How To Thicken Soup

Today it’s all about how to thicken soup. Properly thickening soups can make a significant difference in flavor and texture, and there are several reasons why you should thicken soups. Thickening a soup is a powerful tool to enhance your soup game and to make your life easier during a diet.

thick soup served in bowl with pieces of toasted bread

We’ll also focus on which soups are worth thickening to create a culinary masterpiece, the different techniques you can apply, and what health and diet benefits it provides.

Why Should You Thicken Soups?

There are a few reasons that may make us want to do so. First, thickening a soup can improve its consistency and give it a creamy texture. This can be especially beneficial for soups that have a thin consistency, such as clear broths or clear vegetable soups.

In addition, thickening a soup can lead to more intense flavor development. When a soup is slightly thicker, the flavor stays on the tongue longer, and the different flavors have more time to develop. This is especially beneficial in hearty soups like potato soup or lentil soup.

Another reason we may want to thicken soups is to create a richer and more filling meal. When a soup is thicker, it often seems more filling as well, which can be especially beneficial when making soups as a main dish or when you’re on a diet to remain full and satisfied without adding many calories.

Soups Worth Thickening

Now that we’ve cleared up the reasons let’s find out which soups are worth thickening. There are a variety of soups where thickening can make a real difference. Here are a few examples:

  1. Creamy vegetable soups
    Soups based on pureed vegetables, like a creamy carrot-ginger soup or a cauliflower soup, benefit from some thickening. It gives them a velvety texture and helps bring out the different flavors.
  2. Stews and chilis
    Hearty stews and chilis, such as a hearty bean stew or a spicy ground beef chili, can be given a thicker consistency by thickening with a roux or by adding legumes such as pureed beans or lentils. This makes them a satisfying meal on cold days.
  3. Fish soups and chowders
    Fish soups and chowders are often naturally creamy, but thickening can give them an even richer texture. A thick, creamy fish chowder with a crusty baguette is a real treat for seafood lovers.
  4. Chicken soups
    Classic chicken soups can also benefit from thickening. A slightly thicker consistency can increase comfort and ensure that the soup satiates longer. However, it’s important not to thicken the soup too much to maintain the natural lightness of the chicken flavor.

Different Techniques To Thicken Soups

Thickening soups can be done in several ways, each with its own benefits. Here are some of the most common methods for thickening soups:

  1. Roux
    A roux is a classic method for thickening soups. It involves lightly browning flour in hot fat or oil and adding liquid such as broth or milk. The roux provides a creamy consistency while adding a pleasant flavor to the soup.
  2. Mashed potatoes
    Mashed potatoes are a versatile ingredient that can be used to thicken soups. Adding mashed potatoes to soup makes it creamy and gives it a slightly creamy texture. Potatoes are also a good source of fiber and contain important nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6.
  3. Vegetable puree
    Besides potatoes, other vegetables, such as carrots, pumpkin, or cauliflower, can be used to thicken soups. Pureeing the vegetables and adding them to the soup creates a thicker consistency and intensifies the flavor of the vegetables. Vegetable purees are healthy and add a vibrant color and unique flavor to the soup.
  4. Legumes
    Legumes such as beans, lentils, or chickpeas can also be used to thicken soups. These protein-rich ingredients are cooked and pureed before being added to the soup. Legumes are a good source of vegetable protein and contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  5. Starch slurry
    Another great way to thicken any broth-based soup is to add a starch slurry during cooking. You have to dissolve a teaspoon of any other kind of flour – to keep it gluten-free, I suggest potato flour – in a little bit of cold water. Add it slowly to your soup since it takes a while to thicken the broth. A starch slurry is an easy way to thicken any clear vegetable soup or stew without changing the taste.

Health Benefits Of Thickening Soups

Thickening soups can also provide health benefits. Here are some of them.

  1. Satiety
    A thicker soup can provide a stronger feeling of fullness because it stays in the stomach longer. This can help control appetite and avoid overeating.
  2. Nutrient absorption
    Thickening soups with vegetable purees or legumes increases the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are essential for a balanced diet and can contribute to overall health.
  3. Digestive support
    Dietary fiber in thickened soups can aid digestion and promote healthy bowel function. They help regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.
  4. Taste and texture
    Thickening soups can lead to an enhanced taste and texture experience. A creamy soup with a thick consistency can make eating a pleasure and intensify the taste experience. Thus you feel satisfied and don’t crave any unhealthy, calorie-dense food.

Final thoughts

There you have it, several ways to thicken soup. Overall, thickening soups not only provide culinary benefits but can also promote health and wellness.

Experiment with different thickening methods and discover various ways to take your soups to the next level. For me, adding vegetable purees or a potatoes starch slurry worked best. Bon appétit!

Lindsey Morgan
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