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Sometimes, a thick and savory soup just hits the spot. The heat, balanced flavors, and hearty broth blend to create a dish people will eagerly order bowl after bowl. For restaurateurs, this is great! Soups and stews can be some of the most profitable items on your menu, especially since you can use them to stretch ingredients.

Yet as more consumers reevaluate the ingredients in their meals, it’s important for chefs or other purchasers to review their soup recipes to ensure they meet customer dietary needs.

What you’re using as a soup thickener is a perfect starting point. Here’s some food for thought about the pros and cons of the various methods to thicken soup.

Revisiting Common Thickeners for Soup

As you’re trying to get the medley of flavors just right, you may default to familiar combinations. Fortunately, the global history of soup has acquired a variety of thickening agents from a range of different cultures, giving modern chefs options to consider.

Roux – By mixing one part flour/one part fat, chefs know they’ll get a roux which can thicken soups splendidly. However, this classic thickener is going to elevate the calories in your soup and, if you go with a traditional French roux, it will make your resulting meal unattractive to your vegan or vegetarian customers. 

Cornstarch – A slurry of cornstarch is go-to for plenty of chefs, especially since a little goes a long way. This thickener has a limited impact on the flavor profile. The downside is that cornstarch has 488 kcal per cup and excessive consumption may contribute to elevated blood sugar levels. Plus, if you’re looking for a thickener that enhances flavor, other options may be more suitable.

Brown Seaweed – Coastal communities have long known about the thickening properties of seaweed. Adding a relatively small amount of polysaccharides extracted from this marine resource can improve the consistency of your soup while keeping the dish low-calorie and vegan-friendly. Plus, seaweed can add iodine and saline flavor without pouring salt into your broth.

When You Should Use Seaweed as a Soup Thickener

Swapping out ingredients can be a tricky prospect. You’re never going to get identical results by exchanging one ingredient for another (you’re not an alchemist). You might be tempted to limit your use of organic compounds from seaweed to miso soups or even some ancient Irish recipes, but there’s potential to use these polysaccharides elsewhere.

Skilled chefs can do some fine-tuning to achieve parallel flavors with a modified blend of ingredients and spices. Though it won’t be exact, you can achieve an equally appetizing soup that your consumers will buy again and again.

Are you looking to try seaweed as a thickener for soups? Reach out to the Acadian SeaPlus™ team for a sample of our high-quality ingredients.


Request a seaweed sample


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