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I made a creamy chicken and wild rice soup for the first time following a recipe I found online. However, now that it's finished, I think it needs more flavor. The only seasonings I used was a the package of seasoning included in the Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice box. What's the best way to add spices to it now that it's finished, and what are some good spices to add to this soup (Ingredients thus far are: Chicken, long grain and wild rice, carrots, celery, onions, chicken broth, heavy cream). Thanks!

Thanks for the extra questions. Here's the recipe I used: http://www.food.com/recipe/copy-cat-panera-cream-of-chicken-and-wild-rice-soup-438883

As for what's in the seasoning mix. It was the pre-package of seasoning in Uncle Ben's Long and Wild Rice Box. Per the box, the seasoning blend contains a mixture of the following: Hydrolyzed corn/soy/wheat protein; dried onion; dried parsley; sugar; autolyzed yeast extract; dried spinach; garlic powder; salt; spices; torula yeast; celery; onion powder; hydrolyzed yeast protein; nautral smoke flavor; natural flavors; dried tomato; dried carrot; extractives of paprika

closed as primarily opinion-based by logophobe, rumtscho Feb 26 '15 at 21:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Can you post the full recipe along with a link to the recipe online? – Catija Feb 26 '15 at 17:30
  • Especially what is in the incuded seasoning mix? We would want to enhance, not contradict the flavours;-) – Stephie Feb 26 '15 at 17:35
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    Did you use the same amount of heavy cream like it said in the recipe for light cream? 3 cups? If yes, we might have found the culprit... – Stephie Feb 26 '15 at 17:55
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    Ah... tasty hydrolyzed wheat protein - just like mom used to make. – rfusca Feb 26 '15 at 18:24
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    The rice package contained enough seasoning for just the rice, and then you added a bunch of unseasoned ingredients to that. It's typically best to season every layer of your dish, so you definitely need to add more salt and spices. – smcg Feb 26 '15 at 19:40
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This may not be your issue, but the number one problem that cooks have is in the area of salt. Soup needs a lot of salt unfortunately or it tastes bleh and insipid.

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    Yup. Especially if using a lot of cream. – Stephie Feb 26 '15 at 18:30
  • Yah, it looks like most of the salt would be coming from the chicken broth, and if that's a low-sodium or no-salt added stock there would be very little in the soup. – Ross Ridge Feb 26 '15 at 18:50
  • This is the chef's note on the recipe: I tried a similar soup at a restaurant and decided to recreate it at home. I use low sodium chicken broth and skim milk. I don't add additional salt, so you might want to taste and add it as necessary to meet your preferences. If you use plain wild rice (the box usually comes with seasonings), you'll probably need to add some additional seasonings. I also like to use leftover wild rice in here and adjust the other proportions according to the amount I have on hand. I like food.com, and I use it a lot, but it's recipes by ordinary users and not chefs – Escoce Feb 26 '15 at 18:54
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    On that note...I am one of those people who avoid salt, I didn't even own a salt shaker until I had guests that wanted/needed salt. My girlfriend now demands salt. She thinks things need salt when I think they are perfect, so...it's all personal taste. – Escoce Feb 26 '15 at 18:55
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    This need more attention. Adding enough salt is literally 80%, if not more, of cooking. – MikeTheLiar Feb 26 '15 at 19:39
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Are you cooking the celery, carrots and onions before you add them to the soup?

As @Stephie says, you've got a classic mirepoix in those ingredients. I like to chop them pretty finely (though a food processor gives results that are much too fine, like a paste; don't use one for this) and cook them together in a tablespoon of olive oil until the onions are soft, translucent and golden. Throw a couple cloves of garlic or a shallot in there, too.

My other suggestions are a little sprig of fresh dill or chopping up one of the entire tops of the frilly leaves of the top of a carrot, if you have carrots that come with leaves.

Also, if you ever buy hard cheese, use the uneaten rinds as an ingredient. The rinds of Parmesan work well. Grocery stores that sell fancy hard cheeses in plastic-wrapped blocks can also sell you rinds if you ask at the cheese section. Like a bay leaf, rinds are meant to be removed before you serve the soup. This can increase the perceived saltiness, so adjust your salt, but it adds many earthy and wonderful flavors that are softened by cream.

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Powdered soup mix can be a little light on flavors. Fortunately, a few common spices make for great additives to your soup. Here's a few things you can try.

  • Bay Leaf: A tried and true flavor additive to any soup. Add one or two for a little extra flavor.
  • Bullion Cube: Sometimes the broth doesn't have quite enough flavor, and adding a proper bullion cube (in this case, Chicken) can liven it up a bit. Take care, as bullion cubes are high in sodium. Don't add more than one.
  • Salt As Escroce said, some soups just need a little extra salt to bring out the flavor. Don't overdo it, for the same reason you don't want to overdo the bullion cubes.

Another option is to just add more of what the spice pack supposedly has already. Out of the listed ingredients, you could add more: dried parsley; sugar; garlic powder; salt; onion powder; paprika

Out of those options, I'd recommend adding additional parsley, garlic powder, salt, onion powder or paprika to keep the original flavor, though only in small amounts so as not to let any one flavor overpower another.


Final suggestion: Since these are seasonings, you should add them a little bit at a time after the soup is done cooking, mixing it in and taking a small taste to see how it affects the flavor. You'll eventually find the flavor you're looking for.

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I'm going out on a limb here and assume that using heavy cream might have dulled the percieved intensity of the flavours.

So to add more "omph" you should add more of what is already in there. As the soup is done, you can't use anything that requires a long cooking time because you'd be turning everythinhg to mush.

Granted, you could cut more vegies, sauté them separately and add to the soup, but that would be probably too much effort. The veggies in this recipe are a classic mirepoix or, in other words, the flavour base for a soup. In a pinch, I'd add either (part of) a stock cube and/or a bit of extra salt and a generous dash of pepper.

If this still needs more "herby" accents, try adding what is in the seasoning mix, but stay clear from all herbs in your cupboard that are to large or woody, because they would need a while to soften. Powdered or fresh is your friend here: I'd try

  • some powdered allspice and a quick grating of nutmeg, black pepper and a pea-sized blob or two of yeast extract (stir well), if at hand.
  • a pinch of oregano, and a very small pinch of basil and perhaps a dusting of dried rosemary or
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp of paprika, a hint of chili and perhaps some cumin or
  • fresh parsley or fresh chives, or some chilantro, but I know that that's either love or hate for most.
  • If you happen to have fresh lovage, that would be my first choice: chop finely, add a teaspoon or so for a really intense "soupy" flavour. Cook for another minute or two to mellow the flavour, serve.
  • Stephie, Thanks so much for your advice and the quick responses! I'll post a follow up to let you know which I try and how it turns out! – Bertie Feb 26 '15 at 18:32

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