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Burnt the meat? Too much salt? Tips for culinary emergencies

So you’ve gone and boiled the vegetables to death? Or maybe you’ve left the pasta in too long. Or accidentally emptied the salt shaker into the pot.

You haven’t done anything different – but for some reason, everything’s gone wrong this time. Oh well, don’t despair – there’s nearly always a way of fixing kitchen mishaps.

So, what should you do when:

  • your soup is too thin?

“If it’s a clear soup then it’s easy, you reduce it by boiling. If the meat or vegetables are already in you have to take them out again,” says German television chef Martina Meuth.

If it’s a creamy soup then adding a potato can work wonders. “Either stir in some potato puree or grate in some potato,” Meuth advises. You can also try kneading some butter with flour and then stirring it in, bit by bit. But make sure you do the kneading – otherwise, you’ll get lumps.

  • your soup or sauce is too salty?

The first thing to do is thin it out. “That way you spread the salt out over a larger quantity,” says Meuth. If the bottom fell off the grinder and way too much salt went in, a potato can help again, says Meuth, “because potatoes soak up lots of salt.”

While she suggests simply grating in a potato, others suggest putting a peeled potato into the mixture and taking it out again when you’ve finished cooking.

  • you’ve got lumps in your soup or sauce?

“You have to get busy with your blending stick. That will get rid of any lumps,” says Meuth. But if you want to avoid lumps in the first place then go back to mixing butter and flour together to a paste before adding it to the soup. It’s called “beurre manie” and is the best way of thickening sauces, she says.

Unfortunately, nothing can be done here other than to cut the burnt bits off. “And do it properly,” says Meuth, explaining that the burnt bits can leave a nasty taste behind. “It has to come off!”

  • you’ve boiled the vegetables to death?

“Don’t cry too long over it,” says Meuth. “Make a soup out of it.” Simply puree the vegetables and add a dash of cream and a bit of stock in order to achieve the desired consistency.

  • you’ve overcooked the pasta?

If the pasta is too soft Meuth suggests making a frittata out of it. Beat some eggs, stir them into the pasta, season, add a couple of stock cubes and fry on both sides. Cut into pieces like a cake and serve it with a green salad on the side.

  • the sauce is too spicy?

If you’ve added a bit too much chili, the old trick of increasing the overall amount of sauce can work here too. If not you could try combating the heat with sour flavors, ideally a squeeze of lime juice, or with sweet, such as a pinch of sugar or a spoonful of honey.