Is there anything cozier than curling up on the couch with a warm bowl of soup? Didn’t think so. As the temperature begins to drop, you may find yourself craving more of this nourishing comfort food. Instead of stocking up on bland canned versions from the grocery store, why not make a batch (or two) at home?
To help you make the tastiest homemade soup this season, we tapped chefs, nutritionists, and other food experts for some tips. From adding in unexpected ingredients, such as a parmesan rind, to making sure you have the right kitchen appliances on hand, read ahead for easy expert-approved ways you can help elevate your soup this fall. Plus, don’t miss 16 Quick & Healthy Soup Recipes That Could Help You Lose Weight.
Chef Mareya Ibrahim shares that the best soup comes from stock, and there’s truly nothing better than making, and storing, your own. “I pour chicken, veggie and beef stock into an old-school ice cube tray and freeze them,” says Ibrahim. “Then when I need the stock, I pop out the number of cubes I need and they’re perfectly portioned—versus pouring it into a big container and having to thaw everything out or waste bags.”
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Make your life easier, and soup taste better, with a stick blender that especially comes in handy when making pureed soups and broths. “A stick blender is an absolute necessity for purees, so you can do everything in one pan and not have to transfer hot soup to a blender, which can be quite dangerous,” Ibrahim says.
Yankel Polak, Head Chef at ButcherBox, recommends to never boil your soup during the cooking process. “Never more than a gentle simmer,” Polak advises, “This allows you to create a clear broth, while keeping some texture in the vegetables.”
The way you store soup is just as important as the way you prepare it—this is why you should leave your soup uncovered until it’s cooled. “Trapping the hot steam can lead to bacteria growth,” Polak shares, “I always chill my soup in an ice bath if I am in a hurry, or just open at room temperature for 30 mins before refrigerating.”
Help inject some depth into your soups by adding in canned beans with liquid. “Canned beans, with their liquid, add body and viscosity to a soup broth,” says Lisa Lotts, recipe developer, food writer, and owner and publisher of Garlic and Zest. “Don’t drain beans before adding them,” she advises.
Lotts recommends incorporating hefty greens to brothy soup recipes for an extra nutritional boost. “Avoid spinach as it wilts too quickly,” she says, “Kale and escarole are the best choices as they stay bright and add a toothsome chew.”
If you are looking to add a bit of an umami kick to your soup, Lotts suggests placing a parmesan rind into the broth as it simmers. “It flavors the soup adding a salty, umami bite without overpowering,” Lotts shares. Make sure to remove the parmesan rind before serving.
The next time you make homemade soup and feel like something is “missing”, add in a touch of citrus or vinegar to it to elevate its taste. “We often forget or omit acidic additions in soup recipes, but the brightness makes a world of difference,” shares Chef Ellie Golemb of Culinarie Kit. “A nice hit of citrus, vinegar, or wine will act as both a magnifier and a unifier for all your flavors.” Golemb recommends adding a squeeze of lemon to lentil soup, a bit of lime to tortilla soup, and a drop (or two) of balsamic vinegar to French onion soup to help brighten.
“The timing is important, too,” says Golemb, “Stir in an acidic ingredient a tiny bit at a time towards the end of cooking your soup, then allow it to simmer off for a few minutes before tasting and adjusting.”
Husband and wife chefs, Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi, of Shalom Japan in Brooklyn have a tip that will help elevate any soup: add in a square of kombu. The kombu will help bring out the umami flavors while also providing a bit of body and textural mouthfeel to any soup. They recommend adding in a two-inch square for every quart of broth.
Although it’s tempting to want to finish as quickly as possible, it’s important to take your time when cooking homemade soup. Mark Ian, Chef at Mealfan, points out that soups are best when cooked for extended periods at a low temperature. “Slow cooking at a low temperature allows the food’s flavors to mix thoroughly, giving it an even better taste,” Ian says.
Make the most out of leftover soup by storing it smartly. “To extend the freshness of your soup leftovers, fill the container three-quarters of the way,” Ian says. “It will allow air to flow and prevent the growth of mold.”
Boosting immunity is important—especially during soup season when colds and flus are seemingly everywhere. You can easily do this by adding mushrooms into your soup recipes. “Mushrooms contain beta-D-glucan, a compound that boosts IgA levels,” explains Gigi Carter, food blogger, licensed nutritionist, and co-founder of Healthy for My Purpose Academy. “IgA is an antibody—in our nose, mouth, and throat—that helps fight off illnesses,” Carter adds.
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