Soups without texture get boring in a hurry.
There is something very comforting and tasty in a that first spoonful of a bowl of homemade cream of carrot or potato or what-have-you soup – but after the 10th or 20th spoonful it’s just sort of more of the same – sort of ho-hum.
If you add some well thought out and complementary textural elements…a little bit of crunch or a little bit of chew, or even a different liquid sensation to that soup – then that soup stays interesting and delightful from the first bite to the last.
I encourage you to try this. To take a soup without much textural variation that you like and that you have made before (any kind of cream of vegetable soup, for example) and try adding a few different textures to the soup…and see how much better it is in the end!
Some ideas for adding different textures to a soup
- Homemade croutons – these are a no brainer, and because most breads are pretty neutral in flavor, there aren’t many soups that won’t match with the taste and crunch of toasty bread
- Hard grated cheeses, or crumbly cheese, like feta
- Crunchy bacon
- Olive oil, or other flavored oils – textures don’t have to be crunchy. A liquid with a different viscosity from the soup is discernable on the tongue and does add textural interest. Olive oils can also add great flavor to a great many soups – think a pureed fresh tomato soup with extra virgin olive oil on top!
- Lemon or lime juice – sprinkling a little lime over the top can add exciting little pops of sour liquid on the tongue – a great go-to move
- Different nuts or seeds, sprinkled on top, often chopped fairly finely first (You rarely want the textural component to dominate, just to add a background note)
- Minced white onion, or green onion – I really like a little finely mined onion in a creamy soup, both for a textural contrast, but also for a cooked/assertive raw flavor contrast
- Crunchy fried noodles or tortilla strips (think tortilla soup!)
- Cold, smooth and silky avocado chunks
- Pork rinds (Great in Asian style noodle soups)
- Bean sprouts or shredded cabbage (also good in Asian noodle soups)
- Spices with texture – sea salt, coarse pepper, coarse coriander seed, etc.
- Vegetables – for example, if making a cream of asparagus soup, throw in some slices of cooked but not pureed asparagus into the soup
And many many more! This is just a top-of-my-head kind of list and if you use your imagination, your garden and your pantry to good effect, you’ll come up with many more ideas for great textural additions to your next homemade soup.
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