How to Thicken Cream Soup

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A thick creamy soup can be a meal in itself as long as it has the right texture.
A thick creamy soup can be a meal in itself as long as it has the right texture. (Image: Butternut soup, sunflower seed and rolls image by Elzbieta Sekowska from Fotolia.com)

A thin, runny soup is neither appetizing nor satisfying when served as a main meal. Thick soups with body and substance have a more pleasing texture and leave the eater feeling “fed.” Cream soups, by nature, are usually thick due to the presence of dairy cream. However, if the cream becomes overpowered by milk, broth or water in the recipe, the soup will become too thin. To correct a thin cream soup, either increase the cream ratio or add a homemade thickening agent.

Things You'll Need

  • Cream
  • Egg yolks
  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Bulk ingredients
  • Tapioca
  • Breadcrumbs

Mix in a flour paste. Flour is used in many commercially-packed soups to thicken creamy or thin broth soups. However, sprinkling flour directly into the soup will create undesirable flour clumps. To mix flour into the soup without clumping, stir together a flour paste with water in a small bowl before adding. For every 1 cup of soup in the pot, mix together 1 1/2 tsp. flour and 3 tsp. water or milk. Mix the paste until it is smooth and stir it into the soup until it dissolves. For gluten-free cooking, use alternative flours, such as tapioca or rice flour.

Whisk egg yolks into the soup. Egg yolks are used for making custards and dessert creams thick and therefore can also work as a cream soup thickener. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks until thick and creamy. Add about 1/4 cup of the hot soup to the egg yolks and whisk quickly to prevent the eggs from cooking. Add the tempered eggs to the soup pot and whisk.

Add more cream or other dairy product. Cream in of itself is a thickening agent, so if your soup is a combination of cream and milk, add more cream. Other dairy products, such as evaporated milk or sour cream can also be added to increase the thickness. Note that adding additional products to the soup will slightly alter the flavor.

Stir in pureed or grated vegetables. If the soup is a cream of vegetable soup such as pumpkin, broccoli, carrot or mushroom bisque, add more pureed vegetables to increase bulk. Cook additional vegetables and puree in a blender before adding to the soup. If your cream soup has “chunk” items, add more items to increase bulk. Beans, whole vegetables, grated potatoes and chunks of meat all add bulk to the soup, which will thicken it.

Add cornstarch or tapioca. Similar to the flour paste, a paste made from cornstarch can also be added to the soup. Mix one part cornstarch with two parts water before adding to the soup. Once added, do not bring the soup to a boil or the thickening effect of cornstarch will be lost. Tapioca pearls can also be added to increase thickness, though the pearls will stay intact, “floating” in the soup.

Sprinkle in breadcrumbs. Small breadcrumbs will dissolve in hot soup and add an invisible thickener. Large breadcrumbs will soften and add bulk. Breadcrumbs should be dried before using and processed in a blender or food processor.

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