It’s soup season! The cool weather screams for some warm, liquid nourishment. But sometimes you make a soup and it ends up thinner than you’d like, and you want to fix that. How to make soup thicker? Here are some soup thickening agents you can use.
Add or subtract
You have the choice of either adding a thickening agent to the soup, or subtracting some the whole ingredients already in the soup to make it thicker.
Some ingredients make creamy, thick broths as they cook down. These include lentils, split peas, and mung beans. As long as you don’t add too much water, you’ll end up with a thick, hearty soup. So you can start with those to ensure a thicker finished product.
Blend or mash some of the soup
To “subtract” ingredients, take some of them out and blend or mash them, to create a thicker texture. No need to remove them from the pot.
You can use a potato masher and smash some of them. Leave some of them whole, to get nice texture. I do this with a Portuguese Bean Soup recipe I make. Without mashing, I get a watery broth with chunks of potato, carrot, and beans. After I mash part of the soup, I get a thick, creamy mixture loaded with beans, carrots and potatoes. Delicious!
You can also use a blender to blend part or all of your soup. This works especially well if you have a starchy ingredient in your soup, such as potatoes or pumpkin. The starch creates a velvety texture.
When you add hot foods to a blender, NEVER put the lid on completely, without leaving room for the air to escape. This can cause your blender to explode, spurting hot soup everywhere.
ALWAYS take the lid, or at least that center section out, and cover it with a cloth or towel. Or leave the lid ajar. I do this and also cover it with a towel, just to be safe.
Use a starch slurry
A slurry is a mixture of starch and water. You can use any number of starches, including cornstarch, flour, potato starch, rice flour, arrowroot, or tapioca starch. But the properties of each differ. For example, a flour slurry will end up with a cloudy or opaque soup. Cornstarch slurries end up clear or translucent.
To use a slurry, blend the starch with a small amount of COLD water until it is dissolved. Then add to your soup and stir constantly until the soup boils and the mixture thickens. Often it will thicken even more as it cools.
You can try something like 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water. Or about 4 Tablespoons flour in 1/2 cup water. See if that is enough. If not, repeat until it is thick enough.
Since you just diluted the soup, taste it and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. And I recommend taking notes every time you make a new recipe. Nothing is more frustrating than cooking something, and not taking notes, since you figure you’ll never make it again, and having it turn out so delicious, you WANT to make it again, but you didn’t write anything down or measure as you go! (It’s happened too many times!)
Use a cooked roux
Roux is the classic thickening method used in Cajun and Creole cooking in Louisiana. Gumbo gets its thickness and flavor in large part from the roux.
Basically, equal parts of fat and flour are used. Fat can be lard, bacon fat, shortening, oil, or butter. The mixture is cooked and stirred for up to several hours. It must be watched carefully so it doesn’t burn. The starches in the flour brown and produce a rich flavor and dark color.
Each cook will have a special mixture and procedure to make their dishes shine in their own fabulous way. Some people make the roux in the oven, but however you make it, patience is required.
Those are the basic soup thickening agents you can use. Now that you know how to thicken soup, you’ll be able to fix your too-watery concoction the next time it happens.