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I was following this recipe for minestrone soup. This recipe includes a red tomato base, as well as some green vegetables.

I like to blend my soups up after to make them smoother. However, when I do this I end up with an unappealing brown colour to my soup, since the green veggies and red from the tomato combine to be brown (at least this is what I assume is the reason).

I've seen this with other soups I've made before; anytime I have tomato + greens in a soup it happens.

How do I improve the colour of the soup to make it more appealing? Or am I overthinking this?

(I know brown soup exists and can be appealing (e.g. Windsor soup), but in this case when I blend it the colour just comes out like a mossy brown colour that looks kinda gross).

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    At the risk of sounding trite, the answer is to not make minestrone soup. The whole point of minestrone is the bursts of flavour and colour you get from the vegetables. By putting everything in a blender you are making something other than minestrone. – miken32 Apr 22 at 15:46
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    @miken32 I used minestrone as a (clearly bad), example. I happen to make a lot of vegetable soups and tomato+greens happens to be a favourite of mine. This happens a lot for me (hence the question). – stanri Apr 22 at 17:00
  • Can I assume you don't want Answers such as "try adding food coloring"? – trlkly Apr 22 at 19:25
  • @trlkly: What color would you add? I had the idea of adding red beet juice. – Michael Apr 23 at 7:04
  • @trlkly I wouldn't mind, I would be interested to know if it is a common practise. Michael's idea of beet juice is definitely one to try. – stanri Apr 23 at 8:25
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Of course “appealing” is quite opinion-based, so let’s look at the problem in a slightly more neutral “how can I avoid the colors mixing when I blend the soup”.

In short, you can’t.
If you have a significant amount of green and red veggies, that is.

One of the appeals and key features of a classic minestrone are the colorful ingredients that give you a bright and versatile palette, almost a mosaic in a bowl. But let’s not argue with the question’s premise.

If you want to blend the whole soup, you need to stay in a limited range of the color wheel, which means for your soup everything that’s between red (as dictated by the tomato base) and yellow will be fine, as is white or translucent. Stay away from green. Blueish ingredients are quite rare and not part of a minestrone, so we can ignore that. In your example recipe, the spinach is out.

Alternatively you can blend everything except “the green”. That means you need to either fish out all the green vegetables or cook them separately. That said, the spinach in your recipe will cook so quickly that you could even add it after the blending step. And of course you still get chunks in the purée.

If your desire to blend is not motivated by the desire for a chunk-free result but about thickening the soup, you could use alternative ways to thicken the soup. An easy way would be to scoop out a few of the starchy ingredients (e.g. the potatoes), mash them up and put them back. Or introduce an additional thickener, e.g. a starch slurry.

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    Thanks! I actually really like the idea of leaving the greens out until post-blending, and then adding them in. Spinach cooks quickly and is added toward the end anyway, and isn't that chunky. I think that red soup + pops of green colour can look quite interesting. – stanri Apr 22 at 14:49
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    This is one of those things that is "opinion based" but actually not really, there are deep physiological roots for our food preferences, color in particular. Food advertising is well aware of this. I mean I'm sure there will be some people who claim to like rotting garbage, but there are clear reasons for why people avoid it. – eps Apr 22 at 20:14
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    Just to follow up on the range of the color wheel that can be mixed: Don't blend complementary colors like red-green, blue-orange, or violet-yellow. The result always looks brownish. But they do look particularly nice and colorful together if kept separate. – henning Apr 23 at 8:24
  • I'm not a tomato person, but I wonder if making the base with green tomatoes would work as well. – user3067860 Apr 23 at 14:37
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The Turquoise Room (at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona) has a "signature soup", which is actually two soups ladled into a single bowl: a bright yellow corn soup, and a darker brown bean soup.

signature soup

While I kind of feel like this defeats the purpose of a minestrone (which, as far as I am concerned, is meant to show off the lovely vegetables), I wonder if a similar strategy might work here? Split the recipe into two soups: one which contains the red ingredients, and one with the green ingredients. Blend the soups separately, and them ladle them side-by-side into a shallow bowl to serve.

My guess is that you will need to reduce the amount of liquid in the soup to make this work—the goal is to end up with products at the end which are thick enough to remain separate after being served. The starch in the potatoes should also help (e.g. make sure that you are using potatoes in your recipe).

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    if you mix both soups, it'll still turn brown – Max Apr 22 at 10:00
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    @Max Yes, but the point is that you don't mix them. You serve them separately (in the same bowl). There is no obligation to mix them (except right at the boundary). – Xander Henderson Apr 22 at 12:18
  • If you end up trying this, I would be exceedingly interested to see the images added to the answer. It sounds very cool. – Adam Barnes Apr 24 at 5:32
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I sometimes use a sweet, mild paprika to redden tomato-based soups which have turned out too brown. It doesn't go with every flavour, of course, but it works very well to liven up the appearance.

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A couple suggestions:

Blend only part of the soup: When you're done cooking it, remove half of the soup from the pot and blend it, then combine the blended portion with the unblended. The texture will be smoother than it would have been, but you'll still have recognizable whole pieces of veg and greens (which you should have in a minestrone).

Cover it up with toppings. Fresh green herbs like parsley add color without changing the flavor too much. Green pesto. Croutons, while they're still probably a shade of brown, will at least break up the visual of an expanse of brown soup. Thinly sliced cherry tomatoes, pomegranate arils, toasted tortilla strips, avocado chunks, diced red onion or cabbage, brightly-colored pickles, oil infused with turmeric or paprika, all make great soup toppings depending on the soup you're making.

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  • Would blending part of the soup not still give the OP murky soup, just with different chunks in it? – Stephie Apr 23 at 13:16
  • @Stephie According to the question, OP is currently (for whatever reason) making a completely smooth blended soup from a recipe that calls for zero blending. Blending part of the soup is a compromise between the two. The blended portion will still be "murky", but the unblended portion will provide some visual and textural contrast. – Dan C Apr 23 at 13:29
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You didnt said what is used in those soups.

Anyway, does the tomato base need to be cooked so long ? maybe you could cook the hard to cook veggies(like beet ,potatoes, carrots) on water first and only add the tomato in the end, that way the tomato will be fresher, more red, and more healthy too.

If you are using broccoli, leafes, greens vegetables and thats turning brown too you could try to add sodium bicarbonate in the water that cooks it. it helps to keep the green color. people use it for that and works well. I, particularly, dont like to add unnecessary chemicals to my foods. I prefer to time the cooking of the the veggies just in time to cook and avoid leaving too much longer for not overly cook the foods that would make colors fade, vitamins to decrease and cause the veggies to became too humid(in that thing, for being a soup, if you wait too long to eat it will be very humid/soft/"watery" anyway).

And just to resume and clarify, i see most answers are agreeing in your teory of the green veggies be the ones turning your soup brown but it is not the case. when you use green veggies in a white soup it doesnt turn green, because most of then do not color the food like that, like a beet or the tomato itself. what turn tomato bases brown is overcooking or the tomatoes being too old

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    This does not actually answer the question. The soup doesn't turn brown from the green vegetables cooking, it turns brown when the soup is pureed and the red and green mix. – user141592 Apr 24 at 9:05
  • No, this is actually a good answer. — Sodium hydrogen carbonate is hardly an “unnecessary chemical”, any more than ordinary salt is; perfectly sensible to use it for buffering down acidity when that's a problem. (In the case of this soup, the tomatoes would be the main source of acid.) – leftaroundabout Apr 24 at 11:11
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    Did you miss that the OP is blending the soup? There are not pieces of vegetable going brown within the soup, the whole soup is pureed, and the mixture of a red puree and a green puree is an ugly brown. – rumtscho Apr 24 at 11:24
  • @rumtscho . oh "to blend" that she says is to put in the "blender / mixer" literally. only now i noticed (English not my 1st langue). i was not considering that, maybe thats why people are negativating – bigubr Apr 26 at 8:13
  • @leftaroundabout. i hardly never use salt too. but thats interesting i will read more about that and maybe become less reluctant in using chemicals. – bigubr Apr 26 at 8:23

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