in some way. It’s probably why dunking a big hunk of bread in the soup and letting it soak into the soft, doughy loaf tastes so darn good. Another way to elevate your soup is by adding some croutons.
That way, you get the velvety texture of a soup and the crunchy topping. And if you haven’t got any store-bought ones, then it’s easy enough to make your own. Follow a YouTube tip from The Culture of Cookery for a quick crouton idea by toasting a slice of bread. Rub the toast with a peeled garlic clove, butter, and season with salt. Cut it into croutons, and they’re done.
Fork In The Road suggests baking croutons in the oven. If you want to freeze them, just make sure they’ve cooled down properly first, and after thawing on a paper towel, you might want to crisp them up again in a pan or the oven.
Why make lots of croutons when you can make just one big one with melted cheese on top? Toast sturdy bread slices, like sourdough and butter, and melt cheese on top either while it’s in the soup or separately, depending on whether your bowls are fit to withstand the broiler heat or not (via Magnolia Days).
12. Serve soup in bread instead of with it
You may have heard of chowder served in a sourdough bowl. However, you may not have thought about enjoying your soup by serving it inside some cheese on toast. That isn’t a mistake: It’s actually soup served inside a toasted sandwich. This quirky TikTok tip comes courtesy of @foodmadesimple. If you want to give it a go, here’s how.
Roll a can of tomato soup on top of a slice of bread, in the middle only, to create an indentation. This should cover most of the slice with the outer edges not pressed down. Toast the slice and lay it flat on a baking tray. Pour the soup into the well and sprinkle on some grated cheese. Put it under the broiler.
Once the cheese has melted and browned on top, it’s ready. Cut it in half and enjoy the cheesy, soupy slice. Just be careful while you’re eating this that the hot soup doesn’t spill out and burn you!
13. Dunk grilled cheese rolls
It’s not just bread and croutons that are a perfect match with soup: Cheese on toast is a must with tomato soup. It’s a much-loved combination, but that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t be creative. Good Morning America featured a hack from Chris Collins from Something About Sandwiches that suggests making grilled cheese rolls.
It’s ingenious because it takes the classic idea and makes the cheesy bread perfect for dunking. It doesn’t take any more effort or time either. In fact, it’s easier than watching cheese bubble under the broiler.
First, cut the crusts off slices of bread. Flatten the slices so they’re quite thin, and sprinkle on some finely grated cheese. Press down on the cheese slightly. Roll up each slice so it’s fairly compact, brushing some melted butter on the end, so it sticks together. Brush the melted butter over the outside of the rolls and fry them in a pan, starting with the join down before turning them as they cook. You want the rolls to be lovely and browned all the way around.
You’ll know they’re done once the cheese melts and just begins to come out the ends of the rolls. Make a stack of these to dunk. What’s more enjoyable than a tomato soup-covered crunchy, cheesy roll?