Condensed cream soups are staples in many casserole recipes and for good reason, because the soups are convenient and they provide flavor and a rich, creamy consistency. However, condensed cream soups also add large amounts of unhealthy sodium. You can purchase low-sodium varieties of cream soups, or you can use other healthy alternatives.
White sauce makes a viable substitute for cream soups. Make white sauce using butter, flour and chicken broth instead of milk. Turn the white sauce into a substitute for mushroom soup by mixing in a few sauteed mushrooms. Similarly, add steamed broccoli for cream of broccoli soup, cooked potatoes for cream of potato soup, or steamed celery for cream of celery soup. Season the sauce with pepper and omit the salt or use a salt substitute.
Homemade Cream Soup Mix
Control the amount of sodium in cream soup by making your own cream soup mix from nonfat dry milk, cornstarch, white pepper and seasonings such as garlic powder and onion flakes or onion powder. If your diet allows a small amount of sodium, flavor the soup with dried low-sodium bouillon. Avoid garlic salt, which is very high in sodium. Store the mix in your refrigerator, and add water along with cooked potatoes, beans, mushrooms, cheese or onions to adapt the soup mix to casseroles or recipes.
Instead of canned cream soup, flavor your casserole or hot dish with pureed vegetables such as carrots, butternut squash or sweet potatoes, which add not only flavor, but fiber, beta-carotene and other important nutrients. You can also use mashed potatoes or potato flakes in place of cream soups.
Dairy products such as sour cream, cream cheese or plain, Greek yogurt are effective substitutes for condensed cream soups in many casseroles and hot dishes. If fat is a concern, use low-fat or fat-free versions. You can also use heavy cream in place of cream soups, but use cream sparingly as it is high in unhealthy saturated fats.
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M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.