Quick reference for how to thicken soup

Soups can be thickened in so many ways. The best method varies by soup. Here is a handy guide for when to use each method.

MethodBest forHow to use
flourThis is the most common way to thicken soup and sauces. Good when you aren’t sure what to use.Dissolve 1 tbsp of flour in 2 tbsp cold water. Slowly whisk into simmering soup until desired thickness. Add in batches and wait until it comes to a simmer to determine whether you need to add more.
rouxGreat for soups and stews where you want a browned flavor like Cajun gumbo from the start.Add equal parts flour and oil or butter to a sauce pan on medium heat. Cook until desired color. Anywhere from off white to a dark chocolate is possible. Be careful not to burn it or you’ll have to start over. The darker the roux, the less thickening power it has.
beurre maniéGreat for when you want to thicken a soup but also add a bit of richness, like bouillabaisse.Mix equal parts flour and butter until completely blended. Whisk into simmering soup a little bit at a time until desired thickness is reached. Add in batches and wait until it comes to a simmer to determine whether you need to add more.
beansBeans add thickness without any fat. Good for soups that already have beans like chili and ham and bean.Blend some cooked beans with liquid from the soup. Add to the soup and repeat until desired thickness.
cornstarchSoups based on clear broths, like chicken noodle. Broth will still remain clear.Dissolve 1 tbsp of cornstarch in 2 tbsp cold water. Slowly whisk into simmering soup until desired thickness. Add in batches and wait until it comes to a simmer to determine whether you need to add more.
potatoes, potato flakesCream of broccoli or asparagus, or chowders. Good for soups that already contain potatoes.Blend cooked leftover potatoes with liquid from the soup. Add to the soup and repeat until desired thickness. Potato flakes can be added directly to the soup.
cauliflowerCreamy, low carb soups. This will thicken creamy soups but still keep the carb count lowBlend cooked cauliflower WELL with liquid from the soup. Add to the soup and repeat until desired thickness.
bread, breadcrumbsRustic soups like Spanish sopa de ajo or Italian minestrone. Thickening can take longer than other methods.Add breadcrumbs directly to soup and simmer for 15 minutes, or until thickened. Bread can be blended with liquid from the soup and added back to the pot.
ricePeruvian aguadito de pollo, chicken and rice. Good for soups that already contain rice. Best when you only want a small amount of thicknessBlend cooked rice with liquid from the soup. Add to the soup and repeat until desired thickness.
lentilsLentil soups or stews. Will add heartiness to a vegetable soup.Blend soup with a stick blender or remove some lentils and liquid to a blender and add back to soup. Repeat to desired thickness.
masaChili and tortilla soup. Best for hearty soups with a Latin flavor. Whisk masa into simmering soup. Add in batches and wait until it comes to a simmer to determine whether you need to add more.

Texture and flavor enhancers

The following ingredients are commonly added to soups to enhance the flavor or texture. They won’t thicken the soup, though.

  • cream – provides richness to soups that already have a milk base. Good for chowders and cream of something soups.
  • gelatin – provides the “lip smacking” characteristics of soups based on meat bones. Best for meaty soups when your broth is a bit thin
  • butter – provides richness and buttery flavor. Goes with just about everything.
  • coconut milk/cream – provides a tropical flavor common to Southeast Asian recipes and richness. Great for curries.