20 Creamy Soups Without the Cream
How to get all that lusciousness without cream’s calories or saturated fat
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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup; photograph by Olga Ivanova
A long time ago, I lost a lot of weight on a low-fat diet. That eating plan may not be as trendy as going low-carb or full-on keto, but it worked for me. These days I don’t count fat grams like I used to — I just keep an eye on one kind of fat in particular: saturated fat. Usually found in animal-based products, it can increase your cholesterol levels. That boosts your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Heavy cream, which gives most creamy soups their texture, has a lot of saturated fat. One cup of the stuff has almost 55 grams — and more than 800 calories. So yeah, I try to avoid it. But that doesn’t mean I have to give up creamy soups. And neither do you.
Jump ahead to:
Simple & luscious pureed veggie soup recipes >>
Soup recipes that use evaporated skim milk >>
Soup recipes that use plant-based milk >>
Soup recipes that stir in yogurt >>
Other ways to get creamy: beans and tofu >>
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Creamy without cream Q&A
It’s easier than you think to make soups that would fool even the snootiest French chef.
5 healthy tips to make soup creamy
Over the years, I’ve found five main ways for making creamy soups healthy:
Tip 1: Puree the right vegetables. Some vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, winter squash, and carrots, take on a naturally creamy consistency after a spin in the blender.
Tip 2: Use evaporated skim milk. “Evaporated” means they took out most of the water. Which — you guessed it — makes skim milk feel rich and creamy.
Tip 3: Or try plant-based milk. Because saturated fat is found mostly in animal products, almost any milk made from plants (think soy, oat, almond, rice, cashew) will be saturated fat-free and lower in calories than regular milk. One exception is coconut milk, which has almost as much saturated fat as cream — but it’s a different kind, and there’s some research suggesting it’s actually pretty good for you.
Tip 4: Sub in yogurt. Plain yogurt, either Greek or regular, has long been used as a heart-healthy stand-in for sour cream. In soup, it can sub for regular cream, too.
Tip 5: Add beans. When you whir beans in a blender or food processor, you get a smooth, thick puree. Just the thing to thicken and creamify soup.
How can I make creamy vegan soups?
That’s easy: Use tips #1, 3, and 5 above, and make sure you use vegetable broth and oil or plant-based butter.
Simple & luscious pureed veggie soup recipes
All you need are some vegetables and aromatics, chicken or vegetable broth, your choice of seasoning, and a countertop or immersion blender to produce thick, sumptuous soups.
Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup
So simple, yet so sophisticated. This creamy vegetable soup gets its richness from heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil, which you drizzle into the blender while roasted cauliflower, red bell pepper, and sweet potato puree with vegetable broth. It’s just begging for some crusty bread.
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
If a bowl of pureed cauliflower doesn’t exactly ring your bell, I’ve got news: This cream-free soup has layer upon layer of flavor — there’s the cauliflower, of course, which gets caramelized in the oven, but also red onion and garlic, lemon juice and nutmeg, plus a garnish of chopped fresh herbs.
Creamy Celery Soup (Vegan)
Along with celery, onion, and garlic cloves, you’ll be simmering diced potatoes for this soup. When you puree all that together with fresh dill and fresh parsley, the potato adds smooth body while letting celery’s delicate flavor shine through.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
This yummy mixture of squash, aromatics, carrots, warm spices like cinnamon, red pepper, and black pepper, and just a smidge of maple syrup comes together in the oven, so you don’t even have to stand by the stove, stirring.
Soup recipes that use evaporated skim milk
I always keep a can of evaporated skim milk in my pantry — it comes out thick and creamy, without any of the fat in heavy cream. Note: We’re talking evaporated milk, not sweetened condensed. Once you stir in a can of the latter by mistake, you’ll never do that again.
(Skinny!) Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
My husband ate a lot of canned cream of chicken soup growing up. When he’s not feeling well, it’s his go-to comfort food — but as an adult, he prefers this healthier version. He gets all the creamy satisfaction of childhood, but evaporated skim milk keeps things low-fat.
Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Wild rice takes a while to cook, so I always prepare a double-batch. Along with leftover cooked chicken, it gives me what I need for this delicious soup. Each bowl has all the classic cream of chicken soup ingredients like carrot, celery, onion, and chicken stock, but the rice gives it a nice twist.
Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This easy recipe shaves literally hundreds of calories off Panera’s broccoli and cheese soup, but you won’t taste the difference. It hits all the key notes, with broccoli florets, cheddar, Parmesan, and a little nutmeg, plus broth and evaporated skim milk. And the cook time is less than half an hour!
Crock-Pot Corn Chowder
If you’re looking for an easy soup, go with one that’s made in the slow cooker. Chunks of potato and celery plus plenty of corn kernels go into the crock pot along with chicken broth, evaporated milk, and fresh thyme. Six hours later, dig into a bowl of soup so good, you’ll be licking the spoon.
Soup recipes that use plant-based milk
Compared to heavy cream, most dairy-alternative milks are far lower in calories and saturated fat — and they have no cholesterol at all. In many cases, these recipes are vegan.
Creamy Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup
An entire head of garlic gets roasted along with pre-cut butternut squash, carrots, and onion for this hearty vegan soup. It gets its creaminess from an abundant amount of coconut milk. Don’t skip the roasted pumpkin seed garnish for crunchy contrast.
Creamy Broccoli Pesto Soup
Nobody would guess this healthy soup is ready in just half an hour. To make it, you sauté aromatics until soft, then add chopped broccoli stems and vegetable broth and top with the florets. A very quick simmer is all it takes to make everything tender enough to puree, without losing that vibrant green color. Almond milk provides the creaminess, while a swirl of pesto in the bowl lends a bit of Italian flair.
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup (Vegan)
Roasting plum tomatoes intensifies their flavor and brings out the natural sweetness. That’s the secret of this extremely simple, creamy tomato soup. This one works with virtually any plant-based milk — oat, cashew, almond, soy, or coconut.
Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Soup
I don’t usually think of a creamy chicken pot pie as healthy, but in soup form? Absolutely. You’ve got no crust, which cuts a lot of fat and calories from the get-go (and also makes this gluten-free). And in this case, the creaminess comes from pureeing some of the potato, cauliflower, and plant-milk base.
Soup recipes that stir in yogurt
For years I’ve used Greek yogurt as a heart-healthy substitute for sour cream. So it makes sense that yogurt (Greek or regular, but always plain) lends its tang to make healthier, creamy-without-cream soups.
Immunity-Friendly Carrot Ginger Soup
I love it when creamy carrot soup goes beyond the ordinary. This version gets its silky texture from Greek yogurt and its intriguing flavor from a combination of leeks, ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, and lemon juice — plus an umami kick from white miso paste. You’re not going to want to stop after one bowl.
Creamy Zucchini Potato Soup
Flavor-wise, zucchini and potato are both pretty mellow — but in this soup they combine with garlic cloves, onion, and celery into something subtly delicious. The potato contributes to the creamy texture, but stirring in one cup of Greek yogurt makes it feel downright velvety in your mouth. I love the idea of topping each bowl with some crumbled bacon, a touch of indulgence.
Creamy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup
Spiced with cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder, this quick weeknight soup tastes like it took hours to make. It gets its lush texture from both Greek yogurt and a clever ingredient: canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling). That puree adds body, color, fiber, and beta-carotene, plus a whisper of sweetness.
Creamy Tomato Orzo Soup
The tanginess of Greek yogurt works beautifully with sweetly acidic canned tomatoes. I love how easy this one is, ready in less than 30 minutes — and stirring in cooked orzo bulks up the soup. With a salad, it’s filling enough for a meal.
Other ways to get creamy: beans and tofu
When I want to really boost the nutritional content of a creamy soup, I turn to beans. Think about creamy hummus from pureed chickpeas — you can get that effect with pretty much any cooked beans, with or without cooking liquid. And tofu has a creamy texture to begin with.
Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup
Don’t let that demure-looking bowl fool you — this is one hearty soup, ready in a jiffy. Canned white beans blend with just-cooked broccoli and aromatics for a smooth spoonful. Adding baby spinach and fresh parsley keeps the color a lovely, bright green while layering in more flavors. And I love the crunchy bite of chopped red onion on top.
30-Minute Smoky Black Bean Soup
A whopping three cans of black beans go into the soup pot — and two of them get pureed, along with their liquid, beforehand. The soup is thick and spicy, thanks to chopped jalapeño, with fire roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika bringing home the smoky flavor.
Vegan Creamy Mushroom Soup
You will never look at canned cream of mushroom soup the same way after you try this luscious recipe. Here, chickpeas and a bit of almond milk provide the creamy feel. Definitely hold out some of the sauteed mushroom-onion-garlic combo to add textural variety to each bowl.
Creamy Potato Leek Soup
Vichyssoise is a classic French soup made with leeks, potato, and oodles of cream. Definitely not something I want to eat regularly. Swapping in silken tofu has to be some kind of genius. You get all the elegant, rich flavor without the saturated fat — and tofu provides a protein boost, too.
More soup for you
We’ve got every kind of soup under the sun, from an entire roundup of chicken soups to soups that can be made conveniently in the Instant Pot. Explore the soup articles below.