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I looove soups, but I mainly eat vegetables and I do not use any store-bought spice mixes or "stocks". I also do not eat dairy for other reasons. And I also do not fry things.

I remember my grandma making nice, thick soups, ones that are not so watery... But I really don't know how to make them! My soups are either watery or they're overcooked.

So what is the key to making a soup that is thick and isn't overcooked? Or is there no key, it just depends? If that is so, then I want to know what it depends on. :-)

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  • 1
    Re. your grandma: it’s not unlikely that she cooked the vegetables longer than you do, or at least some of them.
    – Stephie
    Feb 10, 2018 at 14:11
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    All the micronutrients leave in the steam?
    – paparazzo
    Feb 10, 2018 at 15:50
  • 3
    You could probably just remove the nutritional claims here and just say that you prefer not to overcook the vegetables. That'd sidestep discussion about what you do and don't lose with cooking and let you focus on the soup. Is that okay?
    – Cascabel
    Feb 10, 2018 at 16:00
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    @Jack Not buying and not going to argue with you
    – paparazzo
    Feb 23, 2018 at 11:35
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    @Jack I am not just sharing a belief. I have a degree in chemical engineering. Still not going to argue with you.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 24, 2018 at 9:20

6 Answers 6

11

Make your favorite vegetable soup. Remove 1/4 and puree in blender. Return to the rest of the soup. If it is not yet think enough, increase the amount you remove and puree until you find the consistency you are looking for. If you don't have a blender, you can use an immersion "stick" blender, or even a hand cranked food mill. Alternately, if you have none of these devices, simply put the veg. in a bowl and mash with a potato masher.

5
  • Is there a way to do that without a blender? I don't have one and I'm not planning to spend extra money on one... Also my grandma never used a blender because we never had one, so there must be some other way to do that?
    – Jack
    Feb 10, 2018 at 13:28
  • @Jack, I edited my answer for you.
    – moscafj
    Feb 10, 2018 at 14:05
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    @Jack : For stews, once I get the vegetables cooked to the level that I want, I'll take a potato, and shread it on a grater straight into the pot. It's so thin that in 2-3 minutes of cooking (near a boil), it'll turn into really running mashed potatoes, significantly thickening the sauce. It's possible that this might work with other starchy vegetables. No blender required
    – Joe
    Feb 15, 2018 at 1:28
  • @moscafj Thanks, that actually works somewhat. :-) That's what I've been doing for past 2 days without reading this, hah. I had some computer problems and could not get to it...
    – Jack
    Feb 23, 2018 at 7:33
  • @Joe That's also a great idea, it's the same idea as using starch from a pack except much more creative. I'll definitely try that next time I make soup!
    – Jack
    Feb 23, 2018 at 7:33
9

Almost all of the thick soups I make contain pulses. I use a variety of dried pulses, but generally no more than two types in one soup.

Try experimenting with split peas which come in yellow or green, dried green peas or varieties of lentils.

Other thickening ingredients include potatoes, sweet potatoes, chestnuts and pearl barley.

Pulses, depending on variety, can take a while to collapse, so if you want a thick soup without the rest of your veg being overcooked consider only adding onions at the start and add the other veg as the soup base gets thicker.

1
  • Thank you, that actually makes sense. I think there was always some type of pulses in the soup, now that I think of it. Or sometimes maybe I didn't notice it because it was cooked up in a separate batch or something like that.
    – Jack
    Feb 23, 2018 at 7:32
4

Thickness in soups generally comes from reducing the liquid, starch in the broth, pureed components, and very importantly gelatin or collagen. Soups that use rich animal based stocks have a thickness or richness that is not easily duplicated.

Another option, besides those stated is to reduce your broth by straining it when the other components are close to desired doneness. You can then firmly boil the broth to concentrate the flavors and thicken. You can then add the other ingredients back in and adjust seasoning and herbs, etc...

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  • +1 ... for mentioning collagen. I'm surprised so many others were focused on starches. (a lot of vegetable soups start with a stock made from animal bones or trimmings)
    – Joe
    Feb 15, 2018 at 1:21
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    @Joe Right. We had to change soup protocol a few years back at a restaurant I worked in to 'no hidden meat' specifically b/c many folks assumed a soup with a vegetable name was vegetarian. Anyway, to me that is #1 in getting thickness in soups and sauces. Feb 15, 2018 at 2:05
  • Do you think collagen bought in a bag work instead of boiled down bones?
    – Jack
    Feb 23, 2018 at 7:30
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    @Jack Sure. Collagen is collagen. Like corn starch or powdered 'gelatin' these will all work. The bone simmering is just traditional, but shelf stable collagen will work. Feb 23, 2018 at 9:45
  • @MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Well, the problem is that I cannot get decent type of bones here and that cooking for a long time is not possible due to the type of stove I have... I know that collagen is really healthy though, so I am trying to find cheap substitutes, and if I cannot do that, then I just skip it entirely. :-)
    – Jack
    Feb 23, 2018 at 10:06
3

To thicken a broth based soup (chunky, not pureed) even if it has potatoes/or other starchy vegetables in it, I will dissolve a big spoon of corn starch in cold water and mix it into the soup. Thinkens, and is controllable - too much cornstarch add more water, not thick enough after a couple minutes add more cornstarch. Just make sure you stir it in well, something it gets clumpy (the cornstarch).

Otherwise, try making a roux ( https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-make-roux-995452 ) or add flour (1-2tbsp) to your sauteed vegetables (usually onions, celery or leeks,carrots, et al) prior to adding water or stock. The flour will act similar to a roux without requiring all that butter or actually making a roux.

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    Once you have mixed the starch and cold water, you can add a ladle of the soup to the glass and stir. This makes it easier to distribute evenly.
    – noumenal
    Feb 13, 2018 at 19:16
  • Yes! Tempering. Makes sense!
    – soup4life
    Feb 14, 2018 at 16:53
1

When I want chicken soup that’s rich and creamy, I temper one or two egg yolks with a little of the hot broth, then stir it into the soup. It gently thickens the soup and gives it a velvety texture that is superior to roux-based cream soups. You didn’t say if you egg issues, though...

-1

Okra added, chicken feet & heads added, or shark fin. Will thicken soup. More American. Corn starch or flour. European. Crushed lentils or peas.

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    Good ideas, but using complete sentences and giving explanation will improve the perception(and votes) of your answer. Feb 13, 2018 at 21:15
  • Well, it gave me an idea of American and European ways. Though I'm curious what's the first category? Asian?
    – Jack
    Feb 23, 2018 at 7:32
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    @Jack Okra= Cajun/Creole in USA, Chicken feet is old school worldwide, particularly asian. Shark fin = hard asian. Feb 23, 2018 at 9:47

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