An ultra-smooth pureed soup is dreamy, luxurious—and tricky to pull off. In homemade iterations of the dish, the lush texture of the puree is often marred by fibrous ingredients. There are a few ways of working around this issue—cooking the vegetable for a long time until it breaks down, straining the soup, or adding cream—but we discovered an even easier fix while developing our carrot ginger soup recipe: Baking soda.
Unassuming as it may be, this pantry ingredient is nothing short of a powerhouse when it comes to softening vegetables. Adding baking soda to a soup raises the pH and contributes sodium ions, both of which make the pectin that holds many vegetables’ cell walls together break down faster. The result? Restaurant-level creaminess.
Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter
The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.
The proof is in our carrot ginger soup. We tested myriad approaches to attain the smoothest puree possible, including cooking the carrots until they turned to mush, but none produced satisfactory results. When we added a ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the simmering carrots, though, we created a soup that was downright velvety after just 20 minutes of cooking, no fussy straining required. The technique worked like a charm, so we put it to use again in our broccoli-cheese soup, attaining a lush puree.
So, the next time you have a hankering for a creamy vegetable soup, try adding a scant amount of baking soda to your vegetables as they simmer on the stovetop. You’ll make your silkiest soup yet—the perfect blank canvas for a fancy garnish.
3 Silky Soups: