How to thicken soup (2024)

Sometimes a finished recipe for soup doesn’t have the texture you think it will. If it tastes perfect at the end of the cooking time but it’s a little thin, there are several fixes you can try.

If your soup doesn’t taste strong enough, the first thing you should do is boil it to drive off some of the water. This will strengthen the flavour and thicken the soup. Depending on what kind of soup you've made, these are six of the easiest ways to make it thicker.

For more inspiration, see our list of the most popular soup recipes and also read our guide on how to thicken stew.

6 ways to thicken soup:

1. Blend all or part of it

If you’ve made a broth with chunks of vegetable in it, such as minestrone soup, then pour the soup through a sieve. Take a third of the whole ingredients and blend them with the broth, then stir the rest of the whole ingredients back in. You can also do this with a potato masher by mashing directly into the pan until the soup is as thick as you want.

This works best with soups with starchy ingredients such as potatoes, beans, rice or even pasta. You can blend soups with meat in them, such as this lamb & barley soup in the same way, but make sure there are no bones and use a powerful blender to break the fibres up.

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For product advice, see our reviews of the best blenders and best soup makers on the market.

2. Add cream or yogurt

Adding extra cream can thicken a creamy or blended soup like this wild mushroom-soup, but stirring in a spoonful of thick yogurt can be more effective. Be careful not to boil the soup once you've added the cream or yogurt or it may split.

How to thicken soup (1)

3. Add flour or cornflour

You can also use flour or cornflour to thicken a soup. Put a tablespoon of either into a small bowl and stir in 2-3 tbsp of the soup until you have a smooth mixture. Stir this back into the soup and bring it to a simmer. Cook for a few minutes to allow the starch granules to burst to thicken, and to cook out any flour flavour.

4. Use a butter and flour paste

You can also use a flour and butter paste called a beurre manié to thicken a soup. Just mix 2 tsp flour with 2 tsp soft butter, and while the soup is simmering, stir the paste into the pan. The butter will help disperse the flour throughout the liquid.

5. Blend in bread

Torn pieces of bread can be blended into soup to thicken it. Use a milder flavoured bread so as not to change the flavour of the soup, or use a sourdough if you want to add a stronger flavour. Soak the pieces of bread first to soften them and make the blending easier. Bread would add body to a fresh tasting tomato soup without changing the flavour.

6. Add lentils or rice

Blended lentils and rice can also add body to a soup. Red lentils work in tomato soups such as this recipe, and rice can be used in green soups or where a vegetable like cauliflower has been used. Cook them until they're tender, then blend them into the soup.

How to thicken soup (2)

Which technique works best for you? Let us know in the comments below.


5 of the best soup recipes to try next:

Spiced carrot & lentil soup
Chicken noodle soup
Butternut squash soup with chilli
Hearty pasta soup
Leek, bacon & potato soup

How to thicken soup (2024)


How to thicken soup? ›

Soup Thickening Method: Cornstarch Slurry

About this method: One of the most common ways to thicken sauces and soups is with a starch-based slurry, and cornstarch is a popular choice. Cornstarch is flavorless, easy to mix up, and versatile, which makes it a go-to pantry ingredient.

What is the best thickening agent for soup? ›

Soup Thickening Method: Cornstarch Slurry

About this method: One of the most common ways to thicken sauces and soups is with a starch-based slurry, and cornstarch is a popular choice. Cornstarch is flavorless, easy to mix up, and versatile, which makes it a go-to pantry ingredient.

What is the healthiest thickening agent? ›

Easy-to-access alternatives are wheat flour, arrowroot flour, and rice flour. These are good alternatives to cornstarch because they are more nutritious and contain fewer carbohydrates and calories. Xanthan and guar gum are much stronger thickeners than cornstarch, but they can be harder to obtain and use.

How do you thicken the liquid of soup by boiling it? ›

Answer. Answer: In cooking, reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by simmering or boiling. Broths are also simmered rather than boiled, and for the same reasons.

What is the secret ingredient to thicken soup? ›

Add Flour Or Cornstarch

You can thicken soup by adding flour, cornstarch, or another starchy substitute.

What is the strongest thickener? ›

Potato starch is the most potent of the bunch, with long starch molecules that quickly tangle with each other and thicken a liquid.

Is cornstarch or flour better for thickening soup? ›

It's important to note that cornstarch has twice the thickening power of flour. If you need to substitute cornstarch to thicken liquid in a recipe that calls for ¼ cup (four tablespoons) flour, you only need two tablespoons cornstarch.

What is the best food thickener for the elderly? ›

You don't need to use commercial thickeners for foods, since soup and other foods can be easily thickened with powdered potatoes (used for instant mashed potatoes), rice cereal, tapioca, or Jell-O, for example.

What is the most used thickening agent? ›

Cornstarch is the most common thickening agent used in the industry. It is mixed with water or juice and boiled to make fillings and to give a glossy semi-clear finish to products. Commercial cornstarch is made by soaking maize in water containing sulphur dioxide.

What is a natural food thickener? ›

Arrowroot: This natural food thickener is a great substitute for cornstarch or flour. Mix arrowroot with cold water and add it to your recipe towards the end of the cooking process. Arrowroot can also be used as a gluten-free option for those with dietary restrictions.

How do you make a homemade thickening agent? ›

To thicken gravy with cornstarch and get smooth results, mix the cornstarch with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to make a liquid-like paste or slurry. Another method is to strain the dry cornstarch through a fine-mesh sieve, although using this method to thicken gravy may result in a more lumpy gravy.

What thickens better than cornstarch? ›

Here are five of the best cornstarch substitutes for all your thickening needs.
  • All-Purpose Flour. Yep, that's right — all-purpose flour is a very stable thickener. ...
  • Arrowroot Powder. ...
  • Potato Starch. ...
  • Rice Flour. ...
  • Tapioca Starch.
Jun 23, 2023

What is a natural liquid thickener? ›

If liquids are too thin, add one of the following common thickeners to get your liquid nectar-thick. Banana flakes. Cooked cereals (like cream of wheat or cream of rice) Cornstarch. Custard mix.

How do you make soup more watery? ›

Ok, this may be a little obvious, but just adding water is going to make your soup go a little further. If you stick to a 50/50 ratio between water and whatever flavoured liquid you're using in your soup (be it tomatoes, a stock type, or a cream), you're unlikely to dilute it to the point of making it unpalatable.

Does soup thicken as it cools? ›

Does soup thicken as it cools? Soup that contains some amount of starch, whether it be potatoes, rice, pasta, or an added thickener like cornstarch or flour will definitely thicken once it cools.

Can you thicken soup without cornstarch? ›

How to Thicken Soup with Rice, Bread, Potatoes or Beans. Foods like rice, bread, potatoes and beans are naturally high in starches, which, when broken down, act as a thickening agent. With rice, the grains will break down into the soup as it's simmered and stirred, releasing the starches and thickening the soup.

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