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Too Much Salt in Soup


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This afternoon I threw together a little vegetable soup.  I added 1 tsp of Diamond Crystal kosher salt while sautéing the mirepoix.  A quick taste suggested that would be enough salt.  Well, when the soup was finished, it tasted too salty.  The extra salty taste may have come from the chicken stock I used (I'll have to check that later).  However, I'm wondering if there's a way to reduce the saltiness - maybe drain some liquid and replace with water or some other less salty liquid.  That would probably require adding some additional herbs and spices, but that's doable.  Can you think of another way to accomplish the task?.

 ... Shel


 

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Diluting, as you suggested in your original post, is the most reliable way to go about it. 

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I like the potato idea.

 

I think I've used some sugar in the past to reduce the impact of the saltiness.  I think it may be why brines often include sugar (often implied, but no one ever seems to come out and say it).

 

Cream could probably also help if its inclusion does not run counter to what the soup should be.

 

 

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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"6) A potato will absorb excess salt in any soup or stew - Potato does not reduce saltiness. It absorbs salt yes, but it also absorbs liquid, leaving the same amount of saltiness you had before. Once salt dissolves into the cooking liquid there is nothing that can be done to undissolve it. You can make another batch of whatever without salt and add it to the one with too much salt, or add more ingredients or water, depening on what you are making to make the salt a little more even. Other than that, you don't have many other choices. (Also, adding sugar does not make it less salty! It just makes it a little sweeter!)"

From Epicurious  to Sara Moulton  I think the potato thing has been debunked. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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1 minute ago, Shelby said:

Maybe I was just so hungry after waiting for the tater to do it's thing that I thought it worked lol.

If it works for you... 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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34 minutes ago, Anna N said:

"6) A potato will absorb excess salt in any soup or stew - Potato does not reduce saltiness. It absorbs salt yes, but it also absorbs liquid, leaving the same amount of saltiness you had before. Once salt dissolves into the cooking liquid there is nothing that can be done to undissolve it. You can make another batch of whatever without salt and add it to the one with too much salt, or add more ingredients or water, depening on what you are making to make the salt a little more even. Other than that, you don't have many other choices. (Also, adding sugar does not make it less salty! It just makes it a little sweeter!)"

From Epicurious  to Sara Moulton  I think the potato thing has been debunked. 

 

This, apparently from Epicurious user/commenter kmmackie .

 

I don't know why I'd take that as a definitive source.  There's a lot more going on in absorption, like in brining, than it may seem on the surface.

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39 minutes ago, IndyRob said:

 

This, apparently from Epicurious user/commenter kmmackie .

 

I don't know why I'd take that as a definitive source.  There's a lot more going on in absorption, like in brining, than it may seem on the surface.

We have visited this topic more than once.  

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Just now, IndyRob said:

I don't see how that thread helps.  There's nothing definitive there.

 

Does anyone have a salinity meter, a potato, and a Michelin judge?

Do a search of "all content" using the search term "oversalted".  We have honestly done it to death. If you want to believe it works I have no reason to persuade you otherwise. To each their own. Potatoes are cheap. Over and out. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

"6) A potato will absorb excess salt in any soup or stew - Potato does not reduce saltiness. It absorbs salt yes, but it also absorbs liquid, leaving the same amount of saltiness you had before. Once salt dissolves into the cooking liquid there is nothing that can be done to undissolve it. You can make another batch of whatever without salt and add it to the one with too much salt, or add more ingredients or water, depening on what you are making to make the salt a little more even. Other than that, you don't have many other choices. (Also, adding sugar does not make it less salty! It just makes it a little sweeter!)"

From Epicurious  to Sara Moulton  I think the potato thing has been debunked. 

There are two aspects:

1) The real salt concentration (how much is dissolved)

2) The perceived saltiness

While we talk mostly about the former, we usually mean the latter. This is why sugar/starches (e.g. from potatoes)/gelatine/low ambient pressure works to make oversalted things more palatable. It's merely a perception thing, but has little to do with the salt concentration.

Contrary to the quote there are methods to lower the salt concentration: Osmosis (semipermable membrane, lower salt concentration on the other side), thus stewing unseasoned meat or root vegetables in the liquid can (marginally) reduce the concentration. Reduction/crystallization (works only on defatted and non-gelatinous liquids) and ion exchange (not for houshold use) ...

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8 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Do a search of "all content" using the search term "oversalted".

 

Okay, did that.  80-95% of the results were general complaints about various foods being over salted (without regard to remedy).

 

Among the rest, I found no credible arguments.  Comments like "The potato thing doesn't work" don't work unless supported by something other than the statement itself.

 

I don't really care what the truth is (I didn't suggest the potato thing), just that in the end we end up with the truth.  Perhaps we keep going 'round and 'round because that hasn't happened..

 

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Dilution is the only solution.

 

I make soup with unseasoned homemade stock and (mostly) only season at the end. If I'm sauteeing aromatics or something, I can season along the way without running the risk of making the broth too salty. Seasoning at the end is the easiest way to ensure that you have the salt/acid balance right. If you season too early, or if you use off-the-shelf chicken stock, the soup will lose volume as it sits there and get saltier and saltier. Another advantage of using stock rather than broth is that you can reduce it down if you want to amp up the flavor (without amping up the sodium content). I add herbacious notes about 25 minute out before I want to serve, remove them, season with salt/fish-sauce/soy-sauce and add some brightness in with sherry vinegar or lemon juice.

Edited by btbyrd (log)
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Besides dilution, which is either using bland stock, or throwing a potato in(really, you are just add a product that requires a lot of seasoning, so it can help reduce the ratio of salt to other stuff).

 

You could also try increasing the fat content, this depends on the soup. Adding cream both dilutes and also coats the saltiness on the palette). You can also try balancing it with some of the other major tastes e.g. sour, sweet and bitter. This won't reduce the salty flavor, it will just balance what you are tasting. Of course, it also runs the risk of making your soup to sweet, sour, or bitter.

 

Dilution is probably the best method personally.

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Okay, so +1 on adding fat. Tonight, in an attempt to have a quick dinner, I made the first off-the-shelf canned soup I've made in years -- a tomato bisque. Sweet Jesus, they added so much sugar to it that it tasted like borderline tomato sorbet base. I'm not against adding sugar to counteract acidic ingredients like tomatoes and help round out the flavor, but this was insane. So I upped the salt content to round things out (salt, fish sauce, usukuchi soy sauce) and then added some cider vinegar for brightness. That balanced everything out, but while the intensity of flavors was balanced, the salt/sugar were still too intense. So I added in a swirl of cream and a couple pats of butter and things finally reached an acceptable level. It was a lot of doctoring for a can of soup, but oh-so necessary.

Edited by btbyrd (log)
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Sadly I have never found a way to successfully reduce the salt in a dish--soup or otherwise--after the damage is done. Diluting the broth seems like a recipe for ruining a soup. Faced with salty soup I might try adding a pre-cooked unsalted starch such as rice to change the balance a little and amortize the salt.

 

I don't salt my broth or stock when making it, nor do I put much salt in the soup as it cooks. I will taste it at the end, and add some, but prefer to err on the side of not salty and then add some tasty finishing salt on a bowl by bowl basis, to taste. Also over time I have learned to be very wary of any and all ingredients lists; most recipes are heavy on salt, at least for me, and that goes for famous restaurant cook books especially. 

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