Healthy Heavy Cream Substitute for Soup

This may come as a revelation to some of you, but soups with heavy cream in them are delicious. More than just delicious, however, they have a certain mouth-feel that is just, well, out of this goddamn world. In my quest for better health and a happier body, I gave up adding heavy creams to my soups long ago. Yet, to my dismay and despite years of trial and error, I could not find a substitute that truly replicated the richness and mouth-feel of all that butterfat. And then I stumbled on a miracle.

A bowl of cream tomato soup foregrounds a fresh sandwich
Image Courtesy of Neil Conway

Some of you may already be aware of this trick; others may only be aware of its close kin – cornstarch or flour in water. I came across this trick after a few hours of vain searching one evening. I put it to the test the very next day, and folks, it changed my life. It is far superior to thickening with potatoes or cauliflower, and even cornstarch or flour and water. You will smash your palms against your faces when you look at the ingredient list because it is such an obvious combination of a few old kitchen friends.

I have two tips that will improve your results with this substitute, however. First, use an immersion blender. You can either remove all but a small portion of the soup and blend the heavy cream substitute into it before returning everything to the pot, or you can keep it all in the pot, add the substitute, and immersion blend your way to creamy bliss. Immersion blenders are relatively cheap and easy to find; I use a $30 model purchased after some research from Macy’s. What matters is that you get one with a hefty motor. We don’t want none of those wimpy motors in our kitchens, thankyouverymuch.

The second tip is to really, really, really whisk the ingredients together vigorously. Don’t be bashful about risking some milk splashes and working up a sweat. You want it frothy and slightly thickened, at the least, before you put this substitute anywhere near your soup. Now, here’s the good stuff:

Healthy Heavy Cream Substitute

  • 1 cup of milk (non-fat and 1% work just fine)
  • 2 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp of flour (whole wheat or all-purpose)

In a small bowl, whisking the milk vigorously, add the cornstarch and then the flour. Whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Add it to your soup and give it a minute or three to thicken everything up. The best approach is to immersion blend the substitute into at least a portion of the soup.


Got any other tasty tricks for making healthy eating as delectable as possible? Share them with us in the comments section!


By Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller is a twenty-something blogger, cook, freelance writer and editor living in Seattle, Washington. She’s a feminist trying ever-so-hard to embrace her spaces, conventional or not. She looks forward to numerous bad hair days, burnt cremes, a soapbox or two, and maybe (just maybe) a yellow polka-dot bikini in the years ahead.

14 replies on “Healthy Heavy Cream Substitute for Soup”

Oooooh. So my lactose intolerance resurrects itself in weird ways – named, cooked cream is the one thing that’s a 100% guarantee to make me sick (other things just surprise me!) So no cream-based soups and no ice cream, which saddens me greatly. I may go for the coconut milk option first, but since milk in small quantities tends to not upset me, I’m definitely going to try this! Exciting!!!!!!!

Also! Cashews! You can blend raw, unsalted cashews into liquid-y things (like soup and sauces) to thicken them up. Alternatively, soak some cashews in water for a few hours, then blend them up to make cashew cream. Ground-up cashews on their own work kind of like cornstarch.

It might sound sort of weird, but it really works and won’t make your soup taste like nuts. Promise.

You know, this is a great idea. On the surface, I cannot see a reason it would NOT work for a soup, other than that the flavor still differs from regular milk, which may alter the taste of the soup in a negative way. Since you’d need so little of it, however, I doubt there would be any drastic change in flavor.

Coconut milk is great, and it has some pretty awesome fat (no really, coconut fats are just out of this world). I would expect it to impart a coconut flavor to the soup, which might not be desirable in all cases. But, you know, it’s hard for me to turn down coconut milk. Ever.

I love me some heavy cream, I do. I love it in preeeeeeetty much everything. But unfortunately, I have a little ol’ thyroid problem that likes to screw with my metabolism if I exceed even a remotely reasonable number of calories. Thus, heavy cream is for holidays ’round my house!

But yeah, I would drink heavy cream straight from the container if I could!

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