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Thickening cream soup..HELP!

I make corn chowder every corn season and I also make cream of chicken rice. I have been experimenting with thickening agents and have not found one that will make the soup rich and thick without breaking down. I would go to one particular restaurant( now closed) that had the thickest creamiest soup I have ever eaten, how can I get that same hearty texture...I like to make several batches and freeze them, the flavor is great but I am still searching for that thickness.

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    1. re: GH1618

      I do too, but not for soups that will be frozen as the texture gets weird. I'd start with a roux. It shouldn't' break down".

      1. re: magiesmom

        I did just try a roux at the end , after the soup has cooked for 40 minutes or so, are you suggesting the roux in the beginning?
        I saute the potatoes, celery, onion and corn, then add homemade chicken stock and cook for 40 minutes and at the end is the thickening process.
        Thanks to all

        1. re: foodeditormargaux

          Why? Roux used properly will give a velvet texture to the soup and is very stable. It also fills the Poster's want for enrichment.

            1. re: chefj

              roux was the answer for me, the soup was just like I wanted it, although instead of milk I used condensed milk and the soup was just like I remembered it to be.

          1. re: Ruthie789

            I started with a roux this time, reluctantly I might add, and it was GREAT..Thanks. That was what was needed.

            1. re: fourunder

              I make a cream of cauliflower soup with pureed rice as a thickener.

              1. re: grampart

                I recently made cream of cauliflower and fennel with an immersion stick and cream. It was a small batch, made with stem and trimmings, cooked till tender, and pureed.

            2. If you have a lot of corn, make a corn cream to thicken it and add the most intense corn flavor. Here's how. Cut kernels off cobs and put into food processor along with "milk" scraped off the cobs. Process to a puree and then press through sieve into bowl. Take that liquid and add it to the chowder, you will be amazed.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    XG works very well. Just need to use it judiciously

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      I agree, but I still fail to see the humor in it that Samalicious apparently does.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Except in the fact that it can cause bloating, gas and can have a laxitive effect in some people. Not sure if that was the funny part

                  2. One trick sometimes used by restaurants is to add evaporated milk. Very rich, very creamy, quite forgiving in terms of ingredient proportion and seasonings. It's available in a nonfat version for a less decadent but still silky-rich interpretation. Just don't use sweetened condensed milk, unless you want to wind up with a dessert!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: eclecticsynergy

                      I used sweetened condensed milk and it was horrible. I got confused. Lol. How do I fix it?

                        1. re: tasteytreat

                          There is no way to fix it.... Toss the soup and read labels more carefully in the future!

                      1. Cream soups can be made with pureed vegetables, cream, and/or a starch thickener.

                        Commercially made soups usually depend on starch thickeners. A flour roux is one option (think pan gravy or bechamel, white sauce). Corn starch, potato starch, arrowroot, tapioca are added as a slurry. But these starches vary in character, suitability for use with dairy, and stability during freezing and reheating. Businesses can choose a starch that suits their needs. You should read up on starch thickeners.

                        Cream adds a richness, but not a lot of thickening. Evaporated milk is also stable during cooking, adding a sense of creaminess with less fat.

                        My best cream soups start with pureed vegetables, and are enriched with cream. I cook the vegetables till soft, and then use a stick blender. I have not tried freezing this style.

                        Purists claim that New England clam chowder should only be thickened with the starch of the potatoes cooked in the broth. They rail against roux thickened chowders. That said, the versions popular in most restaurants use a roux for thickness, and cream for richness.

                        For both of your corn and rice soups, you could try blending part of the soup, so the pureed corn and rice (respectively) provide the thickness. The unblended part gives texture. Long cooked rice will also thicken a soup. Examples of this are the Asian congee (rice porrage) and rice pudding.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: paulj

                          In "The Way to Cook," Julia Child offers a low-fat thickening strategy for vegetable cream soups that uses cooked rice blended with the soup stock. And the corn pudding that I've made as a Thanksgiving side dish is simply a mixture of canned whole-kernel and cream-style corn, cooked in a gratin with butter, salt and pepper, buttered crumbs on top. Ridiculously good - corn cans better than any other food I know - and of course it'd be better with fresh, but my point here is that corn can easily be its own best thickening agent, and doesn't break down when heated.

                        2. I use a little instant mashed potato to thicken milk-based soups. This has enabled me to make seafood chowders with 1% milk rather than cream.

                          3 Replies
                            1. re: josephlapusata

                              Potato starch is a bit more compact and maybe cheaper. I have a bag of Bob's Red Mill that's been in the fridge for at least six years, and as long as it's kept dry it's good. And it has no other ingredients, which I'd imagine the mashed potato flakes would. The VERY best thing about potato starch is that you can dump it into hot or boiling liquid and it won't lump, but simply dissolves with a bit of stirring.

                            2. re: Querencia

                              Same here. Plain, only ingredients are dehydrated potato and salt.

                            3. Thanks you for all the suggestions, it is great to have all this cooking knowledge available when you need it.

                              1. If you want a silky texture with a velvety richness you should try thickening soups (and sauces as well) using egg yolks. You have to temper them and introduce them to the hot soup/sauce mixture with great care, of course, but the results are well worth the effort.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: todao

                                  I was just going to post the question about egg yolks to thicken, how many yolks per cup of liquid?

                                  I am making cream of chicken rice today.

                                  1. re: lovescooking

                                    Egg yolk thickening might not tolerate reheating. It's best as a last minute enriching method.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      Yeah, thickening with egg yolks (called a "liason") won't tolerate freezing and reheating; your soup will break.

                                      I would suggest making your soup as usual, freezing it, and then, when you bring it to a simmer to reheat it, whisk in a mixture of equal parts flour and butter, kneaded together... It'll thicken nicely, and you won't have to worry about breakdown/separation.

                                      Other than that, I flour/butter roux is the way to go, if you're going to freeze a thickened soup.

                                      1. re: lagne

                                        Admittedly, I've never tried freezing a liaison based sauce so I can speak to that. But thanks for the data. I'll try freezing and reheating to see what I can do to get around the issues you and paulj describe. Sometimes a continuous whisk works with those kinds of problems - wish me luck.

                                        1. re: todao

                                          good luck! It would be great if it did work out; I love a liason-based sauce/soup.. so velvety.

                                          1. re: todao

                                            luck..will be waiting to hear from you.

                                  2. Use a roux and stock to make your soup (4 oz roux for every quart of liquid), then add your cream at the very end. Do not add cream to the portion you wish to freeze, wait until you thaw it out to cream that portion.

                                    1. I'm with the egg yolk method. Depending on the type of soup, 2-3 egg yolks will thicken 2 quarts. Just temper the yolks before adding them to the soup. Wouldn't freeze this as it will probably break. But it only takes a minute before serving to add the yolks so freeze the soup and thicken each batch before serving. Did this just this past weekend with cauliflower soup. Best texture compared to using potatoes or a roux. Potatoes for chowder, roux for gumbo, egg yolks for cream of veggie type soups.