How to counteract too much vinegar in soup? (9 ways)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How to counteract too much vinegar in soup?”. We will share some tips that will help you counteract too much vinegar in soup.

How to counteract too much vinegar in soup? 

If you discover that you have mistakenly added too much vinegar to your soup, and are desperately searching for ways to counteract it, do not fret, here we have prepared a long list of ways to help you counteract too much vinegar in soup, and to make it suitable to serve.

  • Sprinkle in some sugar
  • Add some amount of salt
  • Increase the recipe
  • Dilute the soup 
  • Add baking soda
  • Add more green vegetables  
  • Add cream or mayonnaise 
  • Add more chilli 
  • Add papaya

Vinegar is extensively used as a preservative, flavoring agent, and in some countries even as a healthy drink. Although vinegar is mostly consumed in the food and beverage industry, it also finds applications in the healthcare and cleaning industry. The global vinegar market has reached values worth around USD 1.26 billion in 2017 growing at a rate of 2.1 % during 2010-2017 and is further expected to reach a value of around USD 1.50 Billion by 2022 (1). 

Vinegar 

Vinegar is an acidic liquid that principally comprises water and acetic acid. It adds a strong and tart flavour to soups, sauces and other dishes. 

In the production of vinegar, the first fermentation is an alcoholic fermentation and transforms sugars or processed starches into ethanol. This process is performed by yeast, mostly from the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae, although some other species can also perform the alcoholic fermentation, partially or totally. The final result is considered the substrate of the second transformation, to convert ethanol to acetic acid (1).

If you have accidentally added a lot of vinegar to your soup, the bold taste of vinegar will decrease the flavours of other ingredients in your soup. You can solve this problem in multiple ways that will help to counteract too much vinegar in your soup.

Ways to counteract vinegar in the soup

Sprinkle in some sugar

Adding a tsp of sugar or any other sweetener to counterbalance the acidity of the vinegar is also a good option, especially if your soup is composed of sweet vegetables like carrots or pumpkin. Sugar can effectively balance out the acidic flavours giving a well-balanced flavour profile. 

Sugar can buffer the stimulation of acetic acid and improve the taste and flavor of vinegar (2). Suppression or partial masking of sourness regularly occurs in complex food systems. It is well known that sweeteners constitute one of the most effective masking agents for sourness. Sweeteners are combined in the formulations of acidified foods to achieve optimum taste, while maintaining the desired pH (3).

Just add sugar gradually, tasting after every addition to make sure that your soup does not get extra sweet.

Add cream or mayonnaise 

Drain your soup well and stir it with a few tbsp of cream or mayonnaise to neutralize the extra acidic flavour of the vinegar in your soup. Some kinds of vinegar can be extremely acidic, so adjust accordingly.

According to studies, fats modify responsiveness to others taste compounds by physical processes, i.e., fat may act as 1) a stimulus for salivation and thereby dilute stimulus concen-trations; 2) a barrier that impedes access of taste molecules to their respective receptors or channels; or 3) a modulator of taste compound partitioning and effective concentration (4).

Increase the recipe

A great way to counteract too much vinegar in your food is to increase the portion size of the recipe by adding more of what you are cooking. Make a fresh batch of your recipe, double the ingredients without multiplying the vinegar. Making an extra amount of soup will balance the intensity of the vinegar. 

Dilute the soup 

You can quickly fix too much vinegar in your soup by adding water. The water will neutralize the excess vinegar, helping you save your dish. Try the following methods to neutralise vinegar with dilution:

Water-based soup can be diluted by adding water while milk or cream-based soup can be diluted by adding milk or cream. Just make sure to add slowly, making half-cup additions each time, until you attain the taste and texture you desire.

Add in some cold water to your soup and allow it to boil to lessen the overall liquid back to the desired quantity.

You may need to re-season your soup with some herbs and fresh spices after diluting to have a well-balanced flavour.

Sourness is due to the presence of undissociated organic acids, which convey a feeling of acidity varying in intensity, and often associated with other sensory perceptions (taste and/or trigeminal sensations). In vinegar, the acid taste comes from the influence of all the acid species present in the product that contribute to the fixed acidity (mainly malic acid, tartaric acid, succinic acid, citric acid, gluconic acid, lactic acid) and acetic acid (the most intense) also responsible for the pungency of volatile acidity (5). By diluting or adding more ingredients, the acid concentration in the solution decreases, and the acid taste is reduced.

Add more vegetables 

Add chopped leafy green vegetables to the soup. Vegetables will add their own flavour and will also absorb some of the flavours from the dish, helping you neutralize the excess vinegar. 

Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, beans and corn are particularly useful for counterbalancing strong acidic tastes. You can also add mild vegetables, for instance, cauliflower. 

Add more chilli 

Chilli heat works well with bitterness, so adding hot sauce, cayenne or chilli powder is another potential strategy to counteract too much vinegar in your soup. Apart from its compatibility with vinegar, the hot and earthy flavouring will also help balance any added sugar.

Acids can be neutralized by capsaicin, which is the alkaloid that gives pungency to chili. People often add vinegar or other acid condiments to spicy food, or collocate with yogurt (containing lactic acid) and other sweet/sour beverages (containing citric acid). These examples are all based on the principle of acid-base neutralization (8).

Add baking soda 

Counterbalance the vinegar chemically by mixing in a pinch of baking soda at a time,  depending on the size of your batch of soup. 

Baking soda is a powerful base, or alkaline, ingredient and will transform some of the vinegar to CO2. The bubbles indicate the visible impact of the baking soda. Taste the soup after stirring in each pinch and repeat until the flavours are well-balanced. 

When an alkaline ingredient, such as sodium bicarbonate is dissolved in water, it ionizes and forms HCO3− ions which then react with H+ ions from the acids. Its use in food is because of their nature to react with acids such as vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and bacterial acids forming carbon dioxide (6).

Tip: Always work carefully when trying to counteract something in a dish. Add small portions of the balancing ingredients and mix well before tasting. 

Add some amount of salt

You can also add small quantities of salt to counteract the acidic flavour of vinegar. Salty and sour flavours are interpreted by the same area of our brain, and adding one undermines the brain’s capability to recognise the other. Salt can also be combined with sugar to increase the effect.

When two compounds are mixed, there is potential for one compound to interfere with taste receptor cells or taste transduction mechanisms associated with another compound. For example, this type of peripheral interaction occurs between sodium salts and certain bitter compounds. Sodium salts suppress the bitterness of selected compounds (7).

Other FAQs about Vinegar that you may be interested in.

Can you leave apple cider vinegar on your face overnight?

How to counteract too much vinegar in the potato salad?

Can you be allergic to vinegar?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “How to counteract too much vinegar in soup?”. We have shared a few tips that will definitely help you counteract too much vinegar in soup.

References

  1. Callejón, Raquel M., et al. General overview of the product. Vinegar. Handbook on Food Authenticity Issues and Related Analytical Techniques. 
  2. Zhang, Bo, et al. Effects of organic acids, amino acids and phenolic compounds on antioxidant characteristic of Zhenjiang aromatic vinegar. Molecules, 2019, 24, 3799.
  3. Savant, Lotika, and Mina R. McDaniel. Suppression of sourness: a comparative study involving mixtures of organic acids and sugars. Percept psychophys, 2004, 66, 642-650.
  4. Mattes, Richard D. Effects of linoleic acid on sweet, sour, salty, and bitter taste thresholds and intensity ratings of adults. Am J Physiol-Gastro Liver Physiol, 2007, 292, G1243-G1248.
  5. Lemmetti, Federico, et al. Sensory analysis of traditional balsamic vinegars: current state and future perspectives. Acetic Acid Bacteria, 2014, 3.  
  6. Madeswaran, Sathyasree, and Sivakumar Jayachandran. Sodium bicarbonate: A review and its uses in dentistry. Ind J Dental Res, 2018, 29, 672.
  7. Keast, Russell SJ, and Paul AS Breslin. An overview of binary taste–taste interactions. Food qual prefer, 2003, 14, 111-124.
  8. Xiang, Qunran, et al. Capsaicin—the spicy ingredient of chili peppers: A review of the gastrointestinal effects and mechanisms. Trends Food Sci Technol, 2021, 116, 755-765.