Common Soup Seasonings
Everyone has their favorite soup recipe, the one they love to make when they want something warming and soothing, and soup recipes vary enormously from thin to thick, mild to spicy, meaty to vegetarian, and even hot to chilled. There is a soup recipe for every season, occasion and palate, and it is a very easy dish to make. What takes a little mastery, however, is knowing which herbs, spices and other seasonings to add to soup to enhance its overall flavor.
A lot of herb and spice matches are down to personal preference, so if you want a medium-spicy soup rather than a very spicy one you might wish to tweak the recipe, omitting the cayenne and just using chili powder for example. Many fresh and dried herbs can be interchanged too.
Popular herbs found in many different soups include basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill weed, and then you have more unusual ones such as chervil and fennel seeds. Spices used in soup-making include chili powder, caraway, black pepper, and nutmeg, and then you also have spice mixes such as curry powder. When making a simple soup based on bouillon, meat and vegetables, you can shape the flavor however you wish, perhaps using cilantro and chili powder for an aromatic, spicy taste, or sage, rosemary and thyme, along with onion powder, for a warm, earthy taste. There are literally thousands of different herb and spice combinations to choose from.
Whichever seasonings you want to use, bear in mind dried herbs are better when added early on but fresh ones do better when added at the end of cooking else they will lose a lot of their flavor. If using spices, just add a little at a time, because adding more is easier than realizing you have put too much in there. Some herbs and spices can even be used in dessert soups such as fruit soups, examples including basil in chilled strawberry soup or nutmeg in chilled pear soup. When using fresh herbs in a soup recipe, consider saving some of the sprigs to use as a garnish on the finished soup.
Infograph showing many of the common herbs and spices used in the preparation of soup, stew and chowder. This is not an all-inclusive list but gives a pretty thorough idea of many of the possibilities. Laid out for quick reference to what you need to know…
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