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May 28, 2009 07:56 AM

cornstarch vs cornflour

i didnt make up my mind whther or not i should use cornflour or corn starch for soup.
if i put some cornstarch in soup, could it be like some chinese version of soup?

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  1. First, you are in the US, right? So for you 'corn flour' does not mean 'cornstarch' (UK terminology).

    What's your source for the corn flour? I only have found it at a health-food store (bulk) or Bobs Red Mill packages. It is, essentially, finely ground corn meal. It seems most suitable for southern style cornbread.

    Cornstarch is commonly used as a thickener for sauces and soup. It produces the glossy finish that you associate with Chinese food. Contrast this with a sauce thickened with a (wheat) flour roux. Cornstarch is the most common thickener that is used as a slurry.

    I don't know how cornflour would work as a thickener. I've never seen it recommended as such. However the Mexican style cornflour, masa harina (used for tortillas) is used as a thickener in chili. It is supposed to give an earthy flavor that complements the chili. I don't know how it would look or taste in a clearer soup.

    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      corn flour is milled from the whole kernel, while cornstarch is obtained from the endosperm portion of the kernel, so while they both come from corn, they are not the same thing, nor are they interchangeable.

      cornstarch used judiciously can be nice in soup, but you need to dissolve it in hot liquid (like a small amount of your broth) before adding it to the broth. too much will make it gloppy, so start with a small amount. let it simmer a bit to incorporate before you add more.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Just a small correction, cornstarch should be dissolved in cold liquid not hot. If you start with hot water the cornstarch just seizes up, in my experience at least.

    2. Either way I think it's a bad idea for soup - yes, cornstarch is a quick way to thicken (and a little goes along way) but I associate that particular type of gloppy thickness with canned food or other less appealing industrial food. It would not be "like some chinese version of soup" for me.

      1. Is this soup the lobster bisque that you are talking about in other threads?

        I'm not sure either is good choice for this. Is cream appropriate?

        Another option for last minute thickening of a soup is kneaded butter. About equal parts (AP) flour and butter are kneaded together, and then added bit by bit to adjust the thickness of a sauce. It may be best in a sauce that already had butter or started with a flour roux.

        Keep in mind that in larger quantities, cornstarch is commonly used as the thickener in puddings (e.g. vanilla pudding, chocolate pudding). I use it to give some body to hot chocolate (without the calories of cream).

        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj

          so do you think no thicking agent in the bisque much better?
          i have tried add roux into the bisque. but i didnt like it. when compared with one only with heavy cream, i felt more smooth.
          but this time i wonder what cornstarch would do to my bisque.

        2. Bisque is often thickened with a small amount of flour. But you'd have to make sure you cooked it long enough after adding the flour to ensure you eliminated any flour taste in the finished product; usually about five minutes in my experience. I actually prefer not to thicken my bisque, beyond the thickening that occurs with the puree of the solids (meats, seafood, veggies, etc.) and the heavy cream. Bisque should be creamy, not necessarily thick.
          That said, you can use a small amount of corn starch in solution with a small amount of cold water to thicken the bisque. Corn starch, when properly used, should not generate an objectionable mouth feel. Be sure that the bisque is at a full boil when you add the corn starch/water solution and that it remains at a full boil (stirring constantly) until the corn starch does its work.
          Another method for thickening bisque is to chop a bit of potato and include it in the mix during the initial cooking phase, the puree it with the solids to provide a thickening agent. You need to be judicious about this method however, you don't want your bisque to taste like a flavored potato soup.

          3 Replies
          1. re: todao

            i used yesterday 60 mml ( bobby flay posted that info in his food network site) of cornstarch to the creamy bisque broth to thicken. i really loved the mouth feel. BTW, how did you thicken with puree of veggies? i thought that even though the puree of veggies and meats gives some porridge-like feels, it could be unlike soupy consistency. did you puree the shells form lobster with veggies without straining process ? so if i did so, do i have to eat pureed shells with the soup?

            1. re: hae young

              and i found this site ( )
              the chef in this video seems to grind the shells with veggis and he said he doesnt need any flour to thicken becuse he grinds veggis instead. ) so his customer eat ground shells and veggis all? weird!

              1. re: hae young

                that bisque recipe is utterly bizarre -- i watched your link. however he definitely would strain it out before serving. no bits, no pieces.

                i never use a thickener of any sort with bisque. it's a reduction and isn't supposed to have a consistency like chowder. or porridge. that's not at all right.