Pickle Juice Is The Ingredient You Never Knew Your Soup Needed

You might be surprised to learn that sour soup is a staple food in many cultures. While you may have enjoyed a hot and sour soup from a local Chinese restaurant, there are many varieties of sour soups from around the globe. For example, in Eastern Europe, there's borscht, a cabbage and sauerkraut soup that's both sweet and sour. 

Another European soup, a traditional Polish soup called zupa ogórkowa, relies solely on pickles for its acidity. The Spruce calls it a perfect winter counterpart to summer cucumber soup since it's hearty and creamy. A similar soup in Russia, called rassolnik, is made with pickles and animal kidneys and is considered a hangover cure. 

While you might think this is a bit bizarre, it's quite common. Pickles offer a distinct flavor, along with some health benefits including supporting digestive health and soothing muscle cramps (via WIDE OPEN eats). However, you don't have to add a whole jar of pickles to your soup to reap the nutritional perks — or get the distinct flavor. 

How to improve your favorite soups with pickle juice

The next time you make your favorite soup recipe, consider adding some pickle juice, and if it's your first attempt at a tart soup — start small. You can always add more, so taste test the broth as you add the sour juice, making sure it's not becoming too sour or salty. Bon Appétit suggests replacing anywhere from ⅛ to ¼ of the liquid in your broth with pickle juice.

Pickle juice can be a good addition to soup varieties you wouldn't expect. Take matzah ball soup, for example. Many recipes for this classic Jewish soup call for dill, per serious eats, so the flavor of dill pickle brine can be a natural pairing. And you don't just have to use brine from classic dill pickles. If you're making an Italian-inspired soup, perhaps pickle juice in giardiniera will make a nice addition, or if you find spicy jalapeño pickles, the brine can add a kick of heat to the broth.

But before you break out the pickle jar, a word to the wise. If your soup has dairy in it, you should probably avoid adding pickle juice or too much of any strong acid, as it might cause your silky broth to curdle.