Vegetable soup can be intensely flavorful, or it can be very much on the mild side where most of the flavor comes from the vegetables rather than seasonings. If you would prefer something with more flavor, you can get it by using the right seasonings. Here are some of the best spices for vegetable soup:
The flavors of vegetable soup can be quite complex, but onion should always be one of them. You can use any of the several different kinds of onion in your vegetable soup. They will provide different versions of the familiar savory, astringent flavor.
For example, green onions will be more herbaceous and assertive. In contrast, a yellow onion will have its astringency balanced out by a sweetness that will become stronger the longer it is cooked. In all cases, onions pair well with other seasonings and with the vegetables in the soup.
Celery is another highly aromatic herb that can supply not just a pungent herbaceousness to your vegetable soup but a distinctive umami quality as well. Celery plays an essential part in the vegetable soup flavor profile. Celery pairs well with other savory soup herbs and seasonings while also enhancing the vegetables.
To get the full effect of celery, it is a good idea to add it in two parts. Had half at the beginning of the cooking time and again closer to the end. This captures the herb’s flavor at two different points in the cooking process, which results in a flavor profile that is layered and complex.
Garlic is the seasoning that you want for all your savory vegetable preparations, including vegetable soup. Garlic is an Allium like onion and offers a strong flavor and aroma like onion. Garlic is known for being earthy and pungent, especially in its raw form, but it can mellow out and become nutty when cooked.
You can use fresh garlic cloves in vegetable soup, or you can opt for dried and powdered garlic in the form of garlic powder.
The leaf of the bay laurel tree is a staple herb that you see used in stews, soups, and other braised dishes that get cooked for long periods. When cooked extensively, it can impart an intense savory flavor with elements of tea and eucalyptus. There is also a hint of thyme to help round out its herbal notes.
Bay leaves should be removed from the vegetable soup before serving partly because they are stiff and do not soften even after being cooked for many hours. Another reason is that they can over-flavor a dish and make it unpalatable.
Like bay leaves, oregano is an extremely savory herb with eucalyptus notes and a mild bitterness that works best in soups and stews. It is pungent and can stand up to long cooking times. Add it early in the process so that its aggressive flavors can mellow out and meld with other vegetable soup ingredients.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Derived from seaweed, MSG is used to enhance meaty, brothy flavors in dishes like vegetable soup. It is slightly salty but gives a powerful umami profile to the dishes in which it is used.
Tomatoes show up in many vegetable soup recipes and are good sources of glutamates, but few natural sources can surpass the concentrated dose of umami that you get with pure MSG crystals.