Since it's Soup Week it seems like an appropriate time for a confession. I Sarah Trover am not a huge fan of soup. I'd much prefer a hearty bowl of stew or chowder, something with a little body, instead of a thin broth-based meal. That isn't to say that thin or creamy soups aren't tasty, but when given the choice, I'll go for thick over clear and thin every time. Because of that, potato starch is my go-to thickener and — dare I say — my soup BFF.
Why potato starch in comparison to other thickeners? I'll give you three reasons, and let's see if we can make a convert out of you too!
1. No Aftertaste: When mixed in to thicken a mixture you don't get that chalky, gritty, pasty aftertaste that you do with so many other thickeners. Always a bonus to know you can add a little extra and not alter the taste of your dish!
2. Inexpensive: Potato starch is no more expensive than cornstarch and although it can be found in the vegan/gluten free section at the health food store, if you head to an Asian market instead, you'll find large bags for less than $1!
3. Procrastinators Best Friend: Although many thicker stews and sauces start out with a roux base, potato starch can be added at the end of your cooking time instead of the beginning. In fact it does better that way and won't over-thicken. Because of this, you can make things a day or two in advance, or even freeze them without getting mealy. Once thawed, heat and then add your starch to thicken to your liking without your dish tasting like a science project.
Potato starch is a great add-in to have on hand and can really save the day when it comes to thicker stews, sauces and meals that need a little body to them. Although I still have other thickeners in my kitchen, I only use them when a recipe specifically calls for them. I always use potato starch as my main soup and stew thickener.
(Image: Bob's Red Mill)