Most soups begin with a simple base of ingredients that provide a ideal starting ground to work with. Typically a base of carrots, celery onion and potatoes is used. Then you can begin adding into the soup any additional vegetables, seasonings or sauces for tweaking.
Vegetable soup often begins and ends with simple but bland ingredients that require lots of salt to enhance. So here are some unique ideas and techniques to really soup up your next vegetable soup.
1. Saute The Vegetables First
Heat some olive oil in the bottom or your cooking pot or a separate pan and then add in your vegetables. Let them cook long enough (3 – 5 minutes) until they become softer and then continue boiling them for the soup. You can add in any additional seasonings at this point.
2. Use Different Types of Potatoes
Typically golden or russet potatoes are used in vegetable soup. But you can also try using red potatoes or sweet. Sweet especially goes good when making a more acid based soup using balsamic vinegar for example.
3. Add Toppings for Texture and Extra Flavor
Crunchy toppings such as seasoned croutons or crackers help add in more texture. You can also garnish with jalapeno slices, green onions, toasted nuts (crushed almonds or walnuts) or seeds (pumpkin, hemp, squash).
4. Use Acidic Ingredients
Use a bit of lime juice or a balsamic vinegar to make it a more acid based soup. Be sure to have a good balance between acidity and sweetness in your soup.
5. Make It Chunky
Take a otherwise watery or thin soup and make it chunky by adding in lentils or beans. This is a great way to bulk up your soup while adding additional flavor. Be sure to chop up your vegetables more into bite size pieces if you plan to make it chunky.
6. Try Unique Seasonings
Consider seasoning with curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon (Moroccan vegetable soup with sweet potatoes), cumin and ginger all are options to try. Bay leaves are a great way to season soups and add a subtle bitterness.
7. Sweat The Vegetables
Sweating your vegetables or base of your soup is a great technique to try for a different flavor. Unlike sauteing you aren’t browning the vegetables but instead your are just softening them up. The point is to release and infuse together the aromatics and flavors of the veggies. This is done the same way as sauteing but you are using less heat and you want to cover the pot with a lid to trap moisture. Add in salt to help draw out the moisture and extract even more flavor.
8. Make It Spicy
Add in a bit of hot sauce to your soup while its cooking. You can also try a chili pepper paste or cayenne powder. Taste test the soup as you add in these ingredients to avoid getting it too spicy.
9. Add Olive Oil To Soup Before Eating
Do this after you are done cooking the soup either in your bowl or in the pot. Extra virgin olive oil works great but you can use spiced or infused oil blends like this flavored olive oil variety pack on Amazon . Walnut and pumpkin seed oil as well as sesame oil (especially with Asian style vegetable soups). The fats from these oils add more flavor but they also help to preserve the overall flavor of your soup.
10. Add Dried Mushrooms
If you really want to get creative with your flavoring then add in a secret ingredient, dried mushrooms. We all have heard of using cream of mushroom for casseroles. But few people try using mushrooms especially dried ones in vegetable soup. You can add in a flavor that is similar to meat to your vegetable soup without adding in beef or chicken. Start with dried shiitakes as they are cheaper and are great for other dishes as well. Simply add in the dried mushroom directly into your soup.
I hope you enjoyed these 10 tips for enhancing your vegetable soup. I tried to find ones that were not obvious but also were simple enough for anyone to try.