make a better soup; be a better person

I tell people I have soup anxiety.

I may have touched on this before. It is ridiculous. You don’t have to tell me that.

It’s mostly the lack of substance. The brothy-ness and the fear of being hungry while our dinner companions talk for three more hours about their 8th grade tirades and how ‘nerdy’ we all used to be. (Trust me, if you’re playing soccer in 8th grade, you’re probably NOT a nerd — or at least in my view of the word.)

But I really like soup! I do, I do. I promise. It’s just not the first thing that comes to mind when I think, “Oh, dinner…”

Understanding soup basics was huge in my learning how to cook better. Usually in culinary school they start you at stocks, soups and sauces. Since I haven’t attended culinary school, nor will I ever, I did like most self-taught cooks do — I jumped in it.

I mean I got all up in that sauce talk.

I learned about stock and bones and fat.

I’m not gonna talk like I’m some pro at making soups. But I’ve made some good soups, just like you folks. (Or who at least claim to make the best chicken soup.) I’ve also talked about making different stocks as well. If you’re interested, just hit up that search engine. The world is full of people who can tell you how to make soup. I’m not different. I just thought I could bring a little humor to the conversation.


First of all, eat roast chickens. Why? For the bones!
Wrap them up tight, and stick em’ in your freezer. Collect about 4-5 carcasses before you want to make a big batch. Your ratio of bones to veggies is so much more than you probably think. Probably equal to the amount of all the veggies, you should have bones, plus more. If they are raw carcasses (sometimes you can buy them like that), roast them in the oven till nice and brown, and then cover them with COLD water. Add your carrots, onions and celery. Maybe a few peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme and garlic. Oh yes, garlic. So good for you and your brothy-obsessed bodily functions.

Do the same with beef bones, if you have em’. But you probably don’t.

If you really want to impress someone with a killer chicken soup, make a double stock. This is when you use an already existing chicken flavored broth and add more bones to it. I mean, decadence.

Huge flavor. That’s what you really want, right? For example, if you’re making a chicken soup, boil your raw chicken in some water. After your chicken is done, throw in your bones and vegetables and crank down on that stock. And then, strain all that stuff out and continue to reduce your liquid. It’ll keep getting better, and better.

This will elevate your soup to another level. And at the risk of sounding even a little close to Guy Fieri, I’m gonna back off. Because that dude is an introverts nightmare.

I love soup that has something extra in it. Meaning, things besides vegetables. For chicken soup, we generally add rice or else ten minutes later, I’m eyeing that bag of Pirate’s Booty white cheddar corn puffs that sit not so far away from my subconscious and comfy brown chair.

Add lentils! Add beans! Add greens! Throw some chopped up kale in there during the last 15 minutes or so of cooking.

Add proper salt. Every time you make bland soup, some one else decides to make a Harlem Shake video. And we don’t want any more.

If your soup turns out to be too rich, add a few dashes of vinegar — either sherry or red wine or something of the like. I usually always add a hit or two of some kind of vinegar. Adds nice balance. And folks, it’s all about balance.

Then there are the flavor and umami boosting agents. Tomato paste, fish and/or mushroom sauce, and worcestershire. At least those are the most common you might have back behind your Sriracha sauce that you might, but shouldn’t, put on everything.

But hey, who am I to judge you and your need to make everything taste spicy.

So there.

Just a few options.

Maybe it was helpful. I know it’s helped me.

And remember: soup du jour

it’s the soup of the day

83 responses to “make a better soup; be a better person”

  1. “Add proper salt. Every time you make bland soup, some one else decides to make a Harlem Shake video. And we don’t want any more.”
    Now I NEVER salt my food, let alone my soup : but for the good of humanity, I will ! 🙂

  2. No more Harlem shake videos!!

    Thanks for this great post! I LOVE making my own chicken stock. And I always steal the turkey carcass at Thanksgiving. Turkey stock is my favorite, I think.

  3. From soup addict to another, texture does go a longway in adding another dimension to the soup. Like noodles/rice, some crunchy bits or grated cheese.. etc
    Great tips. Thanks.

  4. I just did a deep clean of my freezer – I found FOUR chicken carcasses and made chicken noodle soup over the weekend – I am a soup whore too!

  5. I believe it’s du jour, like the boy band from the Josie and the Pussycats movie.

    Apologies for the francophone grammar pedantry.

    Soup is the shizz, but it’s better when it comes with big lumps of food in it (I like your style, especially with the beans). Also, pho is fantastic and ramen and basically anythihng involving noodles, even if there’s no soup.

  6. Just stopped by to say I like your work — the writing, anyway, I’m not in position to like your cooking (I live in Pennsylvania). I, too, am a “food junkie” having spent 30 years “in the trenches” of foodservice. . .loved every minute of it! I love the aroma of a finely seasoned chicken roasting (you can almost taste the aroma), knowing in a day or two those smells will return while I make soup — chicken noodle, rice, lentil, vegetable, curry, whatever. . .Thanks for posting and keep up the good work, in the kitchen and on the blog. . .

  7. Great post chef. I was considering doing a post on soups/braising/stewing and your article provided some much needed motivation. Cheers, you have a new follower.

  8. Will attempt double brothing… an excellent idea. This whole thing is fun. And now I’ll miss my slow cooker window reading the rest of your blog.

  9. After buying a rotisserie chicken pick the meat off and put the bones in a crockpot with some onion, carrots and spices, cook over night on low. Strain. Add veggies to strained broth and cook or put in muffin pans and freeze. Then you have a great bouillon that you can use for anything.

  10. Great to see Writing-about-soup being given the accolades it so richly deserves :). I blogged about making chicken stock a while back. For a wet subject, it was pretty dry. You were able to make simmering bones sound much more interesting.

  11. Sounds like an excellent bowl of soup! I love soups. I even love just good broth with some mushrooms and green onions and some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Could drink it all day. 🙂

  12. I’ve been making my own soup for about a year now and enjoy the process and the results. I’ve never thought of reducing the stock, tho, OR of adding stock instead of water to new batches. That just might change my life and the lives of those who eat my soup. Thanks for the excellent post!

  13. Your talk about using soup as an excuse for having chicken in the first place resonates in our household. A recipe for spicy Thai roast chicken at the blog Homemade With Mess ( has become a favorite here, especially when we’re anticipating another blizzard or snowy day. The added payoff comes when my wife bones the leftovers and uses them for pho, that incredible Vietnamese soup that’s really an entire meal in a bowl.
    Oh, and I can point you to an incredible roadside stand in Bellows Falls, Vermont, that can underscore your argument in favor of great soups.
    Pour it on!

  14. MMMM…it’s been raining today and they are predicting rain for tomorrow too. The gloomy weather and your post is making me crave proper soup with homemade stock. You can’t beat that!

  15. I can understand soup anxiety. It’s one of those things in which a mistake means an end product that is pretty much inedible in some aspect, like risotto. You’ve got a lot of good tips here. I’ve never taken on soup, but my dad makes soup all of the time, and I am always mystified as to how he gets the flavor just right. Homemade soup is a million times better then Campells from the can though.

    I laughed at the bit about Guy Fieri. He is a little scary…

  16. Soup is just about one of the finest things to have happened to liquids. Will try a double stock asap- beggining with the immediate consumption of a few chickens.

  17. I have never successfully made soup. I have tried. Once I cooked some chicken neck and back bones. This, however, was an accident. I served them as dinner to my husband, who kindly let me know these were mainly used for soup stock. I was so upset by the whole experience I quickly dumped everything in the trash and ordered pizza. I’ll probably need to read this entry about soup a couple more times before I attempt soup again. Thanks for sharing for those of us who have never been to culinary school and would never be allowed.

  18. If for nothing else, I love this post for “Add proper salt. Every time you make bland soup, some one else decides to make a Harlem Shake video. And we don’t want any more.” Keep it up!

  19. Reblogged this on femforchangenow and commented:
    “Add proper salt. Every time you make bland soup, some one else decides to make a Harlem Shake video. And we don’t want any more.” Great. And he’s totally right about making good stock. It is the key to good soup.

  20. Thanks for sharing these tips! I didn’t know anything about a ratio between the bones and veggies. I always just threw in a couple carrots and celery stalks, along with some other seasonings and called it good.

  21. Hah! Just this very morning I had was asking myself how this kept happening. “Every time you make bland soup, some one else decides to make a Harlem Shake video.” To flavorful soup -clink-

  22. Soup is like a big warm hug on a cold day. Love it. I can seriously eat Pho 7 days a week, the cravings run through my Vietnamese blood. My cells are half hoisin, half Sriracha. :p

  23. “Because that dude is an introverts nightmare.” LOL.

    Nothing is better than a good bowl of soup. My taste buds grew up with weird Chinese herbal brews, but a good chicken soup is a good chicken soup across any culture.

    Thank you for this post!

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