The Spicy, Versatile Ingredient That Will Save Bland Soup

Bowl of soup with chili oil drizzle
Bowl of soup with chili oil drizzle - Dementieva Iryna/Shutterstock

Most people would agree that soup is an all-weather staple meal that can satisfy hunger cravings and provide wholesome nutrition in equal measure. Fortunately, there are also seemingly endless varieties of soups that you can make at home, along with nearly as many tips for making soup like a professional chef. Yet, if you still miss the mark and end up with a big pot of bland soup, is there anything you can do to bring it to life?

The puzzle of how to enliven the flavor of bland soup has an easy solution. You only need one simple, spicy, and versatile ingredient -- chili oil. This condiment has long been a staple in Asian cooking, yet its versatility means it can be used to add flavor to many dishes. Chili oil can add color and flavor to instant ramen and is an excellent option for frying eggs. As impressively, you can use chili oil to zhuzh up the flavor profile of an otherwise bland soup.

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How Chili Oil Can Elevate Your Bland Soup

Bowl of soup with spices
Bowl of soup with spices - Anna_Pustynnikova/Shutterstock

For the uninitiated, chili oil is a spicy mix of neutral cooking oil and chili pepper flakes -- gochugaru (Korean) pepper flakes can color the oil red; ground Sichuan peppercorns give it kick -- with a few flavor-enhancing aromatics thrown as preferred. This simple but effective list of ingredients gives chili oil its spicy and very flavorful profile that can enhance food by adding both heat and depth.

Chili oil's richness and versatility make it a good accompaniment to noodles, rice, and curry dishes as well as eggchukas, pizzas, and pasta. Interestingly, chilis also offer health benefits including reducing inflammation and boosting metabolism because of the capsaicin in chili peppers.

The liquid consistency of chili oil makes it particularly well-adapted to be added to soups of all kinds, from clear soups to creamy soups such as tomato or white bean soup to hearty lentil soup, and even simple vegetable soups. All you need to do is drizzle a generous amount of chili oil on your soup once it is ready to serve and mix in well. If you don't have chili oil on hand, you could also replace it with hot sauce which will add extra acidity to elevate your soup further.

Make Your Own Chili Oil And Keep It Handy

Chili oil in a jar
Chili oil in a jar - Vm2002/Getty Images

If you like the spiciness that chili oil adds to your bland soups, you may want to keep a jar on hand for frequent use in other dishes as well. Whether you opt for a store-bought chili oil or to make it at home, the oil should stored in a clean, dry jar or airtight container. Chili oil will last at room temperature for up to three months, and in the refrigerator for up to six months.

A drizzle of traditional chili oil can boost the flavor of any number of dishes, dipping sauces for appetizers, in stir-fries, as a marinade for meats and vegetables, and to spice up a sushi roll. You can also use different chilis to make flavorful variations of chili oil, including garlic chili oil, Chinese chili oil, and Japanese chili oil. When it comes to kick-starting flavor in bland soup or other meh-tasting dishes, there isn't much spicy yet versatile chili oil can't improve.

Read the original article on Daily Meal