Fresh Dill Makes All The Difference In Canned Chicken Soup

Whether you're feeling under the weather or simply have a case of the homesick blues, a hearty bowl of chicken soup can be counted on as a comforting cure-all. And while a homemade pot, bursting with freshly chopped vegetables and plenty of noodles, is probably preferable, the canned version certainly comes to the rescue when you're in a pinch (or can't muster up the energy to start stewing from scratch). To quote the great Ina Garten, sometimes, "store-bought is fine." But if a dose of nostalgia is just what the doctor ordered, there's an easy way to make your soup taste more like it came from mom's kitchen than from a can. Just add dill!

Bright and aromatic, the leafy herb adds a palate-pleasing lightness to rich and savory dishes — which is why you may be familiar with it being used in chunky potato salads or creamy sauces like tzatziki. The plant itself is related to celery (in the parsley family) and offers two edible components: leaves and seeds. While the dill seed is what you'll find being used to create dill pickles, fresh dill weed – the thin, feathery foliage — is what you'll want to add to your soup. The leaves have a grassy and almost lemony flavor, which not only provides a yummy taste but also cuts through the saltiness common to canned soups. 

Wait until the last minute to garnish your canned soup with dill

A little goes a long way when it comes to dill, so you need only add a dash of the herb to instantly infuse your soup with a fresh, earthy taste. To get the most out of it, however, be sure to wait until just before serving to chop it up and sprinkle it into your dish. Dill is an herb that's of a more delicate nature, so while it releases flavor quickly, it also begins to diminish in potency. Because of this, you should also avoid cooking with it, as extended exposure to heat will dull its flavor.

The tender herb is also quick to brown due to high levels of the enzyme polyphenol oxidas, which causes the cells to oxidize (i.e., turn brown from air) when damaged, which is another reason why you'll want to keep the herb intact until you're ready to garnish and enjoy.

And this little trick doesn't just apply to canned chicken soup. You can upgrade the flavor of many soups and stews with the help of dill, from creamy asparagus purées to meaty borscht creations. Simply chop some up and sprinkle it into your pot or bowl just before eating. Even if you just popped it into the microwave to prepare, your soup, store-bought or otherwise, will taste fresher and more robust. Who knows? Maybe that was mom's secret all along.