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Professional Tricks for Super Soup

Besides understanding the basic skills required for concocting a great pot of soup, it helps to know a few tricks of the soup-making insiders — the things that professional chefs do to make their soups really special:

  • Always add fresh herbs to soups or sauces at the last minute before serving. That way, the herbs remain vibrant and alive with flavor. If you use dried herbs, add them earlier in the cooking process, to help release their flavors.

  • Don’t boil soups containing milk or cream unless the recipe calls for it. Cream soups burn easily, which ruins the taste. Typically, milk or cream is stirred in toward the end of cooking and gently warmed.

  • If you goofed with the salt, don’t dump the soup. If the soup tastes too salty, the simple solution is to add water. If you don’t want to add water and thin the soup, try adding paper-thin slices of potato. Cook them until translucent — they tend to soak up salt like little sponges. Leave them in the soup if you like, or fish them out with a fork and discard them. Tomatoes, either fresh or canned (but unsalted!), do the same thing.

  • If your soup is bland, consider a few high-flavor additions. You can use a teaspoon of salt, cumin, or chili powder; some freshly ground black pepper; some chopped jalapeño peppers or mild green chiles; or some fresh or dried herbs, such as rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, or thyme. You also can add a little lemon juice or dry sherry.

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