How to Thicken Your Soups Without Any Dairy

How to Thicken Your Soups Without Any Dairy

Although it’s currently spring, it’s still pretty cold and wet outside. Soothing noodle soups, hearty beef and vegetables, and luscious, creamy vegetables soups — all are valid, but that last one seems to dominate once the foliage starts to change. There’s something about a velvety bowl of the stuff that screams “autumn,” and the only thing that can wreck the vibe is a watery mouthfeel.

Adding sour cream, fresh cream, butter, or a mixture of butter and flour can all help, but doing so can also mute the flavour of your vegetables — and not everyone can eat dairy. Luckily, we have many (incidentally dairy-free ways) to make sure your soups get the body they deserve.

Thicken your soups with vegetables (and fat)

The easiest way to thicken a creamy vegetable soup is to utilise the vegetables themselves. Blending a portion of the cooked veggies adds body without diluting the flavour, since the flavour is the vegetable. Leeks, with their high levels of fibre and pectin, work particularly well.

If you want to make your soup extra silky, make sure to provide a source of fat for the vegetables to emulsify with. Butter, olive oil, rendered poultry fat — all of these things will work; aim for a ratio of 1/2 cup for every four servings of soup. Cook the vegetables in that fat, until the vegetables are completely soft. Add the broth or stock, bring it to a boil, let cook for a few minutes, then blend until no discernible chunks of veg remain. Need a recipe to get you going? Try this one.

Add mashed potatoes

Starch is a very efficient thickening agent, and potatoes are full of it. Both leftover mashed potatoes and instant mashed potatoes can be used to thicken soups and stews — just blend ‘em up with the liquid portion.

If using leftover mashed potatoes, follow this procedure (which we have covered before):

Use about a cup of cold mashers for every cup of broth, and puree it into the broth with an immersion blender before bringing it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add cheese if you like, and cook until your soup is velvety and smooth.

If not working with a clear broth to begin with, or are using instant mashed potatoes, just add spoonfuls of the mash (or potato flakes), pureeing in between each addition with an immersion blender until you reach the viscosity you desire.

Bean it up

Beans are incredible little guys, full of fibre and protein and flavour, and they read as creamy, rather than bean-y, when blended. White beans are particularly smooth. Take a can of cannellini or other similar beans, blend one cup, then add the bean puree to your soup. Simmer, stir, and serve. Repeat all soup season until you’ve had your fill.

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