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The Soup Thickener You've Probably Never Thought Of

There’s a secret ingredient in this split pea soup that you've probably never considered before.

Ham and Split Pea Soup

Photo by PAMELA

The Soup?
Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Bacon
The Secret Ingredient?
Frozen Hash Browns.

A Cook's Trick
When I cooked in restaurant kitchens, I had a little trick to quickly thicken creamy soups (or, really, any soup that didn't need a clear broth): leftover mashed potatoes. Think about it—they’re flavorful, already creamy, and they disappear in a substantive soup.

Of course, leftover mashers are pretty rare at home. And making them just for soup is a bit more than I’m willing to do.

But frozen hash browns? I've got those chilling away as we speak.

How Does It Work?
Frozen hash browns are actually pre-cooked—frying them is done to thaw, heat, and brown them, not cook them through. So when those cooked-but-frozen little pieces of potato are slowly cooked in a soup, they’re going to break down and thicken up that soup like nobody’s business.

Use A Slow Cooker
Or, at least, make sure you cook them very, very slowly on the stove top. Don’t expect the potatoes to break down in anything that cooks quickly. In that case, you just get potato in your soup. But the slow cooker, that's a sure-fire way to get those starchy, twice-cooked potatoes to break down.

The results?
A thicker, heartier flavor that stands up to any form of cold, short of an Antarctic winter.

What Soups Do They Work In?
Give them a shot in any soup or stew you're putting in the slow cooker (or cooking slowly nearly all day) that might need something extra to thicken it up. Beyond split pea, give this trick a shot in a corn chowder, a veggie stew, or even a slow cooker chili.

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About Noel Christmas

Noel would really like that with some extra ranch dressing on it.