Have fun blending other ingredients into your soups and stews for a thicker result | Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

Got Milk? Thicken and Enhance Your Soups and Stews Minus the Dairy and the Flour

Here are clever, resourceful ways to get thick, warm, and creamy — non-dairy and gluten-free

Jarvis Wai-Ki Clarke
3 min readJan 3, 2022

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It sure is that time of the year — warm comfort in a bowl. While clear broths are outstanding in their own right, there’s nothing more like a reassuring hug than a creamy soup or stew.

But sometimes you’re simply short on the dairy — or it’s smelling too funky.

Faced with a roaring blizzard outside, too? No thanks, you’re not braving the storm for a carton.

Better yet, as part of your New Year’s resolutions, you’ve perhaps decided to cut out all dairy from here on out.

To that end, disregard the roux and the cream.

Because there are techniques and ingredients right at your fingertips to thicken and enrichen your favourite soups and stews.

Thank You, Mother Nature, for Potatoes and Pulses

Potatoes, beans, chickpeas, and lentils — they’re naturally gifted at thickening.

And any one of them — whether they’re already cooked or canned — is bound to be in your kitchen, ready to make a rather generous textural difference.

On your end, all that’s needed is to cook and incorporate enough of them into your soup or stew.

With the assistance of either a potato masher, a stick blender, or a food processor, you can effortlessly achieve your desired thickness.

You may have to play around, adjusting the quantities of the added thickening agent, according to your respective recipe.

But you’ll be delightfully surprised at how well they’re each able to do their job as substitutes for both the flour and the cream.

Yet when it comes to potatoes, they’re starchy, which actually works well in your favour.

And it’s, indeed, a starch that’s welcome in any other soup or stew besides a delicious cream of potato.

To put them to use, the potatoes can then simply be peeled, chopped, and tossed into the soup or the stew.

Next, fish out the potatoes towards the end when they’re tender, and purée them in a small food processor before returning them to the pot.

Alternatively, while they’re still in the pot, you can gently mash them beside the walls with the back of a wooden spoon.

As for beans, while they’ll help to make you feel full, they’ll work the same wonders to your soup — making it fuller, too.

As such a fabulous source of fibre and iron, beans will not only add a nutritional boost, but they’ll also do so with noticeable thickening power.

And if they’re already cooked as from the can, they’re a breeze to blend into your soup or stew.

To which, the beautiful combination of mashed and whole beans is quite appealing and hearty.

As an added bonus with this cooking trick, you’ll also benefit from tackling those spare cans in your kitchen, as part of your decluttering resolutions.

Blend with Unsweetened Coconut Milk

As the perfect rival to dairy, coconut milk is not only plant-forward, but it’s also shelf-stable.

Plus, this is great news if you’ve got a few cans of it hanging around, and you’re on your last drops of the dairy.

To achieve that delectable, creamy mouthfeel, however, simply pour in coconut milk to your soup or stew, but towards the end.

Make sure to stir it in during the last few minutes, letting it simmer for just a bit.

What’s the amount that you should use?

To avoid overpowering the flavour of your soup or stew, add it to taste.

Depending on what you have available, you might even have coconut cream, instead, however.

But this would have been an easy mistake as the two are often kept side-by-side in the grocery store.

If that’s the case, it will be a very thick and rich addition — and very pronounced in coconut flavour — but it’s great for the job.

Give it a try, a taste, and an adjustment.

Related: Flavourful Plant-Based Beginnings: The 3 Essential Seasonings To Always Have on Hand

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Jarvis Wai-Ki Clarke

With an appetite for words and a curiousity to follow a story, I love exploring the kitchen and the home as much as the outdoors, photographing along the way.