How to Fix Soup That’s Too Salty

published Apr 21, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Nothing beats a bowl of soup — no matter the season. Winter calls for hearty beef stew, while in spring and summer I lean toward more veggie-friendly options like gazpacho. When applied properly, salt helps foods taste like the best version of themselves, bringing out sweetness, tempering bitterness, and amplifying aromas. But if your first slurp of soup tastes strongly of salt, do not despair. There are several ways to save a pot of soup that has been oversalted. 

Credit: Faith Durand

The Difference Between Table and Kosher Salt

Salt is in practically every ingredient list, no matter how simple the recipe. Its ubiquity may lead you to underestimate the differences between brands and styles of salt. First, kosher salt and table salt are not created equal. Table salt is made of fine grains of consistently sized cube-shaped salt. Because of its small size and consistent shape, table salt packs densely into measuring spoons, resulting in more salt when measured by volume.

Kosher salt is a coarse-textured salt that chefs prefer because it is easier to pinch and season by hand. Diamond Crystal and Morton’s are two brands of kosher salt that you’re likely to find in your grocery store. Most of Kitchn’s editors and chefs prefer the lightness and flakiness of Diamond Crystal’s salt, while Morton’s salt is more dense and can result in a saltier flavor. 

Why Is My Soup Oversalted?

Oversalting soups often occurs for many reasons, including these common ones. 

  1. Incorrect type of salt used. Even if you follow the recipe instructions accurately, using table salt where kosher salt is called for results in oversalting. 
  2. Not tasting as you cook. A dish, like soup, changes as ingredients are added and the soup simmers. This is why you may notice recipes call for salting at various points in the recipe rather than in a single step. It’s best to season your soup gradually, tasting and adjusting along the way.
  3. Too much liquid evaporation. Maybe you’ve seasoned your soup properly, but it isn’t time for supper quite yet. You leave the soup on the back burner at a bare simmer to keep warm. Upon your return the liquid level is lower and the salty flavor intensified. 
  4. Adding hidden salts. Spice mixes, boxed broth, condensed soups, cheeses, and shortcut ingredients (like tortellini or rotisserie chicken) all contain different levels of sodium. Check labels for salt levels and taste the soup once these ingredients have been added before adding more salt. 

How to Fix a Soup That’s Too Salty

  • Dilute with water or broth. Adding more liquid to the soup will dilute the salinity and make the salt level more palatable. Remember that many boxed broths contain salt as well, so use one that is low-sodium or unsalted to remedy an oversalted pot of soup.
  • Add dairy. A drizzle of heavy cream, yogurt, or sour cream depending on the recipe can disguise the salty flavor with the richness of added dairy fat. 
  • Up the acidity. Samin Nosrat taught us all about the basic elements of cooking in her book, Salt Fat Acid Heat. In it, she notes that sometimes foods only appear oversalted when all they really need is a squeeze of lemon or a dash of vinegar. 
Credit: Kelli Foster

Will Adding a Potato Save an Oversalted Soup?

You may have heard the common culinary fable that adding a peeled potato can soak up excess salt. We tested this tip and were underwhelmed by the results. The potato soaked up some of the liquid (and thus, some of the salt), but it did not single out the salt on its own. That said, it’s best to use the methods mentioned above instead.