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Replacement for "Cream of Whatever" Soups in Recipes?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 04, 2011 at 3:22 AM

My brother and I were talking about eating more paleo and low-carb, and he mentioned that one thing he has trouble with is making meat dishes like casseroles without some sort of canned soup like cream of mushroom to sort of hold it all together. That's how we learned to cook, growing up: put together some meat, some vegetables, some pasta or starch (or both), stir in a can of "cream of something" soup, and cook it. It's easy enough to just leave out the pasta, but he said if he leaves out the soup too, he's just got a bowl of loose meat, and that gets pretty boring.

Obviously the canned soups aren't acceptable at all, with all the processed ingredients and the fact that most have gluten as a thickener. I could make my own soups with cream -- it'd be a lot more trouble than canned, but doable -- but what if I want to eliminate dairy for a while? Can anyone suggest other cream-soup-type ingredients that could be put with meat and vegetables to bind together a decent casserole?

3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on April 16, 2013
at 06:57 AM

I haven't tried it yet but coconut butter (aka coconut cream) is supposed to work well.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on March 10, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Nice answer! I'm also happy to see that I'm not the only one who uses pictures :)

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 09, 2012
at 05:24 PM

I use macadamia and cashew to thicken -- though I use the whole nuts and puree with the broth from the meal, rather than using a pre-ground nut paste.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on July 06, 2011
at 11:29 AM

Based on all these great answers, it sounds like it's pretty hard to get a "creamy" sauce without dairy. I've decided to eliminate dairy for a few weeks, though, to see how I feel, so some of these ideas about pureed vegetables and others will help. Thanks!

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on July 05, 2011
at 07:19 PM

Creme Fraiche - AGREED!

E7a462d6e99fec7e8f0ddda11b34a770

(1638)

on July 05, 2011
at 04:49 PM

Yeah, I was wondering why no one had suggested arrowroot yet - we always used that to make gravies and sauces when I was a kid.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 04, 2011
at 05:07 PM

Great answer, Felix! :)

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 04, 2011
at 05:07 PM

Yup, yup, yup!!

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 04, 2011
at 05:06 PM

This is what I do. Works like a charm!

D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on July 04, 2011
at 12:14 PM

This looks like a good substitute if you can use cream cheese in place of cream. Obviously better than Campbell's!

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18 Answers

best answer

9
3eb3f79868b24b3df4450ea2d4f9a5d5

(2387)

on July 04, 2011
at 12:57 PM

I use these for thickening:

1) Arrowroot starch. Works at lower temperatures than common thickeners, keeps the liquid clear (in case visua appeal matters to you)

2) Reduction to a paste/syrup. (probably not an option if you need a lot of liquid)

3) Coconut flour. (adds a slightly grainy texture but binds a lot of liquid)

4) Gelatin. Has the additional benefit of binding "taste particles" (it makes molecules more accessible to your tongue)

5) Then, of course, the dairy options: Cream, sour cream, creme fraiche (FTW), butter

6) Coconut milk. (If available, but there's been some kind of shortage at least in Europe due to consecutive failed crops)

7) Pureed vegetables. That's how I create most of my soups: replacement-for-

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 04, 2011
at 05:07 PM

Great answer, Felix! :)

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on July 05, 2011
at 07:19 PM

Creme Fraiche - AGREED!

Medium avatar

(19479)

on March 10, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Nice answer! I'm also happy to see that I'm not the only one who uses pictures :)

4
6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on July 04, 2011
at 07:05 AM

I make tonnes of casseroles and have never used canned soup. Get a good stock and reduce it with the meat and herbs/garlic/tomato paste, etc and if you need thicken use a little rice or potato flour. If you throw some potatoes in with the casserole this will thicken it up as well.

3
D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on July 04, 2011
at 02:37 PM

All of my old cookbooks (pre 1950) don't use soups. The flour needs to be substituted however. Here is information on the various characteristics of other thickeners that are at least gluten free:

??? Cornstarch is the best choice for thickening dairy-based sauces. Arrowroot becomes slimy when mixed with milk products. Becomes a slimy mess if frozen. ??? Choose arrowroot if you're thickening an acidic liquid. Cornstarch loses potency when mixed with acids. Freezes well. ??? Sauces made with cornstarch turn spongy when they're frozen. If you plan to freeze a dish, use tapioca starch or arrowroot as a thickener.
Adding grated potato to soups or stews will thicken them (as will pureed veggies)

Potato flour???gluten free but should never be boiled.

glutinous rice flour (sweet, mochiko) Gluten free. Works well as a thickener in sauces and soups. Sauces thickened with sweet rice flour will not separate when frozen and thawed. Can find at Asian markets or Bob???s Red Mill

3
52055f783e36f9bc2b1aeeabf2986828

on July 04, 2011
at 12:33 PM

You can actually use a variety of mixed mushrooms, add some water (and whatever spices you like). When you blend the mushrooms with a Vita Mix, it makes them creamy. I've used this as a base or a Non-cream Cream of Mushroom Soup. Then I just threw in some minced mushrooms and had my soup.

But, the base was a creaminess that I didn't initially expect and knew I could use it as a base for sauces.

Give it a try.

T

2
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 04, 2011
at 04:28 PM

My main go-to is pureed veg that I've cooked in stock. Freezes amazing, gives extra nutrition, and any veg/combo will work. If you're doing a white sauce then I would use something fairly neutral like potato so your sauce will still stay white and not go gray or take on the colour of whatever veg used. Basically, whatever you're using for the liquid, then the pureed veg, heat and season so you know what the flavour will be, and you're done. An egg will work but you'll need to remove the pan from the stove, slowly add beaten egg in a thin stream constantly stirring, so it doesn't scramble, then pan back on the stove while continuing to stir. Good luck!

2
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:47 PM

I read somewhere that before the existence of thickeners for sauces, nut butters were used.

I've used almond and macadamia butters to thicken curries. I don't know if the amount would be a little over-the-top for a soup or casserole (I use about 2 tbsp. for a 2 quart curry) but start small, allow some simmer-time, and see how it works.

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 09, 2012
at 05:24 PM

I use macadamia and cashew to thicken -- though I use the whole nuts and puree with the broth from the meal, rather than using a pre-ground nut paste.

3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on April 16, 2013
at 06:57 AM

I haven't tried it yet but coconut butter (aka coconut cream) is supposed to work well.

2
37dcc6814c487be3dda1377c680809c2

on July 04, 2011
at 12:20 PM

I agree with Sarah - coconut milk gives your soup that creamy consistency while keeping it paleo and tastes great. Just make your soup as you normally would and add anywhere from 1/2 to 1 can of coconut mild depending on the amount of soup you are making.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 04, 2011
at 05:07 PM

Yup, yup, yup!!

1
A587977aa6a839058a67b6b1e8253f10

on March 09, 2012
at 02:36 PM

Here's a recipe for "Cream of Mushroom" I used to whip up an old classic with pork chops. You can make the "soup" ahead of time and save it, and instead of mushroom you can use chicken, celery, or whatever!

http://tgipaleo.com/2012/02/08/cream-of-mushroom-chops/

1
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 05, 2011
at 03:55 PM

I tend to use a lot of roasted veggies and puree them up for a thickener. Depends on what you are making obviously!

Also coconut milk is heavy and binding, coconut flour sucks up any moisture in any mix, almond butter is heavy. I stay away from any other thickeners. Again, depends on what you are making and how you want it to taste.

I was also raised on adding a can of cream of something. I stay away from them now completely. I'm not 100% off dairy so we use full fat sour cream occasionally....but I'm trying to change that.

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 04, 2011
at 01:44 PM

Most of those soups are a cream-based soup that has been concentrated, i.e. half of the water evaporated. Then they add a bunch of chemicals.

You can do the same thing by just making a regular soup, adding cream, and simmering it for a while to reduce the flavor.

You can do the same thing with a pan sauce, saute some meat in a pan, take the meat out leaving the browned bits behind, then add some liquid such as wine or stock. This will make a sauce, then you can add some cream, and viola, you have a delicious sauce.

1
F787f66030bb1d1af372533253e7e4d6

on July 04, 2011
at 04:57 AM

I've used full fat coconut milk and arrowroot separately for thickening things and that would be my guess.

E7a462d6e99fec7e8f0ddda11b34a770

(1638)

on July 05, 2011
at 04:49 PM

Yeah, I was wondering why no one had suggested arrowroot yet - we always used that to make gravies and sauces when I was a kid.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 04, 2011
at 05:06 PM

This is what I do. Works like a charm!

1
3b8a04355030fd2b5af5f387aaf93771

on July 04, 2011
at 04:48 AM

D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on July 04, 2011
at 12:14 PM

This looks like a good substitute if you can use cream cheese in place of cream. Obviously better than Campbell's!

1
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on July 04, 2011
at 04:20 AM

We must have been neighbors. I have a few recipes that need cream soup from a can and I usually sub a mix of beef/chicken/veggie broth with cream and some baked potato or potato starch to thicken. I sometimes add a bit of avocado to add creaminess. I highly recommend adding some shredded cheese to the potato mix if you have it. It adds a great starchy texture to the mix. I don't have a recipe but just play around with whatever I have on hand. Oh I do recommend reducing the stock to half and then adding the cream and potato. Also it's best to cream/mash the potato in the food processor first with some butter if possible as it doesn't come out as smooth if you don't.

If you want this to be LC use glucommanan (konjac) or guar gum in place of the potato. As with most thickeners you want to mix with a bit of hot water to make a paste before adding to the mixture to prevent lumps.

In a pinch just some cream and cheese can work really well with a throw together LC thing. If you are o.k. with cream cheese that works even better. If you want some good ideas for easy low carb meals this site is great. Linda Sue is the queen of low carb creamy casseroles. These are NOT paleo but many recipes are easy to convert.

During my non-dairy stints I use almond milk in place of cream then add extra fat to the recipe via avocado or butter or CO. It's just o.k.

Don't forget to adjust your original recipe for the lack of pasta. You will not need the same volume of liquid as these original recipes call for as there is nothing in the recipe to absorb it.

If all else fails this stuff isn't horrible. Mix with cream for use in recipes. Not paleo but....baby steps, ya know?

1
64c9261eb27ec9d841a5ace87973b907

on July 04, 2011
at 04:02 AM

Just use fresh mushrooms (any veggie) & real cream and make your own cram soup base, this way you know what all the ingredients are!! : )

1
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on July 04, 2011
at 03:56 AM

I would say don't give up on using cream so easily. Making a creamy soup isn't nearly as hard as you'd think and it's so good. Make a big batch and freeze it in smaller portions so you can thaw it out as needed. Here are some instructions I found:

How to Freeze Cream of Mushroom Soup

0
32bf97d2ca3ac7a7dc06d5edbb66dbc7

on August 27, 2013
at 07:23 PM

I have tried the pureed cashews for recipes and it's really delicious. I've also substituted Greek yogurt and made cream soups. I'm going to use a leftover tomato cream soup tonight in ground beef and beans for a Mexi style dish. I'll see if it works.

0
C3e946c8516c70ffbbfa4e31056fe64d

on April 15, 2013
at 11:38 PM

try soaking 2/3 a cup of cashews for about a half an hour. Put them in the blender with a half a cup of the water, and puree on high. I use this to thicken sauces and my mushroom soup, and it is paleo, gluten free, dairy free, and very tasty!

0
47fbd704c0392c2f38e86a72f1a06c6c

on July 04, 2011
at 03:53 AM

I have wondered this myself recently. I have yet to experiment, but I'm wondering if you could thicken up your liquid (cream, coconut milk, broth) with something like Almond meal. The other idea is to whisk egg into the liquid in a saucepan. As it heats, the egg would thicken things up. I make a breakfast "cereal" that way... Coconut milk with an egg whisked into it, almond meal, coconut and vanilla extract. I think if you played around with the liquid/ egg ratio, you could come up with something passable. Good luck!

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