Solutions for Everyday Kitchen Mistakes

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The Most Common Cooking Mistakes

Learn how to avoid these common mistakes for success every time.

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How to Skim Grease Off Soup
Photo: Brian Woodcock

48. Your Soup Sports an Oil Slick

When a bowl of soup leaves lips as slick as if they'd just been slathered with balm, it's a bummer. This problem occurs most often with brothy, meaty soups, such as chicken noodle and beef barley. Fat from the meat—along with oil or butter used to sauté the veggies—rises as the broth simmers. The problem comes when this fat isn't removed. But even if you stand with your skimming spoon at the ready or try the messy and potentially scalding trick of dabbing the surface with a paper towel, you may still leave enough grease there to annoy.

The solution: Skim smarter. Move the soup pot halfway off the burner every 15 minutes or so, and skim from the edge that's tilted off the heat. Impurities and fat gather at the coolest spot—in this case, the side of the pan off the burner. Tilt the pan slightly as you skim to avoid taking off too much broth. Simmer the soup gently, and never boil: That just churns fat into the broth, making an oily, unappetizing emulsion. If time allows, chill the soup overnight. Fat will solidify on top; simply spoon it off before you reheat.

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