You added an extra pinch or two or the saltshaker lid slipped off, and now your soup is too salty. Dumping the whole pot and ordering takeout isn't your only option. You can usually fix your meal when there's too much salt in your food.
Dilute, distract your tastebuds or add a starch to soak up extra salt — these are all good solutions when you have soup that’s too salty. Know that salt hacks can help, but won’t solve every overly salty pot.
Salty Soup Fixes
Salty soup can range from mildly unpleasant, with unbalanced flavors, to severely salty and inedible. If your flavors are off, try one of the following strategies.
Too Salty Fix No. 1: Dilute It. Soup can taste too salty when it's reduced too much. The flavors, including salt, concentrate. An easy fix for this is to just add more water or a sodium-free broth. Use this hack if your soup is broth-based or clear. Creamy soups may suffer textural changes if you add water.
When you do add the water, pour in just a little at a time, tasting as you go. You don't want to "fix" the problem so well that your soup becomes bland.
Read more: Simple Veggie Soup
Too Salty Fix No. 2: Add Acid. For soup that's mildly salty, adding a splash of lemon juice or vinegar helps to balance the flavors. Add just a squeeze or a teaspoon at a time. The pucker power for these acidic ingredients distracts your taste buds. Sometimes, a pinch or two of sugar, in addition to, or in lieu of the acid, can re-balance your soup's flavors.
Too Salty Fix No. 3: Go Creamy. If you have a soup that's too salty, adding a creamy element, such as half-and-half or sour cream, can mellow the flavors. For example, if you have a roasted tomato soup that's too salty, add some heavy cream to both dilute it and mellow the saltiness.
The taste of a too-salty Mexican-style soup can be tempered with the addition of sour cream. If your soup is already cream based, adding more may make it taste too milky — so be judicious in your additions.
Too Salty Fix No. 4: Add Potato. Potato and other starches soak up some of the salt and mellow your soup's flavor. Noodles and rice are other good options. You can even try adding a whole potato, allowing it to soak up some of the salty flavor and then removing it before serving.
Starchy additions also make your soup a little thicker, so you can add more water to dilute your soup without compromising texture. The starch fix is usually best for mildly salty soups.
Too Much Sodium
Ultimately, you're better off making homemade soup. Some of the highest-sodium foods are canned, or restaurant made, soups, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making your own is the best way to keep control over how much salt is added.
If you use a store-bought broth as an ingredient in your soup, do invest in the low- or no-sodium options that are available. This will help manage your sodium intake, and puts you in better control of the salty taste in your recipe.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends Americans consume 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, or less. Too much salt in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease, explains the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. You may also suffer calcium loss as a result of a high-sodium diet. Most Americans consume around 3,400 milligrams of salt per day — that's about 1.5 teaspoons.
One batch of overly salty soup won't put your entire diet over the edge when it comes to salt intake, but it may indicate that you have a heavy hand with a saltshaker. Consider alternative seasoning strategies such as fresh herbs, salt-free spices, garlic and pepper for imparting deep and exciting flavor to your soup.
- The Kitchn: "Soup Too Salty?"
- Epicurious: "How to Fix Oversalted Food?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Get the Facts: Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Salt and Sodium"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Cut Down on Sodium"