Dull Soup? Fix It With Just One Ingredient

published Oct 24, 2011
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Have you ever made a soup that was well-salted and full of flavorful components, but tasted a little…flat? There’s an easy fix you might be overlooking.

Just add acid! A small amount of an acidic ingredient like lemon juice added at the end of cooking brightens flavors, especially in long-simmered bean soups or rich meat-based soups. Start with a little bit of acid, taste and adjust, until your soup tastes balanced and bright. It’s amazing how a dull soup can come to life with a bit of vinegar or lime juice.

Here are a few acidic ingredients you can use:

Lemon or lime juice: Start with a teaspoon or two and add more as desired.
Vinegar: Add half a teaspoon (or more) of your favorite vinegar.
Tomatoes: Fresh or canned tomatoes can be finely chopped and added as a garnish at the end of cooking, or left in chunks and cooked in the soup.
Pickles: It might sound strange, but one of my favorite ways to eat lentil soup is garnished with a big spoonful of sauerkraut. Or how about pickled red onions on a black bean soup?
Crème fraîche, yogurt or sour cream: A small dollop on a serving of soup looks pretty and adds a refreshing tang.

Do you usually add a bit of acid to your soups? Are there any soup-friendly acidic ingredients you would add to the list?

Related: Hearty, Earthy, and…Lemony? Lentil Soup from Orangette