Skip to main content

My clever hack makes any creamy soup recipe dairy-free (without sacrificing flavor)

Just because you're vegan or lactose intolerant doesn't mean you should miss out on the season's best soups

Broccoli soup
Saramukitza / Pixabay

The winter season is a favorite of many due to its festive cheer, twinkling lights, and the general spirit of loving merriment and goodwill. For us, it’s the soup. Deliciously warm and comforting winter soups are special in their ability to cheer, nourish, and warm both body and soul.

This time of year, we can’t get enough of our soup recipes. But as much as we adore these soups in all their cozy, velvety glory, they’re often thickened and flavored with lactose-laden cream and butter, sour creams, and cheeses. While these dairy ingredients do add tremendous flavor and depth to creamy soups, like what you’ll find in your potato soup recipe, they certainly aren’t for everyone. For a variety of reasons, many people can’t have dairy in their diets, and we’re here to help, at least when it comes to warm, creamy soups. There are actually several delicious ways for the vegan and dairy-intolerant individuals among us to achieve the same thick and creamy soup results with no dairy at all.

The secret ingredient to thick and silky dairy-free soups is starch. Depending on the flavors of your soup, you can use a huge variety of starchy ingredients to work as thickening agents in your dish. In fact, if what you’re making is a soup that features a particularly starchy ingredient already, like potatoes, simply add a little more potato and subtract a bit of the liquid for a naturally thick and creamy soup, thickened by the starchiness of the potatoes.

Bread is another one of our favorite options for thickening just about any of your favorites, like cream of broccoli soup, cream of mushroom soup, corn chowder, lobster bisque, and tomato soup. This method is tremendously popular in many European dishes, such as Italian ribollita. Rice and other grains like barley and oatmeal work very well, too. Simply allow them to cook within your soup, then puree with a regular or an immersion blender for a dairy-free soup that tastes just as delicious as the cream and butter version.

Garlic soup
Veronika FitArt / Unsplash

Roasted garlic soup recipe

This roasted garlic soup recipe is beautiful in its simplicity. The sweet, nutty flavor of roasted garlic shines in this delicious dairy-free soup that’s absolutely perfect for winter.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons bacon fat (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 heads garlic, roasted (*see tips and tricks)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6-8 slices bread, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. While the garlic is roasting (see below), heat the bacon fat or oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute it until it’s translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the wine to the pan and cook it until it has nearly evaporated.
  3. Add the stock, roasted garlic, and bread cubes to the onions, stirring to combine.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook on low-medium for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it’s velvety smooth.
  6. Season to taste and serve with homemade croutons or any other garnish you desire.

Roasted garlic soup tips and tricks

  • Roasted garlic is a very simple thing to prepare, and it is one of the most delicious ingredients in the world. Roasted garlic is incredible in thousands of dishes, taking on a sweeter, nuttier, smoother garlic taste than that of raw garlic. You can find our simple recipe for roasted garlic here.
  • Bread is a wonderful thickening agent, but it’s also great for adding and adapting flavor to your own personal preferences. You can use just about any kind of bread you like here, and keep in mind the additional flavors it will bring to a dish.

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
How to make apple-infused bourbon
Apple-infused bourbon recipe
Applie bourbon

If you’re a bourbon fan and have never infused it with other flavors, what are you waiting for? A whole world of whiskey flavor combinations is just waiting to be discovered. Peaches, berries, raisins, and apples are all great flavors to infuse your favorite whiskey with (or enhance a lesser whiskey).

There are a few reasons why infusing your whiskey is a great idea. When bourbon is distilled, it’s clear and similar to moonshine. It’s not until it’s aged that it gets the caramel, vanilla, oak, and spice flavors from the charred oak. When you add fruit and other ingredients to bourbon, a similar process takes place. That’s why infusing your favorite bourbon gives it bold, delicious, complex flavors and aromas.

Read more
You can make a quick hollandaise in your microwave in under 2 minutes – here’s how
It's time to stop cursing at broken sauces
Eggs Benedict on plate

During my very first break from culinary school, I went home to visit my parents. As one does, I'd decided to show off with all of my fancy new culinary know-how and spent the weekend preparing a royal spread of pastries, breads, desserts, and every meal I could dream up...or had at least had jotted down in one of my notebooks. But on the third or fourth morning, exhausted from croissants and brioche, I decided to make for my my parents eggs benedict, complete with the most silky and buttery of all the sauces - hollandaise. Hollandaise sauce is truly something straight from the gods. Traditionally made from egg yolk and butter, emulsified slowly over low heat and accentuated with a lemony kiss, this velvety sauce is what brunchtime dreams are made of. Traditionally served over a number of dishes, it just doesn't get any more delicious than a classic hollandaise.

Unfortunately, however, this delicious sauce can also be one of the most finicky to make. That morning with my parents, hopeful and full of joy and optimism after spending a few nights in my childhood bedroom, I set to work making a perfect eggs benedict with hollandaise for my sweet parents. I did everything right. The eggs were tempered, the bain marie was perfect, the eggs were poached to perfection. And then, out of nowhere and with no warning, along with my sweet young heart, my hollandaise broke. In a fury of embarrassment, I poured the entire batch down the drain and started again. And again. If memory serves, it was the fourth batch that finally worked, though I'd done absolutely nothing different than in the first three batches. Needless to say, it was a frustrating (and expensive) morning.

Read more
A pro chef gives us tips on how to make a great breakfast burger
Burger for breakfast? Yes, please.
Burger with egg on plate.

Virgina’s Brunch Burger with egg. Virginia’s / Le CollectiveM

A juicy hamburger full of umami beef and perfectly melted cheese is a dream lunch or dinner for any carnivore. But what about breakfast? When adding ingredients like a fried egg, crispy bacon, and avocado, who says the cheeseburger can’t be a perfect meal for the morning?

Read more