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I made chicken soup tonight in my usual way - recipe is chicken flash fried, then onion, ginger, garlic added, then stock or water, then lid on and cook. Coriander added later.

Usually, I end up with a mostly clear soup, lots of floating bits of herbs, spices, meat etc, which are fine.

Tonight, the soup was completely cloudy. A dense yellow colour, which didn't settle after leaving it to cool for 40mins and then reheating it (which I thought may help it 'settle').

Why would this happen? It didn't seem to affect the flavour too much, although I noticed that it was a heavier soup than normal. Are there any immediate health or safety concerns associated with a cloudy soup?

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There seems to be a lot of confusion in this question between soup, broth, and stock. You make soup from either stock or broth. It's not entirely clear whether you actually made this soup from homemade stock, canned broth, water, or even bullion. It would help a lot if you clarified which you used. I'm also removing the health question as such a generally-phrased health question calls for substantial (off-topic) speculation; as a food safety question or a specific health-related question (i.e. "does cloudy mean higher fat content") it's fine. –  Aaronut Dec 7 '10 at 1:12
    
sorry. I used a small amount of pre-prepared chicken stock powder, added to hot water, stirred well then poured over the other ingredients. –  KimbaF Dec 7 '10 at 13:14

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

My guess would be that you boiled the soup at some point, possibly for an extended period of time.

If you bring it to a full boil the fat from the meat will emulsify and distribute itself through the liquid. This is the same stuff that foams to the top, the "scum" that a lot of recipes (usually ones that say bring to a boil, then simmer) tell you to skim off. I would venture to say that this distribution of the fat into the liquid is also why it tasted heavier.

When making stock or soups, the most I'll heat them is to just below boiling and keep them at that simmer for a little longer to make up for not bringing it to a boil. When making stock, I strain once through a chinois and again through a piece of cheesecloth in a chinois to help reduce the floating particulates, but this won't really solve the cloudiness problem (though it will help some).

You can also try putting it into the fridge overnight so that the fat comes to the top and solidifies, but I don't think this will solve the problem, only help reduce it.

If it's just the stock that's gone cloudy, this page has some suggestions on how to clarify it, but honestly unless you're presenting it to guests, I see no reason to even bother. I've made cloudy stock and clear stock before and except for a slight "heaviness" difference, the taste is generally about the same. The cloudy stock sometimes has a more oily mouth feel, but it's not a major difference - and I've found some people seem to prefer the soups or rices I make with a cloudy stock.

If you have a hard time controlling the temperature on your range-top, you can use an oven-safe stock pot and cook it in the oven at 180°F to keep it just below a boil.

One other trick, depending on what kind of soup you were making - if you were making (for example) chicken soup, consider trying to turn it into a cream of chicken soup to hide the cloudy broth :)

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Almost every method for clarifying broth will rob it of some flavor. Better to leave it cloudy, and cook it at a lower temp next time. –  Satanicpuppy Dec 7 '10 at 1:06
    
Perfect answer @stephennmcdonald –  BaffledCook Dec 7 '10 at 9:01
    
@GUI - thanks, I've spent a large part of the past 2 months making stock from the scraps in my freezer (over 15 quarts!), and then making various soups from it :) –  stephennmcdonald Dec 8 '10 at 14:18

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