7 Easy Ways to Make Any Soup Better

Soup is soul food, satisfying and warming on a cold day or night. Sometimes, though, you make a pot of soup that’s good and fine, but maybe you wish it were a little bit… better. Maybe you want to take this soup to the next level, and give it something extra to improve the taste, texture, or complexity of flavor.

Here are a few tips to take you beyond the recipe and make all your soups sing.

Irish Beef Stew

Irish Beef Stew

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 the veggies 

Similar to searing meat, 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.

Try making an easy roasted root vegetable soup with squash, potatoes, carrots, and any other vegetables you like. Roast them for half the amount of time you normally would, then mix them into a warm pot of broth. Add some beans or leftover meat from another meal to round it out.

7 Ways to Make a Better Soup - Add Texture

White Bean and Ham Soup

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. If your ingredients won’t puree easily (like a beef stew), then try pureeing some white beans and mixing them in.

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, Pecornio, 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.

Fish Stew with Ginger and Tomatoes

Fish Stew with Ginger and Tomatoes

6. Perk up a bland soup with simple pantry staples

Got a soup that tastes a little bland and unexciting? Add a splash of vinegar (any kind!), or a squeeze of citrus. Chances are, you could use a little more salt. Go ahead—it’s ok. Salt perks up flat flavors and helps balance out bitter-tasting ingredients. Some freshly cracked pepper helps, too!

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.

Recipes Pictured

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  • dale goodloe

    Has anyone used Miso to add flavor and complexity to soups? Or (Mild) Golden Curry Sauce Mix? To me, it’s all about the broth. Love to add lots of veggies but want the broth to be the star. Don’t really like stews. Will appreciate any comments.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Dale! Emma here, managing editor for Simply Recipes. I love the idea of using miso to add flavor! Why have I never thought of that before (aside from making…you know…miso soup). Great suggestion. Curry sauce would also be good, I’d imagine.

  • Anne

    Thank you, Carrie, for an excellent article. I had discovered these ideas over the course of five decades of cooking, but seeing them gathered into one concise presentation was a revelation. Well done!

  • Dana

    How do you make CORN BROTH? Would love to try it?

    • Emma Christensen

      Dana, great question! I just added it to my list to do a post on corn broth this summer when corn is in season again! Basically, you simmer corn cobs in water for a while, along with any other veggies you like (onions, carrots, celery, etc). It makes a light, and lightly sweet, broth. Enjoy!

  • Connie

    I have tried and agree with all of them. I especially like to add fresh herbs before serving like cilantro, basil or parsley.

  • Jennifer

    I always make my soup and stews at least a day in advance so the flavors have a chance to come together. I also use cheese rinds whenever I can.

  • Jenny

    Butter makes any soup taste better as well as sauces etc!

  • Stephanie

    Cheese rinds are the best things ever! So much better to add that nice saltiness to any soup!

  • Liz

    Definitely #6 … add an acid. My favorite is aged balsamic vinegar – white or red depending on the soup. Lemon or lime juice is great for chicken/white broths. Also agree with salt if the soup has been made with homemade stock and no salt in stock but still … taste it!

    And yes #4 – homemade stock. I made stock in my Instant Pot – so easy and once you make your own, however you make it, you will not go back! I also make and freeze “corn broth” from summer corn – great veg stock with sweetness. And then, the pot liquor from beans … another great non-meat broth.

    Great list, Carrie!!

    • CG

      Yes, a glug of red wine makes it into many of my heartier stew recipes. I love your idea about corn broth! Stealing that

    • Jim

      Make and freeze “corn broth” from summer corn – great veg stock with sweetness.
      And then, the pot liquor from beans.

      New to this, can you explain ???