So you’ve made a bland soup – I’m guessing you’ve improvised or badly attempted that recipe from the back of your mind. Not all is lost and hopefully we can resurrect it. If your soup is bland and tasteless, what can you do to fix it?
Try removing the excess broth and blending the soup to help concentrate it while adding richness from cream, yogurt, cheese, or other pantry ingredients like Worcester sauce. Fresh herbs or a can of tomato can help rejuvenate a vegetable soup.
I have a whole list of ingredients that you can add which I’ve outlined later in this article. I suggest going through the list and seeing what is the best match for your ingredients. You can always remove a small ladle of soup and test it if you are unsure.
Let’s look at why your soup is bland and what fixes we can do, let’s go!
Why Is Your Soup Bland?
Throwing all the ingredients into the pot and wishing for the best isn’t the best way to go about making soup.
Bland soup usually comes from not browning the ingredients first for flavor, diluting the liquid too much, or simply using poor quality stock and ingredients or ones that don’t complement each other.
Sautéing your base stock vegetables like onions, celery, carrots, and garlic is a great way to build a depth of flavor from the start, which then releases their flavorsome goodness into the soup once it simmers. Check out my post on the order to put vegetables in your soup.
Adding too much water can create a bland soup if the broth is not allowed to evaporate. The more the liquid evaporates, the more concentrated the soup becomes. That’s when the flavors will start to come through, and the rich deep aromas are palatable.
Simmering on low heat is the best way to gently infuse your broth with the great taste of the ingredients in your soup. Simmering soup too long won’t go down well either as the vegetables can overcook. Like in all cooking, a great flavor takes time, so simmer down and enjoy the results.
If your soup is already thick, keeping a lid on it will stop evaporation and reduction of the liquid. It’s important so that the bottom doesn’t burn. If your soup needs “loosening” then try a splash of water and a stir.
How To Fix Your Bland Soup
There are a few ingredients you can add or techniques to try. Sometimes all you need is a dash of sauce to give it a richer taste, a sprinkle of fresh herbs to add aromatics to the soup, and maybe even a spurt of lemon to brighten up your flavors.
Whatever you need, there is always a rescue remedy that you can try.
Tips To Liven Up Bland Soups
Try some of these steps with a ladle full of soup to get the mix right before throwing ingredients into the whole pot. Adding the simplest of ingredients can dramatically perk up your food.
Blend It Up
To turn a bland, watery soup into something much more rich and substantial try these steps. Remove most of the broth to leave the cooked ingredients. Blend these until smooth and pour back into a pan over heat. Add any of the following ingredients to add richness – cream, butter, parmesan cheese, or greek yogurt. Loosen with any of the original broth and season.
Check Your Salt
While salt won’t save a badly executed soup, a lack of it will make any food taste bland. Be careful when adding salt as it can ruin your food. Try adding a sprinkle and tasting as you go – it will enhance any flavors currently in the soup.
Heavy cream, sour cream, or greek yogurt will add richness and flavor to most soups as well as thicken them.
If you’ve made a bland vegetable soup like minestrone, then one way to give an extra kick to those bland veggies is by adding grated or shredded cheese. Adds this to the top of the soup when it is served in bowls.
Umami is a way to describe a savory, usually salty taste that is found in several storecupboard ingredients. Examples of umami flavors are parmesan rinds, roasted onions, soy sauce, mushrooms, and seaweed.
Adding a few drops of fish sauce can add a rich meaty flavor to your Asian-style soup with very little need for other ingredients. It smells bad but tastes really good!
It is similar to fish sauce and adds umami flavor to your soup because of the anchovies and other strong ingredients in the sauce. It doesn’t taste like anchovies, but it packs some rich flavors into any vegetable soup.
I know pesto is best served with pasta, but trust me when I say this little sauce of crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil will kick any bland soup to the next level. A spoonful in a bowl of soup works wonders.
Fresh Herbs And Spices
Using dried herbs is a great way of adding flavor to soups, but if you miss the mark and your soup falls flat, fresh herbs are the day’s heroes. It is best to use fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process anyway, as they add depth and complex flavors to your soup. So this is a great option to spruce up your bland soup.
Reduce The Soup
You may have a large water-to-ingredient ratio. Sometimes your soup is bland because it hasn’t evaporated enough. Allowing your soup to simmer longer can bring the flavor through at the end with a more concentrated taste. Simmer with the lid off but watch out for overcooking certain ingredients – see my post on how long to simmer soup.
Making Garlic Paste
Another great way to add great flavor to a bland soup is to make a garlic paste. Not store-bought, but homemade crushed garlic and salt paste that you can add to your soup. Along with the simmering of this in your soup, your soup will evaporate slightly, and the flavors will burst through.
Better Recipes For Next Time
Now that you know where your soup took a wrong turn and how to fix it let’s see how we can make it better next time. Here are 3 key steps in making great soup every time:
- Saute Your Aromatics First
- Brown Your Meat
- Use Rich (Homemade) Stock
- Follow a good recipe!
Here are some recipes that you might enjoy with great ideas on boosting flavors.
1. Chicken Noodle Soup, searing the chicken in the same pot you are adding your base flavored veggies to is a great way to add that meaty flavor to your soup. Cooking everything in the same pot means holding onto all those delicious flavors.
2. Over the rainbow minestrone, this delicious recipe uses a slow cooker to make a mouthwatering soup mix. Slow cookers are a great way to force all the aromatic flavors back into the soup as you have to keep the lid on, allowing all your veggies to simmer in their own juices.
3. Quick Cream of Mushroom Soup this recipe uses the sauté method for your main ingredient, adding new dimension and depth to your soup by locking your flavors in and enriching your soap base flavors.
4. Roasted tomato soup, this little pearl is a perfect example of how taking the extra time to roast your main veggie ingredient can uplift the flavors of your soup and give you that irresistible flavor punch you want from your soup.
5. Pistou Soup is not just great for pasta, but pesto can kick your soup into overdrive by adding some acid to bring out the flavors and giving you that umami flavor with the parmesan cheese.
Hopefully, you now know how to fix your bland soup. I think everyone has made a disappointing, bland dish at some point!
You can easily rectify it with some easy tips and still serve a top-notch bowl of chowder. Remembering what went wrong can help you the next time you make the concoction again.
My go-to is usually adding some pantry ingredients and cheese or blending it up for a thicker soup.