The Fat-Free Ingredient Swap You Need To Know For Thicker Soups

While soup is good any time of year, during spring and summer, we generally tend to want something lighter with a clear broth. Once the colder weather hits, though, bring on the thick and hearty soups! One of Campbell's more memorable commercials (via YouTube) was one that involved a snowman who eats a bowl of soup and thaws out into a freckle-faced kid. Although the soup the kid in the commercial is eating seems to be chicken noodle, many homemade fall and winter soup recipes call for using a thickener such as cream.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, award-winning nutrition expert and author of the best-selling The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook, says that's a big nope, nutrition-wise. "One cup of heavy cream," she tells us, "contains 414 calories [and] 44 grams of total fat with close to 28 of those grams coming from artery-clogging saturated fat." Well, that's not too comforting, If you still want a creamy soup, she suggests swapping out the cream for regular or 2-percent milk instead, for what she says can be "a reduction in upwards of 250 calories and 23 grams of saturated fat!"

You can also thicken soups with veggies

For what Amidor calls "an even lower fat — or zero fat — substitute for thickening soups," she suggests you use vegetables, instead. She says you can use a range of vegetables, which you'd puree in order to get that thickening action, and lists butternut squash, sweet potatoes (or yams), and red, white, russet, or any other kind of potato as likely candidates. Leftover mashed potatoes work great — or, if you don't happen to have any on hand and don't feel like cooking and pureeing a potato, you could even use frozen hash browns

Amidor cites a recipe from her cookbook for a creamy broccoli soup. This soup is made with broccoli and a vegetable broth base, but instead of being thickened with cream, she uses a pureed russet potato to add some body and flavor without boosting the fat content. As an added bonus, such a dairy-free vegetable soup is also vegan, as well. Amidor's best soup-making advice: "Next time you have heavy cream on your shopping list when making a soup, opt for a potato or two instead."