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How To Thicken Soups and Sauces Naturally
How to Thicken Soups and Sauces
Cooking and wanting to have things turn out perfectly is just natural. It can really be upsetting, however, when you are 'cooking right along' let's say making your soup or sauce and you find that it is not thick enough!
Here are some great tips on how to thicken those soups, stews, chowders, and sauces and a great way to apply culinary basics to making healthy and delicious recipes!
GREAT WAYS TO THICKEN SOUPS AND SAUCES
- Add flour - I take a few tablespoons of flour and mix in a tiny bowl with some of the broth. Make sure all the lumps are out and then whisk back into the main pot. Mix the flour and a bit of broth separately will make sure you avoid clumps
- Add cornstarch - Same exact procedure as above
- Arrowroot works the same as cornstarch or flour
- Another great addition is tapioca flour as it will act as a thickener also
Photo Credit: WikiCommons Antoinel
- Make a Beurre Manie - which is quite simply the opposite of a roux. You use a roux to make a thickener at the beginning for soup or stew (mixing equal parts butter or oil and flour and stirring to combine, then diluting with stock, broth, or milk). For the Beurre Manie, you knead together equal parts of butter and flour, then add to the soup or sauce. In so doing, it will not clump - it also gives a wonderfully shiny appearance to a sauce!
- Add cream - Just a few tablespoons or up to cups if you desire. It will increase the smoothness of the soup or sauce and will make it richer. The lower the percent of the milk or cream, the less creamy the sauce or soup will be when adding it
- Adding silken tofu will also thicken a soup - and add nutrition as well
- Ground nuts make a great thickener and add flavor - It also yields a lighter result than cream
- Add yogurt - If at all possible, I use Greek yogurt because it is so good for you. You can even add some cream cheeses and sour cream, but be careful to try a bit in a separate bowl. Greek yogurt does not separate in cooking with hot liquids. Cream cheeses and sour cream can sometimes separate so best to try a bit first before adding it in - or to be safe only use Greek yogurt for thickening!
- Puree a few slices of stale or fresh bread or rolls in a processor or blender - Add to the soup or sauce and it will act as a thickener. It also imparts a unique flavor to the soup or sauce depending on the kind of bread
- Remove a few cups of your sauce or stew and puree it in a blender or food processor. Then add it back in and it will naturally thicken the sauce or soup
- Puree leftover or fresh sweet potato - if appropriate for the flavor of the sauce, it will thicken it. It is delicious in soups or stews
- Pureed or mashed squash such as acorn or butternut has the same effect
- Mash or puree leftover potatoes and add to the soup or sauce as a thickening agent. Again, in the case of a sauce, make sure it is a good combination for the particular sauce that you are making
- Pureed pumpkin or yam will also work - Just be aware that they have different flavors and if the flavor is compatible, it's delicious!
- I have pureed carrots and parsnips as well but with the parsnips it needs to be a parsnip-compatible soup or stew as it is quite flavorful, too
- I've also added canned corn to a chowder that has gone goofy by not thickening up - Decide if it is compatible with a soup or stew. If it's a chowder, it's usually a perfect addition
- Grate raw potatoes into soups to thicken - then reheat a few minutes and it will be thickened - see video!
- I also add cheese to a sauce that does not seem to want to thicken up. I start out very small and only add a wee bit to see if that helps correct the sauce. I have added in some Parmesan before and had great results. I've also added white cheddar or Monterey Jack and had great results. With cheese, a little will usually go a long, long way so be aware of the thickening and don't overcook. I have also used cheese to keep a sauce from separating! It has the effect of glue!
Summing Up How to Thicken Soups and Sauces
There is no need to worry if you need to thicken a soup or a sauce. Now you will have the culinary basics in terms of remedies at your disposal!
I always try to stay positive no matter what I cook. If things don't go just right, there usually is a way to fix it, to improvise and if all else fails, just start over!
As you can see though, there are many 'natural' remedies for thickening a sauce or soup. They only need be appropriate for the recipe you are preparing.
Hopefully these remedies will come to your aid should the need arise for helping along a soup, stew, chowder, or sauce. Happy thickening!