4 Tips to Make Your Homemade Soup Taste Way Better
Soup is a customizable way of delivering a multitude of flavors at once, says Dan Kluger, the award-winning chef and owner of Loring Place in New York and the author of the new book Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly (Buy It, $32, bookshop.org).
"You can add more ingredients and toppings to make it a full meal, while a light, bright soup is a great appetizer," he says. "Soup is endlessly adaptable."
Follow his tips on how to make soup to ensure it hits *all* the right notes.
Create Peaks and Valleys
That's what Kluger calls the different flavors and textures he layers into his soups. "I try to incorporate as many as I can," he says. To do that, start with aromatics like onions and garlic, and "cook them low and slow to develop as much sweetness as possible," says Kluger. Then add spices and herbs, vegetables, and beans if you're using them. Taste and season as you go.
Finish your soup by tossing in some chiles or fresh herbs and giving it a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, or a sprinkle of lemon zest. "That way, one bite will have a lot of those ingredients, and the next one won't," says Kluger. "Soup is more interesting when one bite is different from another."
How do you make soup that isn't watery? Instead of broth, Kluger likes to use the cooking water from beans to give soup a full-bodied consistency. Or he'll blend pureed vegetables like corn, cauliflower, and parsnips into it to give it silkiness.
And he may add a twist: "I'll top cream of broccoli soup with roasted broccoli," he says. "That elevates the flavor and makes for an exciting bowl." (If you're adding beans to your soup, make sure you follow these pointers to cook them to perfection.)
A punch of flavor at the end of cooking can make your soup a standout. Mix herbs like parsley, thyme, and oregano, or spices such as cumin, coriander, and cardamom, into some olive oil, and let it infuse for at least an hour or two. Pour it over soup just before serving. When the oil hits the hot soup, you'll really get the flavors, says Kluger.
Top It Off
The final, most important, tip on how to make soup: Think out of the box with toppings. "Try roasted mushrooms, which are crispy and savory," says Kluger . "Or grill Swiss chard stems and sprinkle them on soup." Better yet, toss spiced popcorn — yes, really — over a creamy corn chowder. There are no wrong answers here.
Shape Magazine, December 2020 issue