This One Ingredient Can Save an Over-Salted Soup, According to Julia Child

·2 min read

With her 1963 television debut, Julia Child basically reshaped the way we learn how to cook. She taught audiences about every major cooking skill, from chopping veggies to spatchcocking a chicken, and encouraged amateur cooks to be brave in the kitchen (and never be ashamed to make a mistake!).

In fact, Child was so attuned to the common hiccups of home cooking that she had all kinds of tips and tricks to cross those hurdles—including foolproof methods for boiling eggs, using up that extra summer produce and even correcting an over-salted soup.

A portrait of Julia Child next to an illustration of a pot of soup with salt pouring into it
A portrait of Julia Child next to an illustration of a pot of soup with salt pouring into it

Getty Images / Rick Friedman / Art Alex / Diane Labombarbe

Child's solution was to peel and quarter a raw potato, then drop it into your soup pot for several minutes, depending on how hot your soup is. The potato acts like an edible sponge, and if you take the potato pieces out with a slotted spoon before they disintegrate into the soup, you'll end up with potatoes that have soaked up your salty broth (plus a pot of soup that's much easier to dilute). It's just as easy as removing some of the over-salted soup from the pot, but without all the unnecessary waste.

Simply add more liquid and spices to your pot and use that boiled potato as the base for another delicious dish, like some classic mashed potatoes or crispy mashed potato balls. No food waste and delicious soup? Sounds like a win-win to us.

If you don't have a potato on hand, you could borrow Wolfgang Puck's go-to method and add a dairy product, like milk, cream or sour cream, to tamp down the saltiness. Or if you're dealing with other dishes, like seafood or pasta, try these more specific tips from Food & Wine.

Want some more Julia Child-approved kitchen hacks? There's a whole slew of them in her seminal cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking (buy it: $24, Barnes & Noble).