Try This Pantry Staple to Thicken Your Soup

(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

Put away the cream, skip the hassle of making a slurry, and leave the stick blender where it is — there’s an easier way to thicken your soup, and the answer is right inside your pantry.

Even though I can (and do) eat it year-round, I crave soup on a daily basis during the cold winter months — especially homemade soups that are thick, hearty, and nourishing. Some soups, like purées and cream soups, naturally cook up thick and rich, but others need a little help getting that satisfying consistency.

There are a number of ways to get there, but one I often rely on can be found in my pantry on any given day. I’m talking about grains and rice. You probably already eat them as a side dish, or use them as a base for your grain bowl, but grains and rice are also useful when it comes to thickening soup.

Pick the Right Grain

Some grains work better than others for this task. The best choices to get the job done are ones with a higher starch content, like barley, cornmeal, white and brown rice, amaranth, kamut, teff, and even oats. They can be used whole (especially good for cornmeal and barley) or pulsed in a spice grinder first (especially useful for oats).

You can cook the grains separately and toss them into the soup. Alhough, to really get the most starch out of them (not to mention less dishes to wash), add them uncooked straight into the soup. You may need to add a little extra stock or lengthen the cook time, but you’ll get a thicker and heartier soup for it.

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