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How to Make Soup Taste Better, From the Stock to the Toppings to the Leftovers

by News Times USA


While many wonderful stocks are built around a roster of ingredients, from bones and dried seafood to spices, veg scraps, and cheese rinds, the pot needn’t always be a full house! You can extract a clean, strong broth from a combination of water and several pantry ingredients. It’s all about layering powerful flavor-enhancers that you probably already have on hand—bacon, tomato paste, herbs, peppercorns, a Parmesan rind, and, of course, kosher salt.

2. It’s all about that base.

Whether you’re starting with a classic combo—sofrito, mirepoix, the Cajun trinity of onion, green bell pepper, and celery—or just a mishmash of vegetables from your fridge, these aromatics will infuse the whole pot. Sweat them slowly and gently for sweetness, or brown them deeply for a toastier, more savory backbone.

3. Sear before you simmer.

Browning your ingredients on the stovetop or in the oven creates deep, savory flavors that you won’t get from simply adding those same ingredients straight to a pot of water.

Take our Double-Dark Chicken Noodle Soup recipe, for example. By browning the wings on the stovetop, you caramelize all of their nooks and crannies, which, in turn, imbues the stock with flavor.

To achieve a similar goal but keep your hands (and stove) free, consider the oven: For the most savory meat stock, begin by browning the bones (and the veg too!) on a sheet pan. Or bake a halved winter squash, then discard the seeds, scoop out the flesh, and blend with broth. Or, for the tomatoiest tomato soup possible, start by roasting canned whole tomatoes until jammy in order to intensify their umami underpinnings. If you’re tired of babysitting dried beans, bring them to a simmer on the stove, then cover the pot and stick it in a 300° oven: The gentle all-around heat will cook them to tender perfection.

4. Season as you go.

Adding unseasoned ingredients to seasoned ones makes your mixture bland. This is why it’s imperative to add salt not just when the dish is complete but at every stage of the process. Sweating aromatics? Season them. Adding more stock? Salt it. Tossing a bunch of veg into the pot? You get the point. Taste constantly and adjust as you go—you’ll be amazed at the intensity that comes through when you nail it.

5. For silky purées, sweat your vegetables.

Simmering vegetables in a covered pot over low heat so that they steam in their own liquid—a French technique called à l’étouffée—is the ticket to achieving a soup with pronounced depth. We love this method with cauliflower, but also try it with celeriac or rutabagas.

6. Make it creamy—without cream. 

It’s possible to replicate the silky richness of cream without drizzling in dairy—and to add even more flavor along the way. Blend in a big spoonful of nut or seed butter (peanut, almond, cashew, tahini), cooked beans, or a scoop of hummus. Or incorporate a peeled, boiled potato, cubes of crustless bread, or steamed or roasted cauliflower. If you’re not excited by puréed soup but you still crave creaminess, cook rice or barley in the stock for a porridge-like consistency, thicken it with a chickpea flour slurry, or mix in coconut milk or coconut cream for heat-cutting sweetness 



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