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Old 04-06-2006, 04:31 AM   #1
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Cream based (thick) soups help

Hi guys,

I'm a complete novice at cooking. I've been experimenting with soups and I guess they are still 'drinkable'

This question may sound stupid. But I need help in making thick soups like Campbells Cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, or french onion soup. The soup I made at home are not thick at all.

May I know what is it about these soup that make them thick? Is it adding flour or whip cream or what?

I've been researching on many recipes and some include flour, some whip cream, some milk and many others include both. So if I want my soup to be thick like those Campbells Cream of Chicken soup, what do I do?

If its milk that I need to add, will low fat milk work?

Thanks in advance guys!

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Old 04-06-2006, 08:49 AM   #2
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'Cream of' soups are thickened with a white (bechamel) sauce. Cream of chicken, for example, would be basic chicken soup ingredients with the addition of the white sauce. Non-fat milk would work here.

As far as French onion soup, I'm not accustomed to seeing it thickened. It's basically a beef broth flavored with caramelized onions and some seasonings. Topped with bread and cheese, it becomes a gratinee.

Heavy cream is also used to thicken some soups. It also changes the flavor substantially. Adding cream to tomato soup will give you cream of tomato. It will taste smoother and creamier than the sharper taste of plain tomato soup.
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Old 04-06-2006, 09:02 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Andy M.
'Cream of' soups are thickened with a white (bechamel) sauce. Cream of chicken, for example, would be basic chicken soup ingredients with the addition of the white sauce. Non-fat milk would work here.

As far as French onion soup, I'm not accustomed to seeing it thickened. It's basically a beef broth flavored with caramelized onions and some seasonings. Topped with bread and cheese, it becomes a gratinee.

Heavy cream is also used to thicken some soups. It also changes the flavor substantially. Adding cream to tomato soup will give you cream of tomato. It will taste smoother and creamier than the sharper taste of plain tomato soup.
Right thanks for your help. Ermmm how do I make a bechamel sauce?

What are the directions for adding the bechamel sauce or non-fat milk?? Do I add them in only when the soup with the vegetables and all is almost ready? And I have to whisk the milk or sauce as I pour them in right?

Some forumers in other threads mentioned thickening the soup with flour. What's the main difference between using flour and bechamel sauce or milk?

Sorry for the barrage of questions.
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Old 04-06-2006, 09:37 AM   #4
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Ask as many questions as you want. That's a main purpose of this forum.

Bechamel or white sauce is fat, flour and dairy. So If you're thickening with white sauce, you're thickening with flour.

Here's an example:

For cream of mushroom soup you would saute mushrooms and onions in some butter or oil, maybe add some wine and reduce it out. Sprinkle flour onto the cooked veggies and seasonings and cook for a couple of minutes.

Then whisk in broth and cook for several minutes. Then add the dairy (milk or cream) and cook for a while to finish.
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Old 04-06-2006, 09:59 AM   #5
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Hi Frenchonionsoup, welcome aboard.

As always, Andy M has hit the nail on the head.

I have to agree that French onion soup, which I love to make although I start from bones and meat and it takes a while, is not a cream soup.

Maybe you are thinking of vichysoisse, which is a cream soup with oniony (have no idea if that is a word, fortunately the word police rarely visit this site) leeks and potatoes, and it is thick (but not from a roux or bechemel).

If I had to choose between them, would have a hard time.

Again, glad you are here and let's hear more from you.
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Old 04-06-2006, 10:04 AM   #6
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French... all of the above is right-on.
For bechemel also do a google and you will see lots of how-to's. A lot of them will call for nutmeg... leave it out unless you want some of that flavor in your soup.
Having said that, there is yet another trick cooks use to make the soup thicker... think stick blender... otherwise known as the motorboat...
If your soup has things in it like potato or other vegetables, take some of it out and run it through the blender and then add it back. Leave about half of the soup's ingredients not blended. The half that is blended will get all smooth and thick.

Of course if you do have a stick blender, just out it in the soup and pulse it till you get the texture you like.
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Old 04-06-2006, 11:49 AM   #7
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Simple Bechemel sauce is made from equal parts flour and fat. This part of the recipe is called a roux. For instance, melt 2 tbs. lard or shortening in a pan, and add an equal amount of flour. Stir over medium heat until all is well mixed. After allowing to cook for about three minutes, slowly add milk or cream, a little at a time and stirring constantly.

Surpizingly, the sauce gets very thick at first. But as you add more liquid, it will thin into a very creamy and smooth white sauce. Season with salt.

For a more clasic flavor, add diced onion that has been sweated in butter until soft, and blend in with an imersion blender. Most people also add ground pepper.

For a slightly different sauce, still a Bechemel but sometimes called a blonde sauce, substitute real, salted butter for the fat. Rollow the same directions as above.

But you can make a similar sauce that is highly flavored by changing the liquid from milk or cream, to a meat broth, usually made from veal or lamb. This is called a Veloute. It is another one of the 5 Mother Sauces, as is Bechemel.

I have also used the basic roux (fat and flour mixture) to thicken, or bind, pea soup, lentil soup, bean soup, and others that have ingredients that will settle to the bottom. Binding the soup causes the solids to remain suspended throughout the soup liquid.

To bind a soup, I make a roux using usually 3 tbs. butter, and 3 tbs. flour. I lightly salt it as it cooks. I then ladle in a bit of the soup broth at a time until I achieve a thin paste. I then add the paste to the entire soup pot. I stir it and let it simmer for about ten minutes. If I need to thicken it further, I make more roux and repeat the process until I achieve the desired thickness.

Bechemel is also used to make creamed veggies, creamed chipped beef, a good spinach soufle, and a host of gravies and small sauces such as bernaise, and Mornay.

Adding butter, grated Gruyere, and Parmesan to Bechamel sauce creates the small sauce, Mornay. It's great on green veggies such as asparigus, brocolli, brussle sprouts, etc.

So you can see that the baasic roux is the foundation of three of the five mother sauces, including Bechemel (white sauce), Veloute (meat broth based sauce), and Espagnole (brown sauce). It is also used to bind soups and stews.

The other 2 Mother Sauces are Mayonaise (imulsified sauces made from egg and oil), and Tomato Sauce. There is some contention whether Tomato or Oil & Vinager constitues the 5th Mother Sauce. I just say that there are actually 6 Mother Sauces. :-)

It is essential to learn how to make a smooth, lump-free roux. Fortunately it is easy to do. Simply use equal amounts of fat and flour, and then slowly add liquid over medium heat while constantly stirring. Nothing could be easier.

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Old 04-06-2006, 01:15 PM   #8
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yo Goodweed, I thought they were called mother sauces cause my mom taught me how to make em!
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:21 PM   #9
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I have never used a bechamel to thicken a soup its more work then necessary all I do is make a roux add it towards the end and then add some heavy cream.It's that simple.
I only make bechamel as a base to make other sauces like mornay.
What you can also do is make a bigger batch of roux and keep in fridge take some out and microwave until hot then add a little to thicken a sauce or soup the roux must be hot and stirred into hot soup or sauce or else you end up with roux dumplings.
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmcgrew
I have never used a bechamel to thicken a soup its more work then necessary all I do is make a roux add it towards the end and then add some heavy cream.It's that simple.
I only make bechamel as a base to make other sauces like mornay.
A roux and dairy. Aren't those the ingredients for a bechamel?
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:55 PM   #11
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Yes it is smarty pants.What Im saying is you dont have to make a separate sauce to thicken soup.Im most likely to put an onion with a few cloves in the milk or cream and possibly add other ingrefients for my bechamel
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Old 04-06-2006, 06:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by jpmcgrew
...you dont have to make a separate sauce to thicken soup.Im most likely to put an onion with a few cloves in the milk or cream and possibly add other ingrefients for my bechamel
You're right. It comes together in the pot.

I haven't tried a lot of different flavorings in bechamel. I'll have to try the onion in there. No cloves, though. Don't like them.
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Old 04-06-2006, 06:47 PM   #13
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To clarify you put a whole onion with the cloves stuck in onion in the milk or cream and warm it up then take it out it adds a very subtle flavor.
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Old 04-06-2006, 07:29 PM   #14
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There are those that insist nutmeg is an essential part of a good Bechemel. But I've never used it. Can't say whether it helps the sauce or not.

I think we need to open a discusion on mother sauces. There are probably as many variations on a simple mayonaise recipe as there are goulash recipes.

I'll go ahead and open the topic. Everyone else, come on in, the water's great.

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Old 04-06-2006, 07:38 PM   #15
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Nutmeg is good the trick is just a tiny pinch or so not too much.
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Old 04-06-2006, 08:53 PM   #16
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Nutmeg is good the trick is just a tiny pinch or so not too much.
I agree. It adds to the dish.
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Old 04-06-2006, 09:41 PM   #17
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Hi Frenchonionsoup, welcome aboard.

As always, Andy M has hit the nail on the head.

I have to agree that French onion soup, which I love to make although I start from bones and meat and it takes a while, is not a cream soup.

Maybe you are thinking of vichysoisse, which is a cream soup with oniony (have no idea if that is a word, fortunately the word police rarely visit this site) leeks and potatoes, and it is thick (but not from a roux or bechemel).

If I had to choose between them, would have a hard time.

Again, glad you are here and let's hear more from you.
Haha Auntdot, I think I myself was rather confused with the gazillion types of soups I have drunk.

Actually, the idea is that generally I like my soups thick not necessarily creamy. I had thought that thick soups like Cream of Chicken, lobster bisque or french onion soup were all thickened the same way.

The last soup I made was Minestrone. The first time I made it, it was rather watery and far too fluid for my liking. Subsequently, I added some tomato puree into the soup and it became much thicker, more like the ones found in restaurant.

Thanks for your help too.
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Old 04-06-2006, 09:55 PM   #18
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So let me summarise and clarify. To thicken soups (cream based), we need to make either a roux or belachamel sauce.

The roux is essentially fat (butter or lard) and flour. It becomes belachamel when you add milk to it.

Some people suggested using heavy cream in place of the milk. What is the difference in taste and texture? I'm don't wanna end up with a tub of cream in the fridge sitting for weeks cos I only make soups like once a week or so. Milk is definitely more convenient for me.

So will a roux itself thicken a soup or would belachemel be preferable?
Some recipes suggest that we sprinkle flour onto the vegetable or whatever we are sauteeing and then add milk as the soup is near completion. This is a kind of simplified belachemel isn't it? Cos it seemed to have left out the part about making the roux by melting butter and flour.
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Old 04-06-2006, 10:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North
It is essential to learn how to make a smooth, lump-free roux. Fortunately it is easy to do. Simply use equal amounts of fat and flour, and then slowly add liquid over medium heat while constantly stirring. Nothing could be easier.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

The liquid above, are you referring to milk or some cream? If it is, then the above refers to the production of a belachemel right?

Wasn't trying to catch you out, just that if I get something wrong and screw my soup up, I won't know how to rectify the mistake due to my inexperience.
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Old 04-06-2006, 10:09 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by frenchonionsoup
So let me summarise and clarify. To thicken soups (cream based), we need to make either a roux or blelachamel sauce.

The roux is essentially fat (butter or lard) and flour. It becomes belachamel when you add milk to it.

Some people suggested using heavy cream in place of the milk. What is the difference in taste and texture? I'm don't wanna end up with a tub of cream in the fridge sitting for weeks cos I only make soups like once a week or so. Milk is definitely more convenient for me.

So will a roux itself thicken a soup or would belachemel be preferable?
Some recipes suggest that we sprinkle flour onto the vegetable or whatever we are sauteeing and then add milk as the soup is near completion. This is a kind of simplified belachemel isn't it? Cos it seemed to have left out the part about making the roux by melting butter and flour.
The heavy cream will add some richness. Use milk and see how you like it. You can switch if you like.

Either a roux or a bechamel will thicken. If you sprinkle flour onto the sautéed veggies, the flour and the fat you used to sauté combine to make a roux. That will thicken the soup. If you then add milk, it becomes the same as a white sauce (fat+flour+milk).

As mentioned in an earlier post, any soup that contains a starch such as rice, potato or beans, can be thickened by pureeing some of the starch to thicken the liquid.

A lot of what is preferable in any soup is determined by the type of soup. You understand the basics, do some experimenting.
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