Say goodbye to sad, thin soup with this simple pantry item.

By Laura Fisher
March 17, 2021

While you might already be familiar with some of the genius cooking hacks to be found on the social media platform TikTok (hello perfectly roasted potatoes), you might still be in the dark about another online treasure trove of tips and tricks: Reddit. The social news platform differs from many of its counterparts with its lack of fancy graphics, and relies instead on avid users to post and vote on content. The lack of visuals can make certain content areas, such as food posts, less "viral" than platforms that use attention-grabbing videos and photos, but when you dive into the world of Reddit, it turns out there is a wealth of helpful tips and tricks for the culinary-minded. Case in point? This clever soup-thickening hack that's so simple, yet has never occurred to us before.

A poster in Reddit's cooking forum tells an all-too-familiar tale. She makes lentil soup in her Instant Pot, and despite following the directions to a T, ends up with a watery, thin finished product. Her solution? Adding plain instant mashed potatoes (which are essentially just dehydrated potato) to the finished soup recipe as a thickening agent. Simple? Yes. Incredibly effective? You bet. This trick works because the instant mashed potatoes are naturally starchy and therefore are similar in form to other commonly used thickeners, such as cornstarch, only without the clumps.

After her post went viral with 870 comments and an 85 percent upvote from community members, the original poster went back to add some additional tips. She points out that it's wise to consider what type of soup you are making before adding the dried potato. For example, a delicate miso soup might not be the right candidate, while a potato leek or cream-based soup could work perfectly. You could always test the combo out on a small portion of soup before altering your full batch, just to be on the safe side. 

Other Effective Ways to Thicken Soup

Make a Roux

While the tater hack is a good one, it's not the only way to thicken a soup. If you don't have instant mashed potatoes on hand, or are looking for another way, try making a roux by whisking a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into a little water or broth, then whisking that mixture into the soup itself. 

Give it a Whirl

Another option is to puree a few cups of the soup—broth, veggies, and anything else—and then pour it back into the main pot (you can also use an immersion blender). This will thicken the texture by way of aeration without adding anything extra.

Add Naturally Starchy Ingredients

Adding rice or lentils, for instance, will also seriously beef up a lackluster soup.

Stir in Something Creamy

Finally, you can always add yogurt, cream, or coconut milk to your soup to get that creamy, thick texture you're looking for.