There are many ways to thicken soup. Each one has a slightly different effect on the flavor and consistency of the dish. Experiment with each method and get together with family and friends try the results. Soup is prepared by boiling vegetables, fruit, meat or fish in water with herbs and other seasonings. Soups range in thickness from clear, thin broths, bouillon and bisques to chowder. Soup is often served as a first course.
Choose a thickening agent. Creams and cheeses are best for thickening chowders and bisques. Sweet potatoes, applesauce, mashed bananas, plain yogurt and heavy cream can all be used to thicken fruit soups. Mashed potatoes, bean paste, tofu, flour and cornstarch can be used to thicken vegetable soups. Use gelatin and silken tofu to thicken cold soups such as gazpacho.
Make your soup. If it is not a meat-based soup or does not contain carrot, potato or any other vegetable that requires long, slow simmering, add your thickening agent after your soup has been cooking for 15 minutes. If it is a long-simmering soup, wait at least 30 minutes before adding thickeners. This gives meats and root vegetables enough time to become tender. If you are using flour, bread crumbs or cornstarch, wait until just before your soup is ready to serve.
Stir the soup, bringing soup from the bottom of the pan to the top. Make sure your thickener does not settle to the bottom of the pan. Simmer your soup for 5 to 10 minutes longer after adding your thickening agent. Remove from heat.
Check your soup after it has been cooling for 10 minutes. Stir it, scraping the spoon across the bottom and slowly bringing any remaining settled thickener to the surface.
Drip a little soup from your stirring spoon. If you are satisfied with the thickness of your soup, serve it. If not, return your soup to the heat and add more thickener, repeating Steps 1 through 4.
Mix cornstarch, flour, dried potato flakes or bread crumbs into cold water before adding it to your soup. This ensures that there are no lumps, and that the thickener will mix into the soup completely. If you use warm or hot water, you will probably have lumps.