Restaurant Secrets For Making Better Soups

Apr 24, 2019 | Cooking Tips, Soups

It is spring, which means lots of rainy, dreary days spent waiting for warmer weather. What better way to perk up those spring blues then with a nice big bowl of soup?

Soup can be made of so many things, and made in so many ways. But there is an art to it. It does take some amount of knowledge and skill to make a really good bowl of soup.

In restaurants, soup is generally made of products that are reaching the end of their lives or leftovers from the day before. We use as few ingredients as possible and manipulate them to get as much flavour as we can. The goal of a restaurant chef is to maximize profit, and make the most out of very little.

Your goals probably aren’t based on balancing profit and loss. However, the same principles that we use in restaurants can be applied to make much tastier soup at home.

So, let’s get in to it. Here are…

Restaurant Secrets For Making Better Soups

chicken noodle soup

Puréed Soups – Maple Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash Soup

Who doesn’t love butternut squash soup? Ideally it is smooth, creamy, a bit sweet, and oh so delicious. What’s not to love?

Butternut squash soup is usually made fairly simply. A butternut squash is peeled, the seeds are removed, and it is cut into cubes. Some onions and perhaps garlic will be cooked a little, and then the squash will be added. This will be covered with water and maybe some maple syrup, boiled until the squash is soft and then puréed. Finally, it will be seasoned with salt and pepper and that’s about it.

The soup I just described is the most basic version of a butternut squash soup. It’s not bad, in fact most people would probably be happy with that. But with just a little more effort, that good soup can be made extraordinary.

Roasting Squash

Try Roasting the squash on 425°f for 35- 45 minutes prior to adding it to the soup. This will draw the natural sweetness out of the squash and intensify it’s flavour.

Just cube the squash as described above. Toss it with a few tablespoons of olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake. You want to develop a little colour on the squash, a little caramelization.

Once the squash is thoroughly roasted, add it to the soup pot as you normally would.

Caramelizing the onions

While the squash is cooking take the time to caramelize the onions. This is done by cooking the onions in a little oil, on low heat for a long period of time. All you have to do is stir the onions every once in a while and scrape the bottom of the pot from time to time.

Caramelizing onions, just like roasting the squash, draws out their natural sweetness and deepens their flavour. It makes the flavour of the finished soup richer and deeper.

Maple Syrup

A little maple syrup adds a nice pop to the flavour of the soup. Too much can quickly become over powering and make the soup sickeningly sweet. By roasting the squash and caramelizing the onions, you are already adding sweetness to the soup. This means that the maple syrup is just there for that maple flavour.

A little maple syrup can go a long way if you take the time to reduce it. Once the onions are cooked, add about half as much maple syrup as you think you should and cook it until it has almost completely evaporated. This will intensify that maple flavour meaning you can use less than you normally would.


Use stock instead of water when making soup. The reason being that soup is usually made with only a few ingredients. Those ingredients have to provide as much flavour as possible. Otherwise, you may have to add other ingredients to compensate for the lack of flavour.

Stock is just flavoured water. It could be flavoured with vegetables to make vegetable stock. It could be flavoured with chicken bones and vegetables to make chicken stock. Beef bones and vegetables to make beef stock. You get the idea.

I generally recommend making your own stock. It is really straightforward and takes no effort at all. But, feel free to buy it at the grocery store if you prefer. Just, use stock instead of water.

Puréed soups

Maple butternut squash soup is generally a puréed soup. Often at home people will purée their soup in a blender and call it a day. A blender alone will never be able to give you that smooth, creamy texture that you get from soup in restaurants. That comes from passing the soup through a fine mesh sieve once it has been puréed.

Passing the soup through a fine mesh sieve is just what it sounds like. Pour the soup into the sieve, and using a spatula or the bowl of a ladle, push the soup through the tiny holes. You are trying to get as much of the solids through the sieve as possible. What comes out the other side is the smoothest, creamiest possible.


The principles I just described for making butternut squash soup can also be applied to pretty much an other puréed vegetable soup. Roast the main ingredient. Caramelize the onions. Use stock instead of water. Pass the final soup through a fine mesh sieve. Done and done.

Broth Based Soups – Chicken Noodle

spicy noodle soup

Broth based soups like chicken noodle are one of the classic home remedies for whatever it is that ails you. But rarely does homemade chicken noodle soup taste as good as the stuff made in restaurants. So, what’s the secret?

It will likely come as no surprise to learn that the secret to a really flavourful and delicious broth based soup, is a really flavourful and delicious broth. This brings up the question, what exactly is a broth and is different from a stock?

Broth vs. Stock

There is one really big difference between broth and stock. Stock is made from bones. Broth is made from meat. Stock uses water as the base. Broth often uses stock as the base. That’s pretty much it. Other than that they are made the same way.

To make it a little clearer… to make stock you take chicken bones and simmer them with carrot, onion, and celery. To this some herbs might be added. To make broth you simmer the whole chicken with vegetable and herbs.

In terms of flavour, broth is much stronger than stock. It generally has a slightly higher fat content and so it has a richer mouth feel. Broth is also usually clearer than stock. This comes from clarification, which is a relatively complicated process that we don’t need to get into. One way to keep a broth fairly clear is to not add carrots to it as they will cloud it. And do not boil the broth while you are making it.

Cooking the ingredients

Another secret to flavourful broth based soups is to cook all the ingredients separately. This seems kind of counterintuitive but it’s true. Start with a hot flavourful broth and add cooked ingredients to it. This keeps the flavours clean and crisp as well as the broth clear.

If you are making the soup a day in advance, all of the ingredients can be combined the day before except any ingredients that will continue to absorb liquid like rice or pasta. Add these only at the last minute before serving otherwise they will suck up way too much liquid and become mushy and gross.


Again these same principles apply to most broth soups not just chicken noodle.

Start with a rich, flavourful broth. Add only cooked ingredients. Leave ingredients like rice and pasta out until the last minute so they don’t become soggy, mushy and gross.


Nothing beats a really good bowl of homemade soup. Hopefully, with these restaurant secrets you can now find yourself making better soup then you ever thought possible. I hope what you’ve realized is that with just a little more effort, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. That is true of all cooking, not just soup. It is always that little be extra that separates the good from the great.

The next time you make soup, even if you are following a recipe, take the time to roast the vegetables, or make a flavourful broth. You will be able to taste the difference, and so will everyone else.

Here are some other soup posts you may enjoy…

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese in 30 Minutes Or Less

Soup Secrets- Everything you want to know


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!