Soup is soul food, satisfying and warming on a cold day or night. Sometimes, though, you make a pot of soup that’s good and fine, but maybe you wish it were a little bit… better. Maybe you want to take this soup to the next level, and give it something extra to improve the taste, texture, or complexity of flavor.
Here are a few tips to take you beyond the recipe and make all your soups sing.
1. Brown or sear the meat
If you are adding meat to a soup, sear or brown it in a sauté pan before you add it to the soup. This adds a deeper savory flavor to the whole soup. This trick is especially useful for things like chicken and sausage, which can sometimes get bland and rubbery while floating in a brothy soup.
2. Roast the the veggies
Similar to searing meat, try roasting your vegetables before adding them to the soup. This gives them a little bit of char and concentrates their flavor, giving the soup a more complex taste.
Try making an easy roasted root vegetable soup with squash, potatoes, carrots, and any other vegetables you like. Roast them for half the amount of time you normally would, then mix them into a warm pot of broth. Add some beans or leftover meat from another meal to round it out.
3. Mix up the texture
Mash or puree some vegetables in your soup to give it a creamy texture while still having some chunky bits, or puree the whole thing for a silky-smooth experience. If your ingredients won’t puree easily (like a beef stew), then try pureeing some white beans and mixing them in.
4. Use homemade stock whenever possible
5. Put your cheese rinds to work
When you’re down to the last nub of that block of Parmesan, Pecornio, or other hard cheese, freeze it and toss a rind or two in the pot next time you’re making soup. The will soften and add extra nutty flavor to the recipe. Remove from the soup before serving.
6. Perk up a bland soup with simple pantry staples
Got a soup that tastes a little bland and unexciting? Add a splash of vinegar (any kind!), or a squeeze of citrus. Chances are, you could use a little more salt. Go ahead—it’s ok. Salt perks up flat flavors and helps balance out bitter-tasting ingredients. Some freshly cracked pepper helps, too!
7. Add fresh herbs or dairy when serving
Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and cilantro lose their flavor quickly if simmered in a hot soup, but they add freshness and bright flavor when sprinkled over top just before serving.
A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt can add a bit of tang to cool off a spicy soup or balance the sweetness in soups made with a lot of root vegetables.