The Pantry Staple To Help Thicken Blended Soups

A low-key member of the dinner table that often surprises with its depth of flavor and variety of textures, soup might not be the most exciting dish out there, but it certainly can be delicious and warming. On a chilly evening, what could be more satisfying than a deep bowl of hearty minestrone or classic chicken noodle soup? Apart from being tasty, soup is also usually quite easy to make, often a matter of simply simmering good-quality ingredients in a flavorful base. 

And if you want to take your homemade soups to the next level, a simple technique that can make soup seem much more luxe and professional is to blend it until creamy in a blender or using an immersion blender. Elegant and often beautifully hued, according to the Los Angeles Times, blended soups need little more than a swirl of creme fraiche or a scattering of chives in order to bring a restaurant-quality dish to your home table.

But don't think that you can just toss any old chunky soup into the blender and call it a day. Often, blended soups need to be thickened with some starch in order to achieve that smooth, silky texture we all love.

If you don't want to thicken your soups with bread, you can use some oats

If you've ever made either a cold blended soup such as gazpacho or a hot one such as fall vegetable soup, you've likely noticed that in both cases, puréed soups tend to call for some starch to help enhance their smooth, velvety texture — either some torn pieces of bread or starchy vegetables such as potato. But in the case of blended soups commonly thickened with bread, such as potato-leek and creamy tomato, it's also possible to sub in some rolled or quick-cooking oats instead, according to Cook's Illustrated.

The outlet tested some of its bread-thickened puréed soups with oats instead, finding that the substitution worked nicely. This might be an appropriate swap for those avoiding gluten, as you can easily snag a bag of certified gluten-free oats, or for folks who don't happen to have any bread on hand when they start soup-cookin'.

Cook's Illustrated advises subbing in 1/2 cup rolled or quick-cooking oats per slice of bread called for in the recipe for heartier soups in which the flavor of the oats won't stand out too much, but going down to 1/4 cup oats in bright soups, such as tomato, where the grainy flavor of oats can be too strong. Looking for a non-starchy way to thicken soup? You can always blend in a bit of heavy cream or whole milk yogurt, advises BBC Good Food.