What You Need to Know When Making Homemade Soup

Making homemade soup is so rewarding. It’s such a tasty, comforting treat and it’s a great way to use up whatever’s in the fridge. But every now and then you may run across some questions while making your soup. Here are answers to top questions I get when leading soup making workshops. Hope they’ll be of help to you.

soup collage

Also Read: Homemade Vegetable Soup Stock, How to Make Stock from Cooked ChickenHow to Make Stock from Raw Chicken

FAQs Re Making Homemade Soup

1.Should the lid be on or off when simmering soup?

  • Keep it on if you want to cook it just a little faster and added moisture from condensation is not an issue.
  • Keep it off to evaporate some liquid and make a thicker soup.
  • Keep it slightly askew for the best of both.

2.Why is my homemade soup stock jiggly?

  • When you make stock or broth with bones and connective tissue (joints, tendons, feet, etc.), collagen dissolves and turns into gelatin (the ingredient used in Jello). When it cools, it  thickens unless you have too much liquid in your stock.
  • Jiggly stock is considered a sign of high quality stock. Well done!
  • That jiggly gelatin adds flavour, texture and extra nutrients to your soup.
  • To get more gelatin, simmer (dont’ boil) for long time, add more connective tissue, cut bones and don’t add too much water to the pot (just covering).
  • The gel will melt into liquid once you heat it – don’t thin it with water before using.
jiggly soup stock
Hurray for jiggly stock! Don’t thin this out, it will turn liquid with a bit of heat.

3.How can I make my stock more flavorful?

  • Start with a good ratio of water. Use just enough water to cover stock ingredients by 1 inch. Too much water = lack of flavour.
  • Don’t skimp on bones, meat and aromatics (onions, herbs, garlic, etc.). If you don’t have enough, place everything in a freezer bag to save until you have more.
  • Chop bones open to release more flavor, nutrients and gelatin.
  • Roast bones to add flavor and deepen the color of stock.
  • Roast your veggies before adding to stock.
  • Use boney pieces of meat (wings, thighs, legs, backs, etc.) instead of or in addition to leftover cooked carcasses.
  • Add high umami flavoured food like mushrooms (especially roasted), Paremesan rind, soy sauce, fish sauce, seaweed, miso paste, etc.
  • Add a little acid (lemon slices, lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, wine, pickle brine, etc.) to perk up the flavours.
  • Let it simmer (not boil) longer to evaporate liquid and concentrate flavour.
list of what to add to stock

4.What’s the best way to puree soup?

  • A hand-held immersion blender works well. Blend a little longer than you think to get all the lumps!
  • For even smoother soup use a blender. But do so carefully! Hot steam builds up in the container and will explode out of the top. Follow the safety tips in the box.
soup in blender with safety tips
Don’t get burned by soup in the blender!

5.How can I fix burnt soup? (Impossible to fix, save what you can!)

  • Remove from heat immediately and DO NOT STIR!
  • Nothing can remove the burnt flavor. The only hope is to save any portion of soup that doesn’t taste burned, so do not stir the soup.
  • Ladle out the top portion of the soup into a new pot. Taste to ensure it does not taste burnt.

6.How can I thicken soup?

  • Add cream, evaporated milk or whole milk for added thickness and great taste. Low fat dairy products will curdle if boiled, only add at end and do not boil.
  • Puree some of the starchy vegetables (potatoes, carrots, squash, beans) in your soup and add them back in to thicken.
  • Use a slurry of cornstarch and water and gradually add to your soup.
  • Start with a roux (flour and water) when making your soup.
  • Let your soup simmer a little longer with the lid off to let liquid evaporate.
chicken corn chowder w
This Chicken Corn Chowder uses flour, evaporated milk and starchy potatoes as thickener. To make it even thicker, use a slurry of corn starch or mash some of those potatoes.

7.Should I cook noodles and rice separately?

  • For best flavour, cook them in the soup, especially if making a small batch or you don’t mind puffed rice.
  • For big batches, cook them separately. Rice and pasta will swell and become mushy if left in the soup for too long.
  • To prep large batches to last the week, cook and store separately, then combine when reheating.
  • For freezing soup, cook them separately. Rice and pasta do not freeze well in soups.
chicken noodle soup
For well defined noodles, cook them separately if you’re making a big batch to last the week.

8.How long can I keep soup in the fridge?

  • A good rule of thumb is 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze it.
  • Cool soup quickly (separate into shallow containers or use an ice bath) before storing in a sealed container in the fridge.
  • Never leave soup out for more than 2 hours.

9.Can I freeze soup?

  • Most soups freeze quite well for six months before quality deteriorates.
  • Cool quickly and completely before freezing.
  • Freeze in convenient sizes, either family size or individual portion sizes.
  • Always leave room for expansion in the container.
  • Label and date the soup so you know what you have and by when you should eat it.
  • Soups that do NOT freeze well due to texture concerns are:
    • Dairy/cream soups
    • Pasta soups
    • Soups with big chunks of potatoes (pureed potatoes are fine)
leek and potato soup
This pureed Leek and Potato Soup freezes beautifully, but chunks of potato in soup turn gritty when frozen.

10.Should I use dried or fresh herbs?

  • Use BOTH! A combination will give you the best flavor.
  • Use hardy dried herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, bay leaf early on to give them time to rehydrate and release their flavor.
  • Use fresh herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro and dill at the very end of the cooking process to add a bright fresh flavor and color.
beet and bean soup
In this Vegetarian Borscht, dried oregano and thyme are added early and fresh dill is added just before serving for best flavour and appearance.

11.How can I fix salty soup? (Difficult to fix but here are some last resort ideas).

  • Dilute it – add more low sodium stock, water or tomatoes.
  • Overpower it – add other ingredients to distract from the saltiness – vinegar, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, hot sauce, sugar, etc.
  • Remove it – add starchy ingredients like potatoes or bread that will soak up the liquid, then remove the starches and add non-salty liquid.
  • Rinse it – in extreme cases if you have a chunky broth soup, you can pour soup through a colander. Toss the liquid, rinse the chunks and use them with new broth or roux based sauce.
smooth bacon lentil soup
Pureed lentil soup with bacon.

Favourite Soup Recipes

Here are some of my favourite soup recipes for you to try

Kale, White Bean and Italian Sausage Soup

Thai Red Curry Soup

Mulligatawny – Curry Chicken & Apple Rice Soup
Chicken Stock – made with cooked chicken carcass
Chicken Broth – made from raw chicken pieces

Homemade Vegetable Soup Stock

Got a question that’s not listed above? Let me know in the comments below or touch base with me via Instagram at #getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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