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The answers to this question state that adding a Parmesan rind to a cooking soup will add a cheesy flavor to the soup.

How much flavor does a rind really add? Does it flavor the soup to a degree that it will replace freshly grated Parmesan?

Does it thicken or cloud the soup?

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3 Answers 3

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What parmesan rind adds isn't so much cheesiness (an extremely difficult to pin down set of flavors, considering how many cheeses there are), but rather "umami". Umami is thought of as the "fifth flavor", after sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It's normally described as savory/musty. Common foods with umami flavors (other than parmesan rind) include mushrooms, beef, anchovy, seaweed, soy and fish sauces, and (somewhat less so) tomato pastes.

In the right recipe (beef stews, coq au vin), a blast of umami can be amazing. Parmesan rind is subtler than that, but still a good tool to have at your disposal.

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This is a reasonable answer but I don't think the long-winded explanation of umami is really called for; we already have a number of questions on that fairly tangential subject. –  Aaronut Feb 3 '12 at 22:12
    
Does the rind thicken or cloud the soup? –  KatieK Feb 8 '12 at 1:53
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Using the rind is all about using every last bit of flavour from your food items, and since it costs so much you want to maximize usage. Ground rind tastes almost bitter at times but if simmered in a soup it adds flavour depth like a previous poster stated about the umami taste.

Think of it like cilantro/corriander. You have leaves which you use at the last second for a freshness kick, the stalks which are used in longer cooking methods, the root and seeds for spice mixes and other areas of dishes.

Fresh grated cheese for finishing and rind for deeper flavouring.

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The rind of Parmesan is just like the core of the block, except dried out due to exposure to air. It should have more flavor in it than an equivalent mass/weight of Parmesan, since the flavor will be concentrated.

I've only used it in soups a few times. From what I recall, it does add some melty strands of Parmesan into the soup that can make it more cloudy. I personally don't recall much, if any, thickening.

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The amount of stuff that ends up in your soup depends on how close to the rind you grated/cut; if you went far enough, there won't really be much there that'll melt. –  Jefromi Feb 3 '12 at 1:56
    
This is true, and there's always a balance to be struck in how close you want to get to the rind. I typically try not to grate too close to the rind since that means stiffer cheese gratings with a less chewy mouthfeel. –  Eric Hu Feb 3 '12 at 9:44
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