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can you help me jazz up a soup recipe?

Yesterday I made a Southwestern chicken soup. It was basically chicken broth with onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper, cilantro,
2 tablespoons lime juice, diced avocado, bits of tomato, white rice, rotisserie chicken and Old Northern beans. The only other seasoning was 1/4 teaspoon of cumin. Before I served it I added an additional 1/4 teaspoon cumin to the soup and a bit more lime juice yet it did not have much of a taste to it, though it looked beautiful. Can you tell me what seasoning you would add to this soup to make it more flavorful without it being overpowering? The last thing that I want is for it to taste like a watered down chicken chili. Thank you so much! Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.

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  1. I think
    It needs some jalapeƱo, some ancho or other chile, and more salt.

    1. Some chicken bullion (sp?).
      When my chicken based soups need flavor it does the trick. Do that or salt (not both or it will be too much). I find that the bullion gives a punch that salt just doesn't do on it's own.

      Play around with a small bowlful of your soup so if it doesn't give the desired effect the pot won't suffer.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ncghettogourmet

        Agree with the bouillon. Sometimes I will use it if a soup or rice dish just doesn't have enough flavor.

        Also when making Spanish rice, I will add tomato paste instead of fresh tomato or sauce and it gives it a heartier tomato flavor.

        You could try pureeing a charred/roasted fresh pepper and add that. Skin and seed it first.

        Some Mexican oregano.

        1. re: ncghettogourmet

          I agree that it sounds like what's lacking is more chicken flavor, but once I discovered Better than Bouillon bases, I never again considered using bouillon cubes, which are more salt than chicken. BTB is salty too, but a lot more authentic tasting than bouillon cubes. BTB (sold in American supermarkets) also comes in a reduced sodium version, which is still plenty salty but a good alternative for those of us who don't want to use a lot of salt.

          1. re: greygarious

            I strengthen my chicken soup with a little Better than Boullion too, but it does contain a lot of sodium and some sweeteners. I find the beef flavored sort a wash for sodium and sugar. The chicken flavor does impart good chicken flavor, but don't salt the broth after you add it, until you taste it.

            1. re: greygarious

              I use BTB soup base rather than broth most of the time. It has more punch and helps get the needed salt into the soup. I would add some sort of chilis and maybe a small amount of brown sugar unless it is already bordering on being sweet.

          2. I would just add toppings to each serving vs the entire pot.

            Some finely minced red onion, fresh cilantro, lots of black pepper or some hot sauce, a pinch of salt and more fresh lime juice.

            1. I would try a can or two of stewed tomatoes and a healthy amount of Cholula or other similar hot sauce. You could also add just a bit of worcestershire sauce -- not too much. It will add a bit of body and an umami that may help to bind the flavors together. If you can get some Better than Boullion, that adds some good chicken flavor as well. Let us know what you end up doing and how it worked out!!

              1. chilis! That soup is calling for them.

                1. For making it in the future, I would make sure to saute the onions first, until soft and starting to brown. Then the minced garlic, but not for too long, so it doesn't get bitter. Then I'd add the chicken stock, making sure it's good quality (ideally, made from the carcass of the rotisserie chicken, with lots of skin and the pan juices). Use good tomatoes, and if the fresh ones aren't great, I'd used canned ones instead. Let the tomatoes and chicken and beans and white rice simmer for a while.

                  For the cumin - if the cumin is a bit old, I'd add more, or better yet, toast the cumin seeds and grind them before adding.

                  Lime juice and cilantro right at the end, so it's still bright and fresh tasting. I might add a few dashes of chipotle tabasco - I find it adds a bit of depth and zing without being overpowering.

                  And more salt.

                  1. Pureed caramelized onions, diced roasted tomatoes, diced roasted tomatillos, corn niblets, and then add some crushed corn tortilla chips to the soup and bring it back to a gentle boil. Serve.

                    1. Roasted jalapeno or poblano chiles, chopped up fine, will add great flavor. I often make a soup such as you describe, can't imagine it without the chiles. I always use at least a tablespoon of cumin - one-half of a teaspoon is like using none at all. Then again, I do like the flavor of cumin - lots of it. You might also skip the rice and beans. Using raw chicken on the bone and poaching it in the broth first before adding everything else will up the flavor considerably. And I second Ipsedixit's recommendation of fire-roasted tomatoes. And SALT!

                      As others have pointed out, the avocado and lime juice are better added as a garnish, perhaps along with some shredded or crumbled cheese and/or sour cream, and maybe even some tortilla strips that have been freshly fried.

                      1. Some chunky salsa (bottled works great), smoked paprika, and chicken base if still needed at this point.

                        1. If you need stronger chicken flavor a little Better Than Bullion goes a long way. If you use roasted garlic, it will have a nice flavor. I'd use a squirt of siracha or a bit of the spicy adobo from a can of chipotle peppers to spice it up a bit -- add a little then taste. Another option is to add powdered chiles (not chilli powder) to the rice when cooking it; powdered chipotle is great for this.

                          1. Add some Spicy V8 juice

                            1. Smoked Paprika. Give it a smokey flavor without adding heat.