General Question

gimmedat's avatar

Is there some secret ingredient I've left out of my chicken soup that adds flavor?

Asked by gimmedat (3951points) January 18th, 2009 from iPhone

I followed a copycat recipe of my favorite chicken soup from the restaurant Carrabba’s. I realized that the recipe probably wouldn’t turn out soup that tasted exactly like my favorite, but I expected closer than I’ve managed. The soup tastes good, but I’m missing something. I have noticed that 1) my soup is a lighter orange than the restaurant’s and 2) the restaurant’s soup has a nice spicy hint with every bite. Any idea what I might be missing? I’ve already included: carrots, celery, onion, garlic, plum tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, bell pepper, the hen, and all kinds of wonderful spices. What am I missing, what would add more flavor?

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32 Answers

asmonet's avatar

Pssst, which spices have you used?

lataylor's avatar

I would add a little chicken

eambos's avatar

I usually add a little chicken stock for a more intense chickeny flavor.

asmonet's avatar

@lataylor: She said she put a hen in there, already. She doesn’t need another chicken. :)

gimmedat's avatar

Oregano, Italian seasoning, sage, rosemary, thyme, ground and fresh parsley, and a little bit of whatever else came with the spice rack.

gimmedat's avatar

@lataylor, what asmonet said.

Mtl_zack's avatar

Add all the ingredients whole, not chopped up, first of all. Second, are you adding enough oil? I think not. Also, add more fresh parsley, rosemary and sage. There is no need for the Italian seasoning and oregano, it just takes away from the other spices. You can try adding an apple, without the core, but I don’t usually like it like that.

Make sure that you add many many noodles.

gimmedat's avatar

I am letting the soup sit overnight, and will add the pasta tomorrow when I reheat it. Great suggestions, zack!! I don’t mean to sound stupid, but here goes. Is chicken stock the same as chicken broth?

asmonet's avatar

@gimmedat: Seems well, obvious, but wouldn’t ground pepper help? You’re trying to get that spicy hint, but you didn’t mention pepper at all in your list.

gimmedat's avatar

Oh yeah, salt and fresh ground pepper, they’re already there.

asmonet's avatar

@gimmedat: Quick definitions of broth and stock from wiki for ya:

Broth is very similar to stock, and often the terms are used interchangeably. Usually, broth refers to finished product while stock is used as an ingredient (thus stock may become broth). Other times, broth is used to refer to a liquid made in the same way as stock but meat is substituted for bones. However, with some stock/broth made from vegetables and some made from both bones and meat, this cannot be considered a hard-and-fast rule.

Today, ready-made stock and stock cubes consisting of dried, compressed stock ingredients are readily available. These are commonly known as bouillon cubes (or oxo cubes, after a common brand of stock cube sold in Britain) or cooking base.

asmonet's avatar

Maybe you could ask the waiter next time you go to find out ‘what that delicious spicy taste is from’ in the dish? Doesn’t help you now but generally I’ve found restaurants to be pretty willing to give up a few ingredients I was curious about.

gimmedat's avatar

Thanks. I am trying to become some kind of chef, I’ll get there.

What’s funny is that I actually know the proprietor of our local Carrabba’s, but I feel dumb asking him about how to make the soup. It’s like I don’t want to put him on the spot and have him sell-out on some deeply held soup secret.

asmonet's avatar

Haha, nah, you should totally ask him. :)
And then tell us. Oh no!

aprilsimnel's avatar

Coriander? Cilantro or cumin, maybe? Those are “spicy”. But, yes, please ask and do tell us.

Darwin's avatar

Also paprika adds more orange color and a spicy flavor to soups. Cayenne will, too, but can make the soup downright hot.

Achiote will also add an orange color.

There is also a recipe for Carrabba’s soup at and another one at

And finally, I find many restaurant dishes are made with much more salt than I would use at home.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’m just wild about saffron!

asmonet's avatar

Saffron is mad about me.

susanc's avatar

Looks to me like you omitted garlic and chilies. Both of those pep things up.
I can’t figure out why the orangeness is dim, unless they use more carrots/tomatoes than you do.
I strongly concur with zack on the overdeployment of randomized herbs & spices; you’re cancelling stuff out as well as duplicating (Italian seasoning if you’re already putting oregano and thyme in is kind of silly, you see?). You might be happier if you made a decision instead of firing all the cannons at once. That’s for people who don’t know the difference between one herb and the next. Not you.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

If chicken soup is flat, it usually needs salt.

cyndyh's avatar

I was gonna say salt, too. You would be surprised at how much salt is in things you don’t make yourself.

As for the orangeness, paprika will give you a reddish orange. Turmeric and/or mustard powder give more of a deep orange. Taste some of your spices in small amounts on the back of a spoon. See if one of those seem like they’d work. I’d go easy on either one.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some spices take longer to cook in than others do. So, you don’t want to over shoot and then end up with too much going on. If you add enough to taste everything right away, it’s going to taste too strong with something or another after it cooks for a while.

gimmedat's avatar

@susanc, thanks for the benefit of the doubt, but I really have no idea what I’m doing. I can read a recipe, and that’s about it.

answerjill's avatar

I would add some fresh dill!

fireside's avatar

I didn’t see crushed rosemary mentioned anywhere.

Also, when I make chicken soup in the summertime, i like to add some lemon zest and squeeze out the juice.

gailcalled's avatar

Usually, the quality of chicken soup depends on the quality of the chicken. Today’s poultry, by and large, are cooped up, fed only corn and are clinically depressed.

Traditionally, one boiled a contented hen (with feet and neck) with carrots, onions, celery, parsnips and a litttle salt and pepper. Try to find a kosher, free-range chicken. Dill works if the chicken is pathetic; so does a little Tamari or Bragg.

Less is more. (And 1 T of white vinegar to leach the calcium from the bones.)

vanslonski's avatar

“they call me Mellow Yellow, {quite right}”
No, really NO ONE Thought of this.
I’m Polish. My Polish sir name means “of the Elephants”.
We don’t forget.
Listen up. Put a nice ample sprinkling of “Caraway Seed”
into your chicken soup recipe. It livens it up, puts hair on your chest and clears your nasal sinuses. It will make chicken soup a meal in it’s self. Really!! MMMmmm Gooood!! Like my polish mom used to make!! A few soda crackers are an added garnish. Don’t skimp on the chicken meat either. Who wants chicken soup with a tidbit of chicken? Heap it on!! Hunks baby, HUNKERS!! A couple of slices of some good polish rye bread, with margerine, or your favorite jam, is a sweet accompaniment too. Along with a healthy snifter of some good Brandy, You are all set!! Cures Rickets, insomnia, Warts, Herpes simplex 2, Frigitidy, Busheshero complex, nearsightedness, hemoroids, upset tummy, whooping cough, post-nasal drip, droppsy, cancer, emphesyma, sore throat-due to cold, dandruff, Rosacia, Flat feet, Frozen Shouler [adhesive capsulitus], Ciirhosis, Pancreatitus, Heart Murmur, Depression, Bipolar disorder, Szitzophrenia, Hallusionations, Suicidal tendencies, Dissasociated personalities, Presedential Aspirations, Congressional Leisions, Kidneny Dialasis syndrome, High school drop-outs, Delinquency, Alcoholism, Heroine addiction, Cocain cravings, Crack heads, Bad trips, Head on collisions, A Rainy Day!! All, with the wonderful little crescent shaped “Caraway Seed” added to your chicken soup recipe. Try it, You’ll Like It!!
Polska Yak She mash!!

asmonet's avatar

Caraway seed cures high school drop-outs? Who knew?

Sweet Jesus just stop.

Blondesjon's avatar

Brown the hell out of your chicken before you add it to the water. This will give you a richer broth and a deeper color. Frying works, but 5–7 minutes per side under the broiler works better. The secret is to get the skin on the chicken dark quickly.

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