Over-salting a dish can be a cook’s worst nightmare, and it’s happened to all of us. Here you’ll learn a few techniques that might save your salty soup!
Adding more liquid to a soup or stew can minimize the over-salty flavor of the dish. You can add a low-sodium broth or stock, or plain water, which is best. However, if you find that simply adding more liquid causes your dish to be too thin, then add a thickening slurry.
Create a Slurry
Technically, a slurry is a combination of a starch and water that is combined, then added to thicken a dish. The starch used in the slurry determines the thick/thinness of the soup/stew not because of the type of starch, but the temperature of the starch/slurry. A slurry is generally a 1:4 ratio; 1 tablespoon starch to 4 tablespoons water.
For example, you have a vegetable soup that is too salty, but you are pleased with the consistency. If you make a slurry using a root based vegetable (a potato or arrowroot), you’ll want to add the slurry while the soup is boiling. A root based slurry will thicken at a lower temperature–so if you’re pleased with the consistency, you’ll want to add the slurry when the temperature is at or near the boiling point which is 212°F.
If you make a slurry using a cereal-based starch (corn or wheat), you’ll want to add the slurry when the soup is at a lower temperature, because cereal-based starches thicken at higher temperatures. Conversely, if you want to thicken a soup/stew, you’d do the opposite and add the cereal-based starch while the dish is at or near the boiling point.
If you elect to use flour in your slurry, consider that a flour slurry will thicken at low temperatures and not thicken at high temperatures.
A pinch of sugar may minimize saltiness of a dish, but note that high levels of sugar will prevent thickening. If you’re wanting to make a thick, hearty stew add a pinch of sugar. If this doesn’t resolve the salt issue, then you’d want to either low the heat and add a root based slurry, or bring the heat up and add a cereal based slurry.
Adding an acid (vinegar, lemon, wine) to an over-salted dish acts the same way sugar does in that a little may adjust the salt, but a lot will prevent thickening. Acids should always be added at the end of the cooking period to avoid coagulation of any dairy products.
Now that you’ve got ample ammunition to remedy over-salted foods, it’s time to get cookin’!
See you in the kitchen!