I prepared a pumpkin soup with the secondary ingredients being onions, ginger, garlic, cream, chilli, nutmeg, pumpkin seed oil, and sage. I accidentally added too much of the latter. I wish to neutralise this.

I found and tried the following so far:

  • General counteracting advice like diluting and adding more of (almost) everything else, both of which I do not wish to do.

  • Physically removing the sage, which are not applicable in my case since the sage was ground.

  • Adding sugar (or sweet ingredients). I did this to some extent, but perceived no effect. While the sweetness hasn’t spoiled the soup yet, I am afraid that adding more of it might.

  • This site recommends to add potatoes, which are claimed to soak up excess spices (in general). I am skeptical about this claim since I cannot find any other source corroborating this. Said source uses a very distancing language in this section. Moreover, if potatoes really suck up flavours in general, they may be of little use for me due to sucking up everything else.

  • By chance, I found that adding salt (or salty ingredients) reduces the effect, but only to a certain extent. Also, this comes with the downside of the soup being overly salty.

Are there any other ways or reasons to assume that my assessment of the above options is too pessimistic?


1 Answer 1


You are not overly pessimistic, there is no such thing as you are trying to do. Smells are not counteractable.

The most you can do is to reduce the effect, and you have already come across the possible solutions and they don't work for you.

As we get this type of question all the time, I wrote up a much longer explanation which covers overseasoned food in general, not just soup with sage: I overseasoned my food, what can I do to remove the strong smell?. Please refer to that for a longer explanation of why you can't magically counteract smell.

  • Thank you for your answer, or in particular the linked post. Note that I am not sure whether my problem is with smell. When not put in the mouth, the soup does not emit a problematic smell. When in the mouth, the excess of sage can be sensed but I do not know which sense(s) are responsible for this. As the soup is gone now, I cannot put this to the test anymore.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 12:07
  • The sense responsible is the smell, yes. Flavor is made up of a combination of taste and smell. Taste covers only the five tastes (sour, salty...) plus the three sensations of burning (hot food: chilli, wasabi, etc.), astringent puckering (tannins, as in black tea) and cooling (from menthol and actual removal of energy). Everything else is aroma. And yes, it gets perceived differently from sniffing and from chewing, that's normal.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 13:56

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