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I have a double boiler that looks like this:

enter image description here

I have been trying to use it to warm soup, but the soup heats up very slowly.

Currently, I have just an inch or two of water in the bottom, so the porcelain part is not actually touching very much of the water. Most of the heating seems to be by steam. Should I fill up the bottom part more so that the porcelain has water all around it?

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    Why are you using this method for soup? Most soups are robust enough for direct heating. – Catija Feb 7 '17 at 4:21
  • @Catija I was just doing it experimentally because I had never used a double boiler before. However, I did notice that the soup did not form a skin, so that might be one reason. – Drisheen Colcannon Feb 7 '17 at 21:45
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What you do depends on what you are doing.

There are sauces where the directions specifically call for "over boiling water" (as opposed to "in boiling water") which imply a gap. Heating soup is probably somewhat less demanding in requiring gentle heating, though a ceramic inner pot will slow that down anyway.

However, the first thing to try would be just to turn up the heat a bit - steam is a very effective heat transfer mechanism, so if you have a good boil in the lower pot you should get effective heating of the upper one, even with a gap. If the lower pot is only simmering you will get poor/slow heating of the upper one.

If the lower pot is too full you may get boiling water spurting out between the pots, which might be hazardous.

| improve this answer | |
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    Your comment about water spurting out between the pots is of great importance - great thought. – dougal 5.0.0 Feb 7 '17 at 5:42

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