How to Prevent Curdling of Sour Cream in Soups and Sauces

Given the weather and the general mood, I suspect many of you have gone into soup mode (with the exception of our editor-in-chief Jordan Calhoun, the slightly misguided man who claims that soup is “not food”). Soup mode is good, as is its cousin, cream sauce mode, a mode that makes you want to drown proteins and vegetables in a juicy sauce, often milk-based, and pile all this porridge on noodles or rice. In both modes, it is useful to add a little sour cream (or crème fraîche), but there is a correct way to do this.

Adding a spoonful of daisies to a soup or beef stroganoff sauce is an easy way to give it a juicy, creamy texture, but adding cold sour cream to a large pot of bubbling hot soup or a pot of sauce can cause the proteins to curdle, curdle the cream, and make the dish unattractive. kind. But there is an easy way to avoid all this. You just have to temper.

What is tempering?

Tempering is the slow addition of a hot ingredient to a cold one to raise its temperature and make it more compatible with the dish as a whole. This is usually done when adding eggs to custard and pastry creams (to keep them from whipping), but it’s just as valuable for comforting savory dishes. (Don’t confuse this with chocolate tempering, a method in which chocolate is heated and cooled to stabilize fat, give it a shiny appearance, and prevent graying .)

How to harden

Take a heatproof bowl and add the cold ingredient to it. Slowly add a couple of small ladles of soup or sauce, one at a time, to the cold ingredient, whisking quickly to combine. Then add the tempered mixture back to the large pot of soup or sauce, whisking again until a smooth, creamy mass is obtained.


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