Ways to Add Flavor to Homemade Vegetable Soup

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Homemade soups can be as complicated as minestrone or as simple as French onion, which depends on only one vegetable. The broth may be meat-based, such as chicken stock, or strictly vegetarian. Occasionally, a vegetable soup requires a little flavor boost after you've made it.

Bouquet Garni

  • If your soup is not quite as flavorful as you would like, bundle herbs in a cheesecloth bag and let them simmer in the soup for 15 minutes. Fish the cheesecloth bag out and serve the soup. Alternatively, tie a bouquet of herbs by their stems and simmer them. The herbs don't have to cook through because you're removing them before serving. Try a sprig of rosemary, tarragon and chervil for chicken soup.

Hot Spices

  • Enrich the flavor of the soup by increasing the level of spiciness. This works well with tomato-based soups or soups of Italian and Mexican nature. Add dried whole chilies, and fish them out after cooking the soup for 20 minutes. Add dried chili flakes. Dice a jalapeno, which is moderately hot, or cut habanero -- which is extremely hot -- in half and add both halves to the soup. Let the soup simmer for 10 to 15 minutes then remove the habanero before serving the soup.

Stock Reduction

  • Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat so that the broth continues to boil vigorously but not a rolling boil -- one that can't be stirred down. The evaporation of water from the soup will concentrate the flavor of the soup. As a bonus, your soup will have a higher ratio of vegetables to broth.

Meat and Poultry

  • Unless you're making vegetarian vegetable soup, meat or poultry adds flavor. Brown 1/2-inch chunks of beef, bacon, pork or poultry in a saute pan with 1 tbsp. of butter. When the meat is browned, remove it and save it for another use. Add additional diced carrots, onions and celery -- also known as the trinity of vegetables in some cuisines -- to the pan. Cook until the vegetables are softened, then add all of it to the soup. Take a cup or so of broth from the soup and deglaze the saute pan. Add the broth back to the soup.

Oven-Roasted Vegetables

  • Roasting vegetables concentrates their flavors. As they caramelize in the roasting pan, they'll color the vegetable broth a deeper, richer brown. Put sliced onions, carrots and turnips in a roasting pan. Drizzle 1 tbsp. of cooking oil over them and toss them. Place them in a 425-Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes until the vegetables are a rich brown. Remove, dice and add them to the soup.

References

  • "Splendid Soups"; James Peterson; 1991
  • "The Good Housekeeping Cookbook"; Zoe Coulson; 1963
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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