5 Dairy-Free Ways to Make a Creamy Soup, According to a Dietitian
Here at EatingWell, we love our soups, especially when the weather is less than ideal. One of the reasons we love them is that they can come in many shapes, forms and flavors, but they always seem to feel like a hug in a bowl. And sometimes, you want that cozy bowl to be creamy and luscious—even if you don't eat dairy.
Not to worry! There are several plant-based ingredients that can give your soup smooth richness, with no dairy necessary. Here are some of our favorite dairy-free ways to make a creamy soup.
One way to add body to your soup is with the addition of nuts. Our Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup pictured above gets a luxurious texture from the addition of chopped walnuts. They are blended with water and until completely smooth and added to the soup as the vegetables cook. In our Vegan Pumpkin Soup, cashews are added directly into the soup at the end and blended in. To help soften nuts, you can soak them in water prior to cooking. Nuts also add a boost of healthy fats, protein, and fiber to soups. The nutty flavor brings complexity and layers to a plant-based soup.
2. Lentils and Legumes
Lentils are a favorite ingredient amongst our staff. They're super healthy and packed with protein, fiber, iron, folate, and potassium–all nutrients that are challenging for plant-based eaters to consume sufficient amounts of. Plus, they're affordable and pantry-friendly, so it's easy to always have some on hand. Whether your eating pattern is dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, or soy-free, chances are you can still enjoy lentils. Recipes like our Egyptian Lentil Soup blend lentils with vegetables, broth, and spices for a satisfying and cozy creamy soup.
3. Peanut Butter or Tahini
Similarly to nuts, nut butter and spreads like peanut butter and tahini can give soups a creamy boost while keeping them plant-based. These spreads add a nutty flavor that can elevate ingredients like sweet potatoes and other vegetables–our Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque is proof. This recipe blends peanut butter with cooked sweet potato to make a flavorful, creamy sauce to add back into the soup. Nut butter and spreads add a bit of healthy fat and protein, too.
4. Pureed Vegetables
One of the simplest ways to give your soup a creamy texture is to puree the vegetables that are in it. That said, certain vegetables lend themselves to this better than others. Vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes can be blended smoothly to achieve a creamy, almost buttery texture. Not to mention, they add fiber and nutrients to your dish. Recipes like our Roasted Vegan Cauliflower Soup with Parsley-Chive Swirl make it easy to up your vegetable intake without sacrificing flavor.
5. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a popular substitute for heavy cream in many soups, stews, and curries. Its consistency is similar to that of heavy cream or milk and can be added to recipes in a similar fashion. However, it should be noted that coconut milk is very flavorful and you will likely be able to taste it in whatever you're making. It can help thicken soups and soften the flavors of spices, chiles, and other strong ingredients to create a cozy, creamy dish. Our Vegan Butternut Squash Soup pairs coconut milk with curry paste for an ultra-satisfying and comforting meal.