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A Healthy Substitute for Heavy Cream

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Whole grains play the new heavy in bisques and chowders.

Few things cut through the chill of winter like a warm, cozy bowl of soup—most notably the spoon-clinging, belly-warming cream-based varieties. Heavy cream can be used as the base stock of the recipe or to finish, with a thickening power that adds not just silky-smooth richness and texture, but a good bit of saturated fat as well. Just a 2-tablespoon splash adds 7 grams to one bowl—a third of your daily allotment.

Sub lower-fat milk or yogurt to lighten, and you'll have a curdled mess once that soup comes to a simmer. But what about a whole grain? When overcooked in broth and pureed with low-fat milk, brown rice becomes a rich, nutty cream that not only thickens but also adds a velvety-smooth mouthfeel with only 7 calories and no sat fat per tablespoon. Test it for yourself in our broccoli cheese soup makeover or use instead of heavy cream in tomato-basil soup or clam chowder.

Bring 2 cups unsalted chicken stock and ½ cup uncooked instant brown rice to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Blend mixture and 1 cup 1% low-fat milk in a blender until smooth. Makes 3 cups.

Cooking Light Brown Rice Cream
107 calories 1.3g fat 0.5g sat fat per cup


Heavy Whipping Cream
828 calories 89g fat 55g sat fat per cup