7 Tips for Successful Soup Making | America's Test Kitchen (2024)

Cooking Tips

Follow our kitchen-tested tips for flavorful and hearty soup, every time.

7 Tips for Successful Soup Making | America's Test Kitchen (1)By

Published Oct. 10, 2022.

7 Tips for Successful Soup Making | America's Test Kitchen (2)

To make sure that every spoonful of soup is richly flavored, with juicy meat and/or tender vegetables, follow these kitchen-tested tips.

1. Use a Sturdy Pot

It is worth investing in a heavy pot with a thick bottom to use for making soup. It will transfer heat evenly and prevent scorching, which can impart a burnt flavor to your soup.

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2. Sauté the Aromatics

The first step in making many soups is to sauté aromatic vegetables such as onions and garlic. Sautéing not only softens their texture so that there is no unwelcome crunch in the soup but also tames any harsh flavors and develops more-complex flavors in the process. Medium heat is usually a good temperature for sautéing.

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3. Start with Good Broth

A soup tastes like what you put into it. In minimally seasoned soups where the broth takes center stage, we almost always use homemade—you can use your Instant Pot to make broth in record time. However, in most cases, good store-bought broth (and even broth concentrate) is a fine and convenient option. Please note: Differences among packaged broths are significant.

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4. Cut Vegetables to the Right Size

Most soups call for chunks of vegetables. Haphazardly cut vegetables will cook unevenly—some pieces will be underdone and crunchy while others will be mushy. Cutting the vegetables to the size specified ensures that all the pieces will be perfectly cooked.

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5. Stagger the Addition of Vegetables

When a soup contains a variety of vegetables, their addition to the pot must often be staggered to account for their varying cooking times. Dense vegetables such as potatoes and winter squash can withstand much more cooking than delicate asparagus or spinach.

7 Tips for Successful Soup Making | America's Test Kitchen (6)

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6. Keep Liquid at a Simmer

The fine line between simmering and boiling makes a big difference. A simmer is a restrained boil; fewer bubbles break the surface, and they do so with less vigor. Simmering heats food more gently and more evenly; boiling causes vegetables such as potatoes to break apart or fray at the edges, and it can toughen meat, too.

7 Tips for Successful Soup Making | America's Test Kitchen (7)

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7. Season Just Before Serving

The saltiness of the broth and other ingredients, such as canned tomatoes and canned beans, can vary greatly, so it's always best to taste and adjust the seasoning (salt as well as pepper, delicate herbs, and fresh citrus) just before ladling the soup into bowls for serving.

Photo: Kathrin Ziegler, Getty Images

7 Tips for Successful Soup Making | America's Test Kitchen (2024)

FAQs

What are the 5 basic principles to be followed in making delicious soup? ›

The document provides 5 basic principles of preparing soup: 1) Starting with cold water. 2) Cutting vegetables to an appropriate size. 3) Selecting a protein such as beef, chicken, pork, or fish. 4) Simmering the soup for 4 hours.

What makes homemade soup taste better? ›

7 Easy Ways to Make Any Soup Better
  1. Brown or Sear the Meat. ...
  2. Roast the the Veggies. ...
  3. Mix up the Texture. ...
  4. Use Homemade Stock Whenever Possible. ...
  5. Put Your Cheese Rinds to Work. ...
  6. Perk up a Bland Soup With Simple Pantry Staples. ...
  7. Add Fresh Herbs or Dairy When Serving.

What not to do when making soup? ›

The 7 Biggest Mistakes You Make Cooking Soup
  1. Boiling instead of simmering. You want a small bubble or two to rise to the surface of the liquid every few seconds. ...
  2. Not using enough salt. ...
  3. Ignoring water. ...
  4. Overcooking the vegetables. ...
  5. Adding tomatoes at the beginning. ...
  6. Neglecting to garnish. ...
  7. Not trying a pressure cooker.
Nov 19, 2014

What are 6 qualities of a good soup? ›

A good soup should be full-flavored, with no off or sour tastes. Flavors from each of the soup's ingre- dients should blend and complement, with no one flavor overpowering another. Con- sommés should be crystal clear. The vegetables in vegetable soups should be brightly colored, not gray.

What is the secret ingredient in soup? ›

It may sound a bit strange and unusual for some, but vinegar is a common ingredient in some soup recipes, and there is a good reason for it. If you think about it, vinegar is really a flavor-enhancer (umami). That's why it is so often used in cooking, sauces, and salad dressings. The same is true with soups.

What is the most important ingredient in soup? ›

For clear, brothy soups, stock is your most important ingredient. If you want to make a good soup, you need to use an excellently flavored stock — otherwise, the entire pot could be tasteless.

What gives soup depth of flavor? ›

Dried herbs and seasonings: homemade seasoned salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and dried bay leaves lend flavor to the soup.

What seasoning makes soup taste better? ›

"Use fresh or dried basil in tomato-based recipes or fresh parsley to add freshness to clear broth soups," says Sofia Norton, RD. You can also go with more heat and spices. "Ground paprika, turmeric, nutmeg, ground ginger, and other powdered spices add a touch of color and spiciness to broths," she says.

What is the common problem of making soup? ›

Overcooking the vegetables:

Try to avoid overcooking vegetables, by adding them according to how much time they need to cook. Regardless of what people think, soup making is a gradual process. For more depth of flavor, add the vegetables that need to cook the longest first.

When should you add celery to soup? ›

But once those vegetables are exhausted, they're strained and switched out for a fresh set of thinly sliced celery and carrot. These are added for the final 4–5 minutes of cooking so that they're tender but nowhere near mushy. You get the sweet luxury of long-cooked vegetables and the freshness of crisp-tender ones.

Why put a stone in soup? ›

Stone boiling is an ancient cooking technique to heat food with directly exposing it to flame, reducing the likelihood of burning, and allowing the construction of stews and soups.

What makes a well-made soup? ›

All soups and stews must have three major components in order to be tasty: an undercurrent liquid, aromatics, and volumizing ingredients. In every case, they're layered together until all of the flavors meld together in a harmonious, silky balance.

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