PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - MAY 05: Jacques Pepin attends the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Center on May 05, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Jacques Pépin's Favorite Shortcut To Thicken Soups
By Garth Clingingsmith
Using a roux — made by cooking wheat flour in an equal amount of oil or butter — is a common method for thickening soups, and celebrity chef Jacques Pépin started applying this method as an apprentice in French kitchens decades ago. However, in his show "More Fast Food My Way," Pépin doesn't use a traditional roux to thicken his version of cream of leek and mushroom soup.
Instead of using a roux, Pépin adds instant mashed potato flakes, which help him serve up a hearty dinner within 20 minutes. In the show, he sweats thinly sliced leeks and mushrooms for a few minutes, covers them with broth, boils them for a few minutes, and then adds the instant potatoes before bringing it all to a simmer and serving.
The mild flavor of the potato flakes can enhance almost any recipe that needs some thickening, not only potato-centric ones. Oregon State suggests using one tablespoon of potato flakes per cup of liquid, noting that instant potatoes are a good substitute for cornstarch, and there's no need to make a slurry — simply add the flakes, stir, and bring to a simmer.