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Food & Recipes

5 Ingredients Guaranteed To Spice Up Your Soup (From Beer to Pickle Juice)

Just in time for fall.


Soup season will be here before you know it. That means dusting off your dutch oven or slow cooker — and hopefully getting creative with your soup recipes. While classic flavors like chicken noodle and butternut squash reign supreme, a simple ingredient swap or tweak can take a tried-and-true recipe to a whole new level. Start with these five ideas for upgrading your soup this fall.

Use bone broth as the base.

Every great soup starts with a rich and tasty broth. Although the recipe may call for regular chicken or beef broth, try swapping it for bone broth instead — this ingredient switch will yield a more delicious meal than you think. Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue until the flavors are well-concentrated within the liquid. You can make a batch of bone broth and freeze it for later, or use a ready-made variety like Zoup! Spicy Chicken Bone Broth (Buy a 2-pack from Amazon, $21.99), which adds a warming kick to any soup.

Pour in beer.

Yes, you read that right: this popular brew makes a wonderful addition to soup. The cooking experts at Food Network highlight wheat beer as the ideal choice because it adds a mellow, slightly fruity flavor. Chef Robert Irvine’s recipe for broccoli cheddar soup consists of 1 ½ cups Bavarian-style wheat beer as a nod to beer cheese – a brew pub classic. Not sure how to tell a wheat beer apart from the rest? Food Network recommends looking for terms like “White,” “Wit,” “Weiss,” or “Weizen” on the label.

Keep a jar of pickle brine handy.

To ensure your soup is properly seasoned, reach for your pickle jar and pour in the brine. Bon Appétit contributor Heather Eddy suggests substituting between ⅛ and ¼ of the liquid in the soup base with pickle juice for a salty touch. Afterwards, taste and add more brine if needed. “Or, if you’d prefer a more subtle approach, try tossing in a handful or two of chopped or shredded pickles instead, for little bursts of brightness,” she notes. “Traditionalists might recoil in horror, but why not add a few splashes of pickle juice to a nice, steaming bowl of matzo ball soup, doubling down on the big dill energy.” One brand to try: Grillo’s Pickles Classic Dill Spears (Buy from Walmart, $6.88).

Cook bread in the soup.

Croutons are a common topping for tomato soup — but have you thought about cooking the bread in the liquid? Pappa al pomodoro is a tomato and bread soup that originated in Tuscany, Italy to keep stale bread and tomatoes from going to waste. Food historian Francine Segan ​​recommends using dense, high-quality bread like a baguette or ciabatta for a natural yeast flavor. “This isn’t the dish for supermarket white bread,” she writes in Italy Magazine. See how this hearty soup comes together in the clip below.

Top with creamy avocado.

Soup favorites including chili, vegetable minestrone, and chicken tortilla need a mild ingredient to balance their spices. Fresh avocado, which gives these soups a hint of creaminess and butteriness, is the perfect pick. Slice or cube one ripe avocado over each bowl of soup before serving. Alternatively, you can save yourself the elbow grease and garnish the soup with Wholly Diced Avocado (Buy from Walmart, $5.63) instead.

Wholly Diced Avocado topped over a bowl of chili
Wholly Avocado

There you have it: five easy ways to take your soup from average to extraordinary. Want to learn another mealtime trick? Check out our story on why ricotta cheese is a worthy soup topper.

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