Cooking

Why So Salty?

What to do if you oversalt a pot of soup
Photo: Tasting Table
How to Fix an Over-Salted Soup

There's nothing worse than slaving away over a pot of soup (or any dish) only to completely destroy it by oversalting. Whether you put hours of effort into the soup or very little at all, the disappointment is still crushing. "No soup for you!"

Luckily, there are a few solutions that can save an overseasoned soup, and one happens to be a food hack that probably predates most of the hacks you've seen around the internet lately. Some call it an old wives' tale, while others swear by it. I learned the trick from my mom. Here's how it goes:

Add a raw, peeled potato into a pot of oversalted soup and let it simmer for around 30 minutes.

Don't let the potato cook so long that it disintegrates into the soup. Allow it just enough time to almost cook through. The potato will soak up some of the salt and some of the liquid. The starch the potato adds will also balance out all the extra salt. To maximize the surface area of the potato, you can cut it into halves or quarters. When you remove the potato, your soup should taste less salty.

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The potato won't completely eradicate all the salt, however. Naysayers claim the trick is bogus, but a modest difference can be a meaningful one. The Kitchn recently tested the potato method and found a "subtle" distinction and concluded that though the potato trick isn't a "mind-blowing tip," it is a reminder that starches and vegetables can be "tasty additions" in addition to "helping absorb extra salt."

Like The Kitchn, I like to think of the potato as more of an aid than a final answer. I've seen good results, especially when I use it in conjunction with another solution, like dilution or adding acid. Of course, the best solution is the simplest: Season slowly and taste often to avoid oversalting in the first place.

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