A recovering perfectionist and avid cook, James has discovered many creative and tasty ways to perfect every dish.
Help! My Soup Is Too Spicy!
Did tasting your soup make you (and possibly an innocent bystander) a little wild around the eyes? Fear not! Most kitchens have all the materials needed to douse the fiery inferno you've created, without butchering the taste.
What Can I Use to Make My Soup Less Spicy?
- Coconut milk
- Sour cream
Think of it as death by potato: The quasi-miraculous absorbing powers of the potato can kill some of the burn quite efficiently. Slice a potato into several sections and let the pieces float in the soup for around 20 minutes, with the flame on low. The potato will soak up excess salt and spice, dimming the heat noticeably.
Does potato really make spice less spicy?
This method is held by some to be merely a placebo because the potato does not selectively absorb excess nutrients, but instead acts like a sponge.
Solution rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
I gave this a couple of stars because of the general ease of use and availability of potatoes, and because this method will not taint the soup's taste. Unfortunately, while many swear this method works (usually an ancestral heirloom), I don't see how it can efficiently solve the problem.
Take a tablespoon of granulated sugar and stir it in the soup until it has visibly dissipated. It is better to do this in stages to make sure the dish does not become too sweet, or likely to send the kids plowing through the kitchen on a sugar high.
Does sugar really make things less spicy?
Sweetening a soup with a fistful of sugar will remove the bite...but adding too much sugar will butcher the taste (unless you're a sugar addict, in which case: bon voyage).
Solution rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
If done carefully, the sugar solution is both cheap and accessible as well as time-efficient. But in this case you are literally playing with fire as solace may come at the price of flavor. If you are confident you know what you are doing, go for it. If not, my advice is to steer clear.
3. Sour Cream, Yogurt, or Coconut Milk
If you aren't flatly refusing to tamper with your creation out of principle, then adding these dairy products to your soup will soothe its temper. There are two main ways to approach the dilution of spice with these additives, directly and indirectly. If you want to directly address the spice issue, simply add the aforementioned ingredients slowly, and in stages. Yogurt works wonders with chili and curry.
If you are pleased with the piquant taste, and do not want it altered, serving dairy products on the side will assuage the fire. This way, your soup remains—well—yours, and the pain becomes tolerable.
Warning: Once again, if we directly mix the dairy products with the soup we run two risks. Firstly, we make ruin our carefully achieved taste. Secondly, if you are preparing the soup for an unknown party of guests, you will exclude and potentially embarrass lactose intolerant diners.
Solution rating: 3 stars (out of 5); 1 star if it excludes some of your guests.
4. The Common Sense Approach
Correcting your soup with logic can be the best approach, assuming you have enough ingredients. The solution involves making more of the same, with less spice. The process will inevitably lead to a lower concentration of spice at the cost of—cost. This may not necessarily be a problem if you are making a dinner-for-two, as a dinner-for-three isn't that big of a sacrifice. But in large quantities, it may not be worth the effort. In my case, I usually find that the power of pride compels me, short of getting a bank loan.
Warning: May cost you an arm and a leg.
Solution rating: 4 (out of 5) If you can afford it; 0 stars if you can't.
As you can clearly see, an overly spicy soup is never a lost cause. In fact, you may even end up improving the taste (granted, this is unlikely). I hope you enjoyed this article; please feel free to share any thoughts or methods on the comment section below and I'll do my best to incorporate them as soon as possible!
Thanks for stopping by!
toolongdidntread from San Francisco Bay Area on January 27, 2012:
Hmm... what about dilution? Adding water would expand the density of the spiciness, resulting in a lower spicy-unit-per-cubic-centimeter rating, which is the official rating system of the International Spicy Soup Consortium (ISSC).
Sue on December 26, 2011:
I made some vegetable soup. I followed the recipe but found out that it had too much of a sweet taste to it. The recipe called for 3 t. beef bouillon and 3 cups fo vegetable juice. Would this have made it sweet?
hot2manytimes on November 21, 2011:
the potato does work to remove some of the spice,but not all I have used it mucho!!
Ela Enakhifo on November 10, 2011:
I rarely consider too much pepper a problem, because I like my food reeeaally spicy. If you make something that is really hot by accident, just pour everybody nice big glasses of milk and say enjoy! :)
SilverGenes on June 24, 2010:
I swear by the potato for too much salt - just toss 'em in and scoop 'em out after. For spice, you're probably right with the last one. :)
James Nelmondo (author) from Rome, Italy on June 11, 2010:
Thank you Wbisbill! It seems to be a startlingly common mistake. Thanks for stopping by!
Wbisbill from Tennessee USA on June 11, 2010:
Great advice and interesting hub. I tend to make my soups (especially chili) too hot. Thanks!