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Dec 3, 2009 11:07 AM

question on grains in soup

I often make soups with rice, barley, or other grains. After a night in the refrigerator, the grains always soak up pretty much all of the broth. Last week I made turkey, rice, and red bean soup. When I added the rice (1 cup) there was close to ten cups of liquid in the soup. I took it off the heat and poured it into another container to cool as soon as the rice was done cooking. There was still no broth left in the soup the next morning. This has happened to me several times in the past, but usually with a larger amount of grains for the amount of liquid. I was thinking there was no way 1 cup of rice could absorb 10 cups of broth.
Does anyone know if and how this can be prevented?

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  1. First, if you are not going to consume all of the dish when you cook it, it's just best to undercook the rice or add the rice the next day when you reheat the dish. Another thing that I find is that parboiled rice (i.e.uncle ben's) is better used in soups because it holds together better and doesn't absorb the liquid in the soup as much.

    When we make soup containing rice where I work, we add the cooked rice to each serving separate so that we don't have this problem....Hope that helps....

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw

      Uncle Ben's parboiled or converted rice (same thing), less starch "coating" than regular rice, will not absorb as much liquid because it has 1) no starch to bloom in the soup stock and 2) it's parboiled, which makes the starch on the grains gelatinize, making the grains harder and glossier than regular rice, hence less liquid absorption.
      When I make soups with grains, pasta or rice, I either only make enough for one meal, or cook the starches separately to add later, as cherylptw stated.
      You would be amazed at the absorption power in a humble grain of rice.

    2. Strain/ ladle out/ otherwise reserve a quantity of broth in a separate container before putting the soup "fillings" in their own container. Refrigerate separately. The grains can't absorb what isn't there.

      On reheating, put the "fillings" in the soup pot first with a little bit of liquid (water or the original broth) and cover, stirring occasionally, till it's all "steamed" hot. Then add the rest of the reserved broth and bring the whole soup back up to the heat you desire. You should have enough broth left to last the duration of the meal.

      If you have enough left to put it back in the fridge a second time- invite more people to dinner next time.
      (half joking, but of course, there are only so many times you can heat and re-heat food before it becomes unappetizing, not to mention a bacterial playground- they just love warm wet carbs-- So I really wouldn't do this more than twice, and I'd probably make sure I'd brought the soup to a boil before consuming.)

      1. For barley, I soak it overnight. Pour off the water before adding to the soup pot. It cooks much faster and doesn't seem to absorb as much broth.

        1. I cook the grains separately al dente. I store them in a separate container, put some in the bottom of my husband's bowl (I don't eat any grains) and pour hot soup over them. Wah lah!

          1. I don't know how to prevent it, but I just made jook tonight using one cup of rice and 10 cups of liquid (broth and water). It was pretty thick by the time I ate it, and I fully expect it to be verrry thick when I have it for lunch tomorrow.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Chocolatechipkt

              I thought jook was supposed to be thick, like a porridge?

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                My own invention (and perhaps inappropriate if feeding anyone other than live-in family):
                I leave the rice OUT of the soup; that is, I cook the rice separately. Then, I pour a piping hot portion of soup over some rice that I've placed in a bowl. This works for certain other grains, as well. By the way, cooked rice can be stored (in a container) for up to a week when refrigerated.

                Once upon a time, I cooked rice every Saturday, stored it in a container and used the rice all week long - in soup, in stir-fry, in improvised dishes of all sorts. It was a great time saver and served as the basis for some delicious meals prepared on the fly. I always used a brown rice of one variety or another (which may not suit the taste of some cooks and/or eaters).

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  That's how it was. I just meant I'm anticipating it being even thicker today, now that it's had a chance to sit and absorb even more liquid. :)

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    I think chocchipkt's point is that one cup of rice may be enough to absorb ten cups of broth.

                    I find cooking the rice/grains separately a pain. After having this happen to me several times years ago, I am now very very cautious and stingy with the amount of uncooked grains I throw into soup. Try just a handful of rice (1/3 cup?) and see how that works for you.
                    The parboiled rice sounds like it would work too, but i'm one of those people that would hate to buy a special kind of rice just for soup. (which is totally illogical, since i keep 6 kinds of rice in my cupboard right now)

                    of course, if the grain is the major part of the soup--ie chicken noodle or chicken and rice--then you have to store separately.

                    also, barley seems to hold up better in soup than rice or pasta. (and is better for you.) and i find, if there is too much broth absorption in a barley soup, that adding a little water when reheating does the trick.

                    1. re: missmasala

                      I think barley bloats up more than anything else, plus it loses that wonderful chewiness. Because I'm diabetic, I have to cook that stuff separately because the softer it gets, the more glycemic, raising blood glucose more.