4 Chef-Approved Ways to Make Soup Less Salty—Plus, How to Avoid Oversalting

It happens to the best of us—even to professional chefs. Here, they share their tried-and-true tricks for reducing the saltiness of soup.

pork cabbage soup with bread
Photo: Christopher Testani

If you've oversalted your soup, don't panic. Salty soup is a common kitchen mistake, even for professionals. And no, you don't have to suffer through a bowl of soup with a little too much salinity—there are some easy fixes. Even if you're starting with a store-bought broth or pre-made soup, these chef-approved tweaks will help reduce the sodium and make your soup more palatable.

Increase the Volume

"The easiest and most effective method is to simply make more soup," says Chef Matt Krimsky, senior director of culinary at Genuine Foods, a from-scratch food service provider for schools and higher education. "Increasing the total volume will decrease the amount of total salt." For example, double your batch of tomato soup or cream of potato once you realize it's too salty. By so doing, you will eliminate the added salt and stretch your soup to its peak flavor.

Dilute the Soup

You can also dilute the soup with unsalted broth, then let it simmer to get back to its desired consistency. Similarly, you can add more unsalted broth and a thickener, such as flour or cornstarch, pre-mixed with a little water to create a slurry which stirs in well to any soup. This method will bring the soup back to its original consistency faster than just adding stock and simmering—plus, the thickener will absorb some of the salt.

Alternatively, dilute the soup with cream, milk, or non-dairy milk products, stirring in a small amount at a time and tasting as you go. If you're working with a condensed soup base, sub in milk for water, it can easily help cut the saltiness.

Add Raw Potato

If making more soup or diluting the soup isn't possible, try adding raw potato. It will help to extract some salt from the liquid, says Krimsky. To do so, add a whole peeled potato to simmering soup and let it cook through, about 20 minutes. Remove the potato once it is cooked—and has absorbed some of the salt. While you shouldn't leave the potato in your soup, it is edible. If it's not too salty for your taste, mash it with other potatoes to balance out the saltiness.

Add Acid

Another way to cut the salt content of soup, whether it's homemade or out of the can, is to add acid. If you're making a savory, umami-forward soup, like lentil soup or cream of mushroom, try a spritz of fresh lemon. Tomato soup, which already has acid, may benefit from a splash of red wine vinegar. Meat-based soups can also stand up to complementary vinegars. Acidic and tangy garnishes, such as lemon zest, lime wedges, balsamic, or plain yogurt can also help cut down the salty flavor. Fresh flavors, like herbs, can help too.

How to Prevent Oversalting Soup

To prevent your soup from getting too salty in the first place, Krimsky recommends seasoning in layers and tasting constantly.

  • There's no need to add all the salt at once—especially because once it's added, it can't be removed.
  • Use unsalted or low-sodium broths to control how much salt is added to your soup.
  • Be aware of any components you're adding to the soup that already have salt in them, such as canned beans, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, pasta boiled in salted water, etc. These will add saltiness to the soup as it cooks.
  • Don't let the soup boil aggressively. "While reduction enhances flavors by concentrating them, it also intensifies salt content," says Krimsky. Keep soup just below a boil, and leave the pot covered or partially covered to trap steam.
  • Starting with roasted vegetables rather than uncooked ones and using fresh herbs are other ways to build flavor and depth without a lot of salt.
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