10 Secrets to Making Flavorful, Nutritious Soup

From EatingWell Magazine

Whether you’re a confident cook or a kitchen newbie, a little expert advice can help you polish your kitchen skills. Here are 10 need-to-know tips and techniques that can make soup more flavorful and nutritious. Read ’em and then go get out your favorite soup pot!

1. Don’t boil it, simmer it.

Low and slow cooking—a gentle simmer instead of a rapid boil—is a golden rule for making soup. Boiling causes your veggies to break apart and can turn your meat into tough, hard-to-chew pieces.

2. Enrich store-bought broth.

Give store-bought broth more savory flavor by simmering it with extra meat, bones or aromatics, such as herbs, spices or fresh ginger or garlic, for at least 20 minutes. Strain the broth, then use it for your soup.

3. Employ the whole vegetable.

Stems and tops from veggies like broccoli, chard and leeks become tender when cooked. Add them to the pot and you’ll get all those extra nutrients and fiber while reducing food waste. 

4. Thicken with stale bread, beans or mashed potatoes.

When stirred into soup, stale bread, mashed beans and mashed potatoes cook down to create a creamy, rich texture, all without adding cream. This is also a great way to use up leftovers.

5. Rinse canned beans.

Here’s an instant way to make canned beans healthier before adding them to your soup: rinse them. Giving your beans a cold shower reduces the sodium by a third.

6. Stir in a Parmesan rind.

When you’re no longer able to grate cheese off a hunk of Parmesan, hang onto the rind to pop it into your next pot of soup. You’ll get another layer of nutty flavor that takes your soup from meh to magnifico.

7. Use the soaking liquid.

Dried chiles and mushrooms have concentrated flavor that ends up in the rehydrating liquid. Strain this flavorful soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth and use it in soup for an extra hit of flavor.

8. Cook pasta & grains perfectly.

Even after the stove is off, heat from the soup continues to soften your ingredients. Keep your pasta and grains from turning to mush by cooking them in your soup for a touch less time than the package directions call for. Or cook them separately and stir them into the soup just before serving for the perfect texture.

9. Add soft herbs at the end.

Fresh soft herbs, such as basil, parsley and cilantro, lose their flavor when cooked too long. To preserve their essence, add them just before serving. Hardier herbs, like sage and rosemary, will hold up longer and can be added earlier in the cooking process.

10. Taste and adjust.

If your soup needs a flavor bump, first try adding an acid, such as a squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of vinegar. Acidity brightens flavors. Still not perfect? Try adding salt—a tiny bit at a time, which will also enhance the way things taste. Miso, soy sauce, fish sauce, anchovy paste or Worcestershire also get the job done while adding a hit of umami.

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