We’ve developed our own way of making condensed cream soup substitutes that are entirely vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free! They can all be used as a 1:1 replacement for condensed soups in casseroles and stews. In this post, we’re sharing all our best cream of soup tips, tricks, and recipes to create your own veganized comfort foods! From flavorful pot pies to vegan tuna noodle casserole and everything in between. This plant-based cooking hack for making a condensed soup substitute is going to up your winter comfort food game in so many ways.
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A lot of people on the internet seem to think the only way to make a “cream of whatever soup” substitute is by simply replacing a classic roux with vegan butter and bing-bang-boom, vegan condensed soups. And yeah, that is one messy way that requires a decent amount of effort, but hear me out.
A few years back, I accidentally came up with an outside the box method of making a homemade condensed soup substitute that required no butter (or oil!), no flour or corn starch, and no whole milk or cream! Just pantry staples, minimal effort, and a blender.
As soon as I tasted my creation, I was shocked how much it tasted like those cans of Campbell’s Cream of Soups…and you will be too.
Using that original vegan condensed cream of chicken recipe, we crafted several other flavors. And they’re the key to veganizing all the creamy casseroles we dream of! We use them in so many recipes on this blog (they’re some of the most beloved!), and there’s always a big batch in our freezer or a jar or two defrosting in the fridge.
After making and sharing recipes using this method for years, I thought it was about time we created a post dedicated to all our tips and tricks for using this “vegan condensed soup” method, as well as put all the recipes that use it in one place for your convenience.
What is condensed soup?
Condensed Soup is just regular soup that has been simmered or cooked down until almost all the water has been boiled out, leaving a thicker soup that can be reconstituted again later with more water or a small amount of milk.
The “scientific” concept was created by a chemist at the Campbell’s Soup Co. all the way back in 1897, and his simple soup recipe absolutely revolutionized the entire industry!
For years, condensed cream of soups have been a basic recipe of a flavored roux made with butter, wheat flour, heavy cream and whatever “cream of” ingredient is in the title.
It’s a classic ingredient for home cooks used to add a thick creamy base and flavor to a variety of easy casseroles, stews, sauces, and crockpot meals. But they’re not suitable for a vegan diet.
Our easy substitutes for vegan condensed soups break all the conventional rules. They’re made in 3 simple steps with a few common, plant-based pantry ingredients and no butter, flour, or cream.
Oh, and with our quick recipe, you don’t have to wait extra hours for a whole pot of soup to boil down.
What You’ll Need to Make Dairy Free Condensed Soup
We’ve included some specific different recipes below, but here’s the basic framework for all of them:
- Red lentils – Dry, not canned. These help give us that thick, almost gelatinous “Cream of.. Soup” consistency that is pure magic. I’d try not to substitute this ingredient if possible, but you may be able to get away with cutting the amount in half and using canned and drained chickpeas or white beans. We have not tried this though.
- Raw cashews – These add incredible creaminess and fat to our condensed soup. For a nut-free option, you can replace the cashews with sunflower seeds or hulled hemp seeds. If you’re doing this, we also suggest adding up to 1 Tbsp olive oil to the blender.
- Flavor – This depends on the variation you’re making. For example, you would use vegan chicken bouillon powder as the chicken base for the vegan cream of chicken or canned mushrooms for the dairy-free cream of mushroom.
As far as equipment goes, you’ll also need:
- A medium saucepan – Use a size where the ingredients fill it less than halfway for best results
- Rubber spatula – This will help you get the most out of your blender!
- A high-powered heat-safe blender – like a Vitamix. Check out our Blender Soup Guide for more info on which blenders are heat-safe. That’s really important!
- 3-4 (8-oz.) mason jars – with self-sealing canning lids
Flavor Variations and Add-Ins
See the recipes listed in the bottom section of this post for more specific recipes of variations, but you can use this framework to make any cream of soup you can think of!
Here are some ideas for your own cream soup experimentation:
- Add fresh celery for a Cream of Celery Soup
- Chopped fresh or frozen broccoli for a Cream of Broccoli Soup
- Fresh chopped asparagus for a Cream of Asparagus Soup
- Sauteed onions for a Cream of Onion Soup
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How to Make Healthy Vegan Condensed Soup
While this process takes a bit of time for the condensed soup to set, the steps are incredibly simple. It’s also a great batch-cooking strategy.
And it’s so easy to make a double batch of condensed homemade soups and freeze some for later. See our tips on storage in the next section!
I’ll summarize the steps and give our best tips on how to make these cream of soups using our blender method here. It can be helpful to have an idea of the overall process to really make it your own and come up with your own variations!
But remember there are links to specific recipes at the bottom of this post as well.
Step 1: Simmer
Add everything to a medium saucepan, bring to a full rolling boil, and then simmer (covered) for 10 minutes. We want to overcook the red lentils, so they’ll be nice and creamy. Adding the cashews to the pot like this also softens them without hours of soaking time.
Safety Note: When bringing red lentils to a boil, the pot will boil up fast and can boil over if you’re not careful. Keep a very close eye on it as soon as you see it begin to bubble! Then, when the bubbles start to climb to the top, turn to low heat.
Step 2: Blend
Next, you’ll carefully transfer the mixture into your Vitamix or another high-powered, heat-safe blender and pulse a few times to break up the larger pieces.
Then, starting at a low speed and slowly increasing to high, blend on high for about 1 full minute until the soup has a smooth texture and is creamy.
Safety Note: Make sure the blender you are using is heat-safe!
Step 3: Jar
Immediately pour this mixture into 3 or 4 (8-oz) mason jars (the amount varies between recipes / variations) and cover with the canning lids. Use heat-safe gloves when you do this, as the soup will be very hot! Let them cool on the counter like this completely.
When cooled, gently press down on the center of your canning lid (it should seal when you do this if it hasn’t already) and finish sealing it tightly. Sometimes it’s hard to get the lid on tightly with those heat-safe gloves, so just give it another twist to make sure it’s properly secured.
Place this in the fridge for at least an hour to continue thickening. For best results, let it set overnight!
And voila! That’s how you make vegan condensed soup substitutes!
How to Use Homemade Condensed Soup
Use each 8-oz. mason jar as a 1:1 replacement for Campbell’s “cream of” soup in all your favorite recipes. You can also use it to make a quick and easy creamy soup that’s perfect for drinking out of a hot mug on a cold day to warm your hands and heart!
How much water to add to condensed soup: Reconstitute one jar of this condensed soup with up to ½ cup of warm water and heat it on the stove or microwave on medium heat, stirring frequently until warmed through for a delicious and creamy soup.
In the recipe section below, we’ll offer some vegan recipes that utilize each of our vegan condensed soups!
How to Store Vegan and Gluten Free Condensed Soup
Once cooled fully on the counter, you can store the jars of soup in your fridge for up to 5 days. Do not store them in the cabinet like you would canned soup.
How to Freeze Condensed Cream Soup Subs
You can freeze these condensed soups for up to 8 weeks, but we suggest using (12-oz) jars instead of 8-oz jars and leaving 2 inches of empty space at the top of each jar. This will allow the soup to expand without breaking the jar. That’s super important when you’re freezing things in glass!
Let the soup cool completely in the fridge before transferring it to the freezer. When ready to use, move the jar to the fridge and let it thaw completely before using. Once thawed, use within 3 days.
How to Freeze Vegan Cream of Soups in Souper Cubes:
Using the silicone trays from Souper Cubes is a great way to batch prep and freeze a bunch of vegan condensed cream soups at once!
Here’s how to freeze condensed soups in Souper Cubes:
- Pour the soup into 3 or 4 (1-cup) Souper Cubes leaving 1/4 inch space at the top.
- Cover immediately with the Souper Cubes lid and let it cool completely on the counter.
- When cool, transfer this to the fridge to fully chill overnight.
- The next day, transfer the Souper Cubes to the freezer to freeze fully (up to 24 hours).
- Once frozen, if desired, pop out the vegan condensed soups and store them in a large airtight container or freezer-safe bag.
- Use 1 cube per jar of condensed soup the recipe calls for. For best results, let the soup thaw in the fridge overnight before using in the recipe as directed. You can also add the soup to the recipes while frozen, but be aware this will affect the cooking time!
Vegan Condensed Soups Recipes
You can use our method to make a healthier substitute of the canned stuff for any condensed cream soup you like! But we do have a number of variations already written and tested for you to get started with.
They are listed here along with some of the great ways we use them in our casserole recipes!
1. Vegan Substitute for Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup
Get ready to veganize all the cozy casseroles of your childhood with this remarkably simple recipe for vegan homemade cream of chicken soup! It’s the perfect healthy, vegetarian, and dairy free cream of chicken substitute. It’s an easy and great recipe with just 5 ingredients, 20 minutes, and an amazing chicken flavor with no “Artificial flavors”.
Use it for:
- Vegan Pot Pie Casserole
- Cheesy Vegan Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Vegan Chicken Noodle Casserole
2. Vegan Cream of Mushroom
Use this Vegan Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup as a healthier alternative to Campbell’s canned version (which is not vegan) in all your favorite casseroles and crockpot recipes! This cashew-based recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, oil-free, and loaded with whole foods. You’ll be shocked how much this copycat tastes and acts just like the original!
Use it for:
- Vegan Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Plant-Based Green Bean Casserole
3. Vegan Cream of Potato
Use this dairy-free condensed cream of potato soup base to thicken soups, stews, casseroles, and super creamy sauces. It’s easy to make in your Vitamix with simple ingredients. You can even freeze it for later! And it’s also naturally dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free.
4. Vegan Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
Eat this dairy-free condensed cheddar soup on its own as a pub-style cheese spread, or use it as a main ingredient to add a creamy texture and cheesy base to all your favorite casseroles and sauces. It’s easy to make in your Vitamix with simple ingredients, and it’s absolutely delicious.
Use it for:
- Cheesy Vegan Hash Brown Casserole
- Vegan Mac and Cheese
Have you used our condensed soup substitute method before? We’d love to hear which ones you’ve made and what you thought, and what sort of recipes you made using them!
Or did you just have them as a nice thick and creamy soup?! Because we love that too!
Let us know in the comments!
Check out our Dairy-Free Cream of Soup Recipes web-story.