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How to Thicken Soup Quickly, No Cornstarch Required

Soup gets the short end of the stick when it comes to quick and easy weeknight meal planning. You rarely see soup on a list of top meals to be made in under 30 minutes. You’ve probably learned that soups require lots of good simmering time for the ingredients to meld, and that the liquid should cook down until you’ve got something full bodied and delish. That’s only partly true.

You’re right about wanting to spend time developing flavor, but equipped with the right ingredients, that doesn’t need to take hours to do. A good base of garlic, onions, and other potent aromatics can get you to flavor town in just a few minutes of simmering.

Chicken and Rice Soup

But what about that whole full-bodied element? On a day like today (it’s currently sleeting cats and doggos in NYC), I crave a soup that is not only robustly flavored, but also thick and rich, with some heft to it. It’s that viscosity that gives a soup that satisfying stick-to-your bones feel, and enables it to hold its own as a meal. A brothy soup is great, but a brothy soup with a super sweet bod is even greater. There are many ways to thicken a soup—cornstarch, potato starch, flour, bread—but I’m here to introduce you to a lesser known technique. And it’s one that is equal parts delicious, nutritious, and functional.

So what’s the trick to thickening on the quick? A handful of uncooked rice. That’s all folks, just a handful of white rice. Any kind will do: jasmine, basmati, short grain, long grain. When added to a brothy (or watery, even) soup, and left to simmer for 20-30 minutes, the rice breaks down, releasing its starch and thickening the liquid that it’s cooking in. It’s a double whammy because you get that added rice-y flavor and bonus thickening, leaving you fuller and more satisfied. No need to make a slurry, or a roux, or to start Googling those words if you’ve never heard of them.

No more weak sauce, watery weeknight soup, okay? Rice-thickened soup is here to save you.

Well, well, well. Look who showed up:

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