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Any Hope for an Inexpensive Burned Soup?

I burned about 3 gallons of cabbage soup.

Our condolences. Thank heavens it was cabbage soup and not 3 gallons of truffle soup or 3 gallons of saffron soup.

We assume rather than simply announcing your misfortune to the world, you are asking what can be done to save your soup. We get fervent emails from people who swear they have saved a burned soup or stew by adding a little sugar or a little lemon juice. "God bless 'em," we say, echoing the immortal words of Tiny Tim. If their soups were only ever-so-slightly burned and/or their taste buds ever-so-slightly dull, then perhaps they were able to passably salvage their soups.

We remain of the opinion, though, that 3 gallons of burned soup is 3 gallons of burned soup, and however much we dislike throwing out food, nothing is going to fix it and it should be thrown out or fed to the pigs (if you keep pigs).

Everyone who cooks more than once or twice a year has burned something — sometimes it's something expensive, the main course for an important dinner party, or the last scrap of food in the house. Very often — at least with the benefit of hindsight — it's just an inconvenient learning experience. With a little embellishment, you may be able to turn it into a terribly witty story for your next important dinner party.

There are three things you can do going forward to keep from burning more food:

  • resist the urge to speed things up by using high heat settings
  • use good, heavy pans that protect your food from direct heat
  • keep a watchful eye on what you're cooking — stir it, add water/stock/etc., adjust the heat. You can't save the soup if you're not paying attention to it.

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