10 Tips for Making Perfect Soup, Every Single Time

posted: 01/13/16
by: Mara Betsch
tomato soup and grilled cheese

On cold nights, there is nothing better than a hot bowl of soup. And though you can buy the canned varieties, it's actually incredibly easy to make your own -- and have plenty of leftovers for lunches. But as someone who's made her fair share of bland or too-thin soups, I feel it's my duty to share the soup knowledge I've accumulated over the years. Follow these cooking tips (and remedies for common soup issues) to ensure you have a flavorful, lick-the-bottom-of-the-bowl-good soup each time.

1. Making a veggie soup? Saute the vegetables beforehand to bring out their flavor. This is also a good time to add salt and other seasonings to add flavor to your soup.

2. All soup taste a little bland at first. Before you boil the broth, your soup may taste a bit under-salted. But have no fear -- once the soup heats up and reduces a little bit, the flavors will come out.

3. If you soup tastes too salty, add water. Duh, right? To ensure your soup doesn't become too runny, you can add a potato, some rice, or pasta to soak up some liquid.

4. Making your own broth is best, but if you don't have time for that, add savory flavor to your soup using soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, miso, Parmesan rind, or tomato paste.

5. Soup too thin? Try making a roux, taking a cup or two of the soup out, blending it, and adding it back in, or adding some pureed beans.

6. Or try a slurry. Unlike a roux, a slurry is added at the end of cooking, doesn't use fat, and is easy to make. Use one tablespoon (for a small bowl of soup) and add a cut of hot cooking broth. Mix together, and you've got a slurry. Slowly add that mixture to your soup while stirring to add thickness.

7. Add V8. This savory beverage adds a depth of flavor, according to the experts at Cook's Illustrated.

8. Want creamier soup? Try yogurt -- it works like cream but has a lighter texture and tangier flavor.

9. Add tomatoes at the end. Sometimes the acid it tomatoes and can make veggies crunchy, so add the tomatoes last to allow everything else to cook properly.

10. Garnish, garnish, garnish. You'd be surprised what some lemon juice, a dollop or sour cream, or a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese will do to your finished product.

Now it's time to try your hand with these delicious tomato soup recipe. This variation uses lemon and thyme to brighten up sweet, roasted tomatoes. Make this now and enjoy, then save some and freeze for a quick meal next week. (Photos by Adam and Joanne Gallagher, Inspired Taste)

Here's how to make it.

Quarter a bunch of tomatoes. Then, throw the tomatoes, some thyme sprigs, garlic cloves and a few strips of lemon zest onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil on top, season with salt, and toss.

Roast everything in the oven until the tomatoes begin to caramelize around the edges. Discard the thyme sprigs and any large lemon strips.

Next, heat a large pot over medium heat, and cook two onions that have been coarsely chopped. When the onions have softened, add the roasted tomatoes and garlic cloves.

Now, add chicken stock and a large can of tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes, then, working in batches, pass everything through a food mill. Or, use a blender.

Season the soup to taste, and pour in some cream or half-and-half. Serve as is, with croutons or with some crumbled blue cheese on top.

Tomato Soup with Lemon and Thyme Recipe
Recipe and Photos by Adam and Joanne Gallagher of Inspired Taste food blog for Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 25 mins
Total time: 1 hour 40 mins
Serves: 6

o 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered
o 4 sprigs fresh thyme (substitute 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves)
o 4 whole garlic cloves, skins removed
o 4 strips lemon zest, each 1/4-inch wide and 2 inches long
o 4 tablespoons olive oil
o 1 tablespoon salt
o 2 cups chopped onions (about 2 onions)
o 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
o 4 cups (1 quart) chicken stock
o 1/4 cup half and half
o salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Toss tomatoes, garlic, thyme sprigs, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of olive and 1 tablespoon of salt together.
3. Spread tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until the edges of the tomatoes begin to caramelize. Once roasted, remove and discard thyme sprigs and lemon zest.
4. In a large stockpot over medium heat, saut? the onions with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 5-10 minutes until the onions begin to brown.
5. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes and garlic, including the liquid on the baking sheet, canned tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
6. Pass soup through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade, or blend using an immersion blender or blender.
7. Add back to the pot, then add half and half. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.