How to Thicken Soup

When you want to thicken a soup, there are many possible methods of doing so. It depends both on what you want from the soup and what flavors you'd like to come across. This article provides a number of options to try.


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    Use a roux (the most common method). Melt butter in a pan, add flour while whisking until the mixture forms a paste and the flour is cooked. This paste is called a roux. Then whisk in 2% milk until you have a thick sauce (about the consistency of pancake batter). This is called a Bechamel sauce. Add to the soup.
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    Use uncooked wheat flour. Make a sauce from 1/2 tsp melted butter or olive oil mixed with 1 1/2 tsp flour for every cup of soup. Pour the soup over the mixture and stir constantly until the soup thickens. This method requires at least another quarter of an hour to cook in order to remove the flavour of "uncooked flour". This is the same as thickening with a roux, except that the flour is cooked in the soup, and not before adding.
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    Use grated raw potato. There's a lot of starch in potatoes, and this will help create a thicker consistency. This is best added to a soup immediately upon grating. Cook for another 5–10 minutes to ensure that it is cooked and to produce a thickened consistency.
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    Add yogurt or cream. This requires a lot of care and tending; reheat gently and stir constantly until the soup thickens. Evaporated milk can be used in place of cream. The resulting soup texture will be lovely and rich.
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    Try white rice or pasta. Adding these to the soup about 10–12 minutes before the soup is due to be served will make a soup considerably more substantial. The addition of rice is especially enjoyable with pumpkin or squash soups; blend if wished to maintain a smooth consistency.
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    Make a corn, rice, or potato paste. Mix cornflour, rice flour, or potato flour with water until you have formed a thick paste. Whisk this into the soup until the soup thickens. You can also use wine, stock, or other liquid in place of the water for making the paste.
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    Beat an egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cream for every cup of soup. Add a little of the hot soup to the beaten mixture before adding it all into the soup pot. This is called "tempering" - it heats the eggs a little before you drop them into scalding liquid (which risks creating "egg drop soup"). Keep it at a simmer - it must not be boiled or the egg will solidify.
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    Use cornstarch. This method will thicken the soup without as much additional cook-time as the flour method. Put about a tablespoon of starch in a container and add just enough cold water to make a thick slurry or paste. Whisk this into the soup and bring to a boil. It is important to add water to the starch and not starch to water (as this will cause it to be lumpy), and to use cold water (adding hot water will cook the starch before it is mixed in to the soup).
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    Add beans. Use a can of beans with a mild flavour (but not kidney beans, as they are overpowering). White beans are best. Drain and rinse the beans, then blend with a cup of the soup broth in a blender or food processor. Add the puree to the remainder of the soup, simmering over low heat until it thickens.
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    Add pureed vegetables. The best way to do this is to remove vegetables from the soup and puree them, then return them to the soup to thicken.
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    Try breadcrumbs or crumbled tortilla chips. Either white or brown bread is fine, provided it is dried. Process the crumbs in your processor, then add to the soup. Drop in a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached. The soup will thicken with cooking.
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    Try instant potato flakes. In a pinch, use instant potato flakes to achieve the required consistency for your soup, tasting as you go.


  • Leftover mashed potato makes an excellent soup thickener.
  • Don't boil cornstarch as it breaks down (unless you have first mixed it with cold water to form a slurry/paste)
  • Be sure to taste as you go, making sure the thickening agent is not producing off flavors. You'll have to adjust seasonings, too, such as adding a little more salt and/or pepper, a little more garlic.
  • If you realize you're getting too thick, don't panic - just add some stock or broth a little at a time, and whisk gently as you do it, until the soup returns to the proper consistency.
  • Tapioca flour is also useful for thickening soups. It is possible to use whole tapioca but you will either need to accept eating the tapioca or fish it out of the soup once thickened (not an easy task).


  • Any of these methods, if used too liberally, can create an unpleasant "gluey" consistency, or a mealy / grainy mouth-feel. Best to be more sparing and take more time, tasting along the way.

Things You'll Need

  • Soup
  • Mixing implements
  • Chosen thickening ingredients

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