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Soup's On: Tips by the bowl

There might be nothing better than a warm bowl of soup when the weather turns chilly. While making soup can be as easy as grabbing a can opener and then heating it up, homemade soups not only can warm you up, they can also provide for several meals.

Here are a few tips, according to, that can help you improve the taste, texture or complexity of your flavors.

1. Brown or sear the meat: If you are adding meat to a soup, sear or brown it in a sauté pan before you add it to the soup. This adds a deeper savory flavor to the whole soup. This trick is especially useful for things like chicken and sausage, which can sometimes get bland and rubbery while floating in a brothy soup.

2. Roast the veggies: Try roasting your vegetables before adding them to the soup. This gives them a little bit of char and concentrates their flavor, giving the soup a more complex taste.

3. Mix up the texture: Mash or puree some vegetables in your soup to give it a creamy texture while still having some chunky bits or puree the whole thing for a silky-smooth experience.

4. Use homemade stock whenever possible: It’s possible to develop flavors as you go with just water and whatever ingredients you are using, but if you have it handy, use homemade stock. This gives you a jump on the flavor-building process.

5. Put your cheese rinds to work: When you’re down to the last nub of that block of Parmesan, Pecorino or other hard cheese, freeze it and toss a rind or two in the pot next time you’re making soup. The will soften and add extra nutty flavor to the recipe. Remove from the soup before serving.

6. Perk up a bland soup with simple pantry staples: Add a splash of vinegar (any kind), or a squeeze of citrus. Also adding salt perks up flat flavors and helps balance out bitter-tasting ingredients.

7. Add fresh herbs or dairy when serving: Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and cilantro lose their flavor quickly if simmered in a hot soup, but they add freshness and bright flavor when sprinkled over top just before serving. A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt can add a bit of tang to cool off a spicy soup or balance the sweetness in soups made with a lot of root vegetables.