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Fixing Burnt Soup?

  • j

Today I made a huge batch of Beef Barley Vegetable Soup. I had a bowl and it was absolutely delicious.

Unfortunately, I accidentally left the burner on while I was having the first bowl, and by the time I went back into the kitchen about 20 minutes later it had burned only a little on the bottom, but the entire eight quarts of soup tasted burned. It's not awful, and if I have to I'll eat it rather than throw it all away, but dang, it sure tastes like burning.

Is there anything that can be done to salvage it? My dad suggested putting some large-cut sacrificial potatoes into it to filter out some of the burnt taste, but before I bought some spuds I figured I'd ask if anyone knew of a home remedy for taking the burnt taste out of soup. Surely I can't be the first person to do this.

Google totally let me down on this matter.

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  1. I think you sould take it out of the burnt pot immediately. After that, I'm not too sure. Potatoes would take salt out and flavor, but they'd also soak up most of the liquid.

    I'd love to know how to rescue it, so I'll be checking back to see what anybody else can suggest.


    1 Reply
    1. re: TexasToast

      Potatoes don't take out salt -- that's been proven to be a kitchen myth by food scientists.

      Potatoes won't remove heat or burned flavors either.

    2. Thanks. I already moved it out of the pot and into containers so they could sit in the fridge while I pondered what to do with six quarts of leftover burnt soup.

      1. My mom says boiling some potatoes in the soup and then discarding them will help. Personally, I doubt it. But, if you don't mind possibly wasting some spuds - give it a try.

        In future, if the bottom gets burned, do not stir the soup at all, if a taste off the top is tastes good, imeediately pour the top half of the soup into another container. taste again. If no burned taste in the bottom half of the pot, pour that into your container, leaving the botton inch or so in the original pot. Often people lose a potentially salvageable pot of soup by panicking and stirring up the pot if they suspact burning - that mixes the burned part on the bott in with the OK top part.

        6 Replies
        1. re: niki rothman

          Ladle it out, don't pour. The less you disturb the lower contents of the pot, the better.

          1. re: greygarious

            too late! I already poured it out. Oh, well.....here doggie....here doggie....

            1. re: grumpy123

              That's what I was thinking ... dogs love to make cooking mistakes disappear ;)

              1. re: foiegras

                Great idea- but please make sure the soup does not have onions in it, as it can cause devastating, potentially fatal anemia in dogs.

                1. re: JenJeninCT

                  That would be Heinz Body Anemia, which affects mammals to varying extents (cats and humans included). Uncooked garlic and onions, and both garlic and onion powder, are the more problematic forms. Cooked onion in the quantities found in soup should not be a problem for an otherwise healthy animal, unless it was fed consistently over a long period of time.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Thanks greygarious, as a former vet tech and career dog professional, I am well aware of the issue. Unfortunately, there's no way to determine how much is "too much" for an individual dog, so my plan is to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of my own pets- a practice I came to the "hard way"- I have a dog who acquired it and survived (the dog on the left in my avatar- turned 15 on 1/13). Because I knew of the potential, he was never purposely fed onions, but maybe got a bit here and there as described with this soup to the dogs idea. Anyway, thanks for the less- general info than I provided info on behalf of other 'hounds

        2. Once a sauce is burnt (or soup) it's beyond salvation in my experience. I've heard the potato trick but it failed for me. Throw out and start again. Sorry!

          1. The potato cure for soups is a myth that's been busted by testing, btw.

            1. HI
              I just threw out a wonderful lima bean/beef soup. I just was reheating it to get the meat pieces I had chopped up and had it on high for just a few minutes,BUT I had thrown a parmesan rind in (in pieces) and that stuck and burned!
              Tried potatoes and an apple and lemon and vermouth! and cream but no avail!!
              moral: Throw it out!!!

              1. About the only thing you can do is pour off any part that hasn't been burned BEFORE you stir.

                There's really nothing that will remove a burned flavor so you can only hope to save the part that isn't burned.

                1. I have heard that if you add curry powder or mustard this will disguse the burnt taste. I tried it with mustard but didn't like it but curry powder really works. Also I have heard that adding milk removes the burnt taste but I haven't tries this yet.

                  1. I've done the same thing myself, and I've never been able to fix it. Either eat it or throw it out, shoooooooot.

                    1. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar, works time! :)

                      1. My mum just burnt her chicken, vege and lentil soup.
                        We got several little dishes and tried vinegar, curry, milk, and sweet thai chilli i to see what worked best to remove the burnt taste
                        Curry and sweet thai chilli seemed to work.
                        We used the sweet thai chilli in the end and it was a really yummy soup imo.

                        1. just used curry on burnt turkey soup --worked like a charm --thanks for the info

                          1. Get a Dog, He'll love it.

                            1. Add about a tablespoon cayenne per cup of soup, re-heat gently and stir. Might not exactly help, but the burnt flavor will sink to the background as other sensations become more offensive (;-/)

                              1. Did the curry work for you? I made wedding soup in a large soup pot. How much curry should I use? Please answer ASAP...Thank you.

                                1. Potatoes do zip - that's a myth.

                                  Unfortunately, one avenue of attack - adding a rich dairy fat - won't help because it will just carry the burnt flavor even further.

                                  The most you can do is drain the solids from the liquid, rinse the solids, and try substituting new broth - treating it like a stew if you must (if the solids haven't take on the burnt flavor themselves, you can add fat now). It won't be the same but it won't be a waste.

                                  1. Add some liquid smoke and seasoning like a spanish paprika, curry, galam masala, etc. It won't alter the burned tasted but might compliment it.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: alwayscooking

                                      Liquid smoke?!!

                                      This is like the the "hair of the dog" cure for hangovers.

                                      Just make it more burnt and smokey so it tastes better. Love it.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Have to work with the ingredients! and the sales speech


                                    2. I had a similar experience this evening with an amazing beef barley soup. I noticed that no one on this page actuallly came up with the answer, which is cinnamon! It works great with a little cumin to mask the flavour. Add liberally and make sure you stir it in. Potatoes do work for the salt but not for burnt flavours!

                                      1. ain't nothin' to save that soup! burnt is burnt.

                                        sometimes, if you discover it soon enough, you can avoid stirring and remove the top layer with a ladle to avoid the scorched flavor.

                                        cinnamon to mask it? cumin? i'll remember that. but it is a mask, and the burnt flavor is still gonna be there to some extent.

                                        and potatoes don't remove salt.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          I tried the cinnamon and cumin and it WORKED! I had burnt the beef in a stew. I tried sugar, which made it sweet and burnt. Then I found this idea and so I added a tsp of cin. and a tsp of cumin and it's all good again. Complex flavors!

                                          1. re: pennypal

                                            I am amazed, would you make it again?

                                            1. re: pennypal

                                              pennypal, that is really amazing. i knew i liked cumin! ;-).

                                              1. re: pennypal

                                                Tried it, saved supper. Very good remedy, still had that smoky scent to it, but the taste was awesome. Thanks!!!!!!!!

                                            2. I came to this thread in search of help for the same problem, however it was not barley soup that I scorched, but a chicken-gumbo goulash thing that I made last night. I tried to reheat it on the stove (stirring often!) but I still burnt it.

                                              I ladled it out into a seperate bowl, leaving the scorched bottom area, but it still had that unpleasant "Smoky" flavor. I read the suggestion for Cumin and Cinnimon, so I rushed out to walmart (in my pajamas no less!) and bought some. ( I had been neglecting my spice collection)

                                              What I discovered, was that it did improve the flavor, but did not totally mask the smoky taste for me. However, since I had started with a chicken stock / tomatoe base, I added in a can of tomato soup, and some celery salt. It did not take away the smoke completely, but it compliments it much more, and also for the most part, masks it.

                                              Its a strange gumbo anyway, and as we all know, with gumbos, anything goes! I plan on adding in some potatoes as well later today.

                                              1. Someone above on this thread suggested liquid smoke (a brilliant idea!), to which I would add smoked paprika, chipotle sauce, chipotle Tabasco brand sauce, and smoked sausage. But I would just try these things out on small quantities of the soup. Ther is no sense in (further) ruining the soup, if none of these things fit. Sometime you just have to thrown in the towel. Good luck!

                                                1. just add milk or cream, after about 15 minutes the taste will be gone

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. The burned flavor can not be removed. It's the most insidious flavor and completely takes over a dish. I worked as a cook for three years and burned a few soups and sauces in my time. If there was a way to save it, the restaurant industry would have figured it out for sure.

                                                    As others have said, the potato thing is a myth. Also, adding cream/milk/butter won't work. Those are fats and they have no impact on the bitterness of the bitter burned flavor (take a taste of scorched milk if you don't believe me).

                                                    1. cinnamon/cumin/curry - about 1/2 teas. of each has revived the homemade stock for my onion soup. The burnt taste is still there but completely changed into a very exotic flavor.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. i've burnt so many originally delicious potions that i bought two flame tamers / heat diffusers
                                                        that sit between the burner & pot. no boiling over or burning .. placing it down also
                                                        gives more presence of mind :)

                                                        1. Not really a solution but an anecdote: I burnt some cauliflower I was roasting once; it seemed inedible, but I decided to puree it w/chicken stock and lots of roasted garlic and some fresh thyme. Stuck it in the fridge, but mentioned it to guests. One insisted on trying it, aand then demanded the "recipe." She now serves it often, starting by "burning" some cauliflower, and she calls it [Nomadchowwoman]'s Burnt Cauliflower Soup. I crack up every time she tells me she has served it again.

                                                          9 Replies
                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              Well, it tasted somewhat different from my usual cauliflower soup, but not bad. I don't, however, deliberately burn cauliflower when I make soup. But my friend does; she apparently finds the slight bitterness appealing.

                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                maybe she could combine it with some charred broccoli rabe! ;-)

                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                    I do hate throwing away food I've just cooked, so I always try salvaging. Except for roux. A burnt roux can't be salvaged; it will ruin the whole dish, all the wonderful ingredients.

                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                      No, burnt roux is a lost cause. I'm really not much for saving burnt food. I try not to burn things, but it does break my heart when having to toss.
                                                                      I once burned a whole #10 can of pecan halves, beautiful things, about 96 ounces of pecans, and had to chuck them. It wasn't just the money, it was the beautiful pecans. It was years ago and the incident still weighs heavily on my conscience.

                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                          I am the queen of burnt nuts (hmmmm, that sounds vaguely obscene)--I probably burn them one of every three times I'm trying to "toast" them.

                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                            Yes, nuts by and large require a watchful eye. Pine nuts are especially notorious burners. I find pan toasting to be problematic, unless you're standing over them without distractions, but I hate to turn on the oven to roast a 1/2 cup of nuts.
                                                                            I have toasted quantities in advance and then stuck them in the freezer, but I'm not sure if that's better, flavor-wise, than toasting to order.

                                                            2. after reading all of these posts (even the ridiculous ones) I've found that the BEST tried and true solution to making a burnt VEGETABLE soup not taste burnt: add a pinch of EXTRA pepper to each bowl. This will not remove or soak up the burnt taste, but will add to the flavor and make it taste amazing. it will not taste spicy, hot, or like burnt wood. it will be fabulous.

                                                              1. just tried a mix of cayenne, curry, cinnamon and cumin, thanks to all of your suggested, and it totally helped my burnt turkey white bean stew. oh and i threw in some fried bacon bites, too. seriously...really helped! thanks all.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Catherine G

                                                                  I made 24 quarts of chili con carne with all local organic ingredients, and foolishly used a large pot with a thin bottom - previously only used for non-toxic fiber projects. Never again! The bottom scorched, before I could smell it, and the flavor was distributed throughout the chili. It was not good enough to serve to anyone else, but I was willing to eat it myself, calling it "Campfire Chili". Tonight I warmed some cayenne, curry, cinnamon, cumin, peanut butter and a good sized piece of locally made pepperoni. Then I added the chili. It tastes a little smoky, but much, much better. I've attached a photo made with my phone of the chili with a buttermilk biscuit.

                                                                2. I just burned my vegetarian samosa filling, and combined all the tricks I could find on Google: salvaging the top layers and adding tons more curry powder (and garam masala, and more cumin, and more coriander, and more cinnamon), two tablespoons of milk and a tablespoon of peanut butter... the original flavour is definitely lost but the new version is actually good too.

                                                                  1. I shall never use a 12 quart pot for a lump stew ever again....burned too fast before I could smell it.

                                                                    (great northern beans, carrots, celery, asparagus, cabbage, beef, ham, chicken, rice, tomatoes, tomatoe sauce, water, garlic, onions, paprika, cayenne, and red pepper flakes) Burned after an hour on low. Still tastes good though I been living on it for a week!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Grendal

                                                                      I made 15 bean soup with bacon in a preasure cooker from an online recipe and burned it. I managed to save it the next day with curry, cracked pepper, sea salt, garlic powder and sweet mesquite seasoning from costco kirkland brand. I put it in the crock pot and cooked it again for 8 hours and it is really good. Next time I plan on doing it the old school way.

                                                                    2. I came here because I burnt a huge pot of chicken stew. I tried the milk...didn't work; I tried the cumin...it worked somewhat. I went to another sight and saw many had tried peanut butter. I was skeptic, but I did it anyway. It worked like a charm. Where before it had a slight smoky cumin taste, now I really taste the cumin and not the burnt flavor. I am sorry I added the cumin now. Soup is still good though, and it's better than throwing it out.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mzlisapizza

                                                                        I just cooked a pot of bean soup and it turned out a bit burnt. Quite noticeable. But I tried the peanut butter and I must say that it worked like a charm.

                                                                        1. re: mzlisapizza

                                                                          Oh, thank you! The peanut butter saved my chili...I then had to add a bit more cayenne pepper to cover the odd flavor from the peanut butter but once I did that it tasted fantastic!

                                                                        2. lol' thanks for being honest and sharing done this like "di to" 10% the time I make soup and it really is disappointing because just like you say you take some out right before it's almost done "like, it needs a few minutes more but it's good" and you have a bowl and while you are delighting in your soup creation the rest gets spoiled with a burnt bottom that sours the rest of the pot "totally sucks" but I don't think we can fix it but even with the burnt flavor the stuff is still tastey ...awe such a compromise for a really good soup to have a flaw.
                                                                          I have done this with some soups and took the pot and strain the bulk and redo the broth to save the soup but the fixed batch isn't as savory as the orginal batch that stewed with all the spices and vegies but it does remove the burnt taste.
                                                                          I think it's a judgement call depending on the batch of soup you make and the hours it simmered. I think water or blan tasting soup is worst than flavored tasting soup with a hint of burnt to it. When i mess up like this and I hate it too because my bowl was so good when I was testing it .. I just say it's still a good soup just not the best or the flavor I intended it to be. Yet, the burnt flavor if it's slight like you are describing which I have done is not over powering to the other ingreidents then it makes the soup more rustic "lol" like it was cooked on an open flame/fire in a kettle pot ...so flow with it...ok over out this is my best advice "cheers"

                                                                          1. I made a double batch of 15 bean soup and burned the bottom of the pan and it got really smoky. I didn't have time to deal with it at the moment so after it was cooled I carefully emptied the contents of the pot (12 qt stock pot). I scraped the burnt layer off the bottom of the pan, then skimmed it little by little by hand to get all of the burnt bits that had gotten mixed in. Then I hit the web for an answer. After reading all of these posts I first tried the vinegar, just about 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar. It brightened it up immediately. Then I tried 1 tsp peanut butter and it just sort of gave it an Indian inspired flavor I didn't think my family would care for so I went back the the vinegar. Added 1 Tbsp cider vinegar and mixed it up. It isn't perfect, but it salvaged it, for sure. It now tastes more like intentional smoke flavor, much brighter and balanced.

                                                                            1. Just eat around the burnt part! :)

                                                                              1. I burned my Ham bone w/ Barley and Veggies soup for the first time in 35 years!!! I always make a huge batch to freeze and share with neighbors and they were really looking forward to it. Not only was that a big enough reason for me to be very mad at myself, but thinking about the wasted money gave me an extra kick in the rear! However, thanks to this blog, I found out that a little cinnamon was the perfect solution. I knew a potato was the answer for excess salt, but I didn't think it would work in this situation. I also added an extra can of Rotel Tomatoes and voila'...delicious soup once again. A little extra kick... in the right place this time! Thanks everybody :~) 

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: busymomiam

                                                                                  If you don't mind the spicy...a nice delicious smokey flavored hot sauce dies the trick. A couple extra acidic tomatoes doesn't hurt but the hit sauce is key

                                                                                2. I recently burned a chicken and vegetable stew. What worked for me was adding lemon/lime juice. The acidity of the juice masked the burned flavor of the broth. Noting the the chicken and vegetables didn't absorber the burned flavor it was just the broth that was affected.

                                                                                  1. So thank you to whomever said the cinnamon and cumin idea. I also added a tad more water then to taste and very slowly: salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Delicious and a definite kick but totally saved the day and my mood! Thanks! Also, is case it needs to be said, put the soup in a different pot before altering it.

                                                                                    1. Burned Vichisoise (sp?) With cinnamon and peanut butter....interesting...

                                                                                      1. I just tried the white vinegar; it WORKED LIKE A CHARM!!!