How to neutralize salt in the soup? (6 ways to neutralize the soup)

In this brief guide, we will answer ‘how to neutralize salt in the soup?’ Also, we will discuss six potential ways through which you can neutralize the soup.

How to neutralize salt in the soup?

To neutralize salt in the soup, you should add more ingredients to the soup that are able to either absorb the salt, dilute the salt or mask the saltiness of the soup. Salt is necessary to compose the taste of soup, since it confers saltiness, enhances the flavor and masks eventually undesirable bitter taste in food (7). However, too much salt added to food is not only unhealthy, it is unappetizing.  

A simple method to neutralize salt in the soup is to add a few peeled potatoes into the pot you are cooking the soup in. The starch in the potatoes attracts sodium ions dispersed in the liquid (4). Remove the potatoes before it’s fully cooked in about 30 minutes. You may add a bigger cubed potato. This will increase the surface area and will get the job done within quite less time.

What is the phenomenon behind neutralizing salt in the soup?

The physical phenomenon behind the neutralization of salt in the soup is the diffusion, which is governed by Fick´s law. Diffusion is a physical phenomenon that consists of the migration of particles (which can also be atoms, molecules or ions) from regions of higher concentration of these particles to regions of lower concentration. Applied to food, the diffusion is easily noticed. 

An example is the diffusion which occurs during marinating. The molecules of salt or sugar or acid present in the marinating solution move into the meat tissue, which contains a lower concentration of these molecules. Another example is the movement of water molecules which occurs during dehydration of a fruit, which goes from a portion of higher concentration of water (the high moisture fruit) to the dry environment surrounding it (8).

Therefore, when you add a less salty ingredient into the soup, the salt in the soup will diffuse into the unsalted ingredient.

5 ways to salvage the soup if too much salt is added

5 ways to save food are as follows;

Add dairy

One of the easiest ways to salvage too much salt out of the soup. If you have dairy on hand, add a dollop of or swirl of yogurt, heavy cream, milk or sour cream before serving. This will not only tone too much salt down but also will add creaminess to the soup.

Dairy products have different buffering capacities, which allow them to absorb ions from the solutions. Milk and dairy contain many compounds, such as phosphate, citrate, lactate, carbonate, propionate, acetate, amino acids and proteins which are individually capable to act as acid-base buffers. As a result, dairy will mitigate the saltiness of the dish (5).

Coconut milk, avocado or a swirl of olive oil will serve the same purpose for vegan soups.

Add acid

Adding a small amount of acid to the soup can cancel out some of the saltiness. This will distract your taste bud by focusing on the acidity rather than the salt. You may squeeze lemon or a dash of apple cider vinegar. Even tomatoes if your dish features crushed tomatoes.

Sour and salty tastes counteract each other. That happens because, when two compounds that elicit different taste qualities are mixed in solution at moderate or strong concentrations, the mixture will often yield a taste sensation that is less intense than the simple sum of the component tastes. In two-component mixtures, each of the taste qualities is usually suppressed (perceived as less intense) than when it is tasted separately (6).

Dilute it

In case you get too excited with salt, you can always add a little bit more leftover ingredients to the soup. Just add more water or stock, more vegetables and other ingredients as per the recipe calls for. You may be left with a bit more soup than needed but at least it won’t be as salty as before.

Add some starch

In case of too much salt in the soup, you can always add some noodles to it. Just add a bit more water and your noodles. This will not only cut down the saltiness but will also thicken the soup. Starches, such as potatoes, absorb salt ions from the water (4).

Add dough balls

Back in the day, just like the potato hack, people used to put dough balls in their food too. Just get some flour and water and prepare the dough. Divide that dough into smaller balls and add in your soup. They will soak up the salt in them just like potatoes. Just remember to take them out before serving.

How to avoid adding too much salt?

To avoid adding too much salt in the soup, like all great chefs say, season gradually and taste and adjust as needed. As you can always add more but not take, you can’t make it less.

Is eating too much salt bad for your health?

Yes, eating too much salt is bad for your health. Having too much sodium in the food can lead to hypertension, enlarged heart muscle, headaches, heart failure, kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and stroke (1). 

Because of this increased risk towards so many diseases, regulations of the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom (UK) have set a limit, they recommend taking between 1500 mg or 1.5 grams to 2400 mg or 2.4 grams of sodium a day. This can be broken into (2):

For adults:

  • Eat no more than 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that’s around 1 teaspoon.

For children aged:

  • 1 to 3 years should eat no more than 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
  • 4 to 6 years should eat no more than 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
  • 7 to 10 years should eat no more than 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
  • 11 years and over should eat no more than 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Differently, the World Health Organization recommends a maximum level of intake of 2 g/day sodium in adults, or 5 g salt/day, and this should be adjusted downward based on the energy requirements of children relative to those of adults (1). There is convincing evidence that reducing salt intake will have a beneficial effect on blood pressure, thereby reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease (3).


In this brief guide, we answered  ‘how to neutralize salt in the soup?’ Also, we have discussed six potential ways through which you can neutralize the soup.

Hopefully, you found this guide helpful and informative. In case of any queries or comments, please do let us know.


  1. World Health Organization. Guideline: sodium intake for adults and children. 2012.
  2. Salt: the facts. National Health Service (NHS). 15 March 2021. 
  3. Hendriksen, Marieke AH, et al. Health gain by salt reduction in europe: a modelling study. PloS one, 2015, 10, e0118873.
  4. Cunningham, S. E., et al. Effect of processing conditions on the water absorption and texture kinetics of potato. J Food Eng, 2008, 84, 214-223.
  5. Salaün, Françoise, Bernard Mietton, and Frédéric Gaucheron. Buffering capacity of dairy products. Int Dairy J, 2005, 15, 95-109.
  6. Breslin, Paul AS. Interactions among salty, sour and bitter compounds. Trend Food Sci Technol, 1996, 7, 390-399.
  7. Doyle, Marjorie Ellin, and Kathleen A. Glass. Sodium reduction and its effect on food safety, food quality, and human health. Comprehen rev food sci food safe, 2010, 9, 44-56.
  8. Zhou, Larissa, Kendra Nyberg, and Amy C. Rowat. Understanding diffusion theory and Fick’s law through food and cooking. Adv physiol educ, 2015, 39, 192-197.