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Gluten Free Soup Thickener

Gluten free soup thickener: white beansWhile most recipes suggest using flour or corn starch to thicken soups and stews, I have a secret ingredient for thickening soups that’s gluten free and vegan – and it’s super healthy, too. It’s beans! By using white beans in place of other thickeners, you’re getting a gluten free, vegan thickener that’s loaded with fiber. What more could you ask for in a soup or stew thickener?

Gluten Free Soup Thickener

Cook white beans – I usually cook about 2 pounds of great northern white beans following my regular method – and then after the beans have cooled, measure 1 heaping cup into freezer containers – or use plastic sandwich bags (see note below) – and tuck them into your freezer. When you’re making a soup or stew, grab one of your bean bags from the freezer the morning of your delicious soup or stew is to be served. I don’t have a microwave in my little kitchen but perhaps this could be done in a microwave.

By dinner time, your beans are thawed and ready to add to your soup. As the soup cooks, the beans will break down and make the soup or stew creamy rather than just broth.

Yes, you can used canned beans but why would you want to? The savings really add up when using dry beans vs. canned beans.

Go-Gingham-dry-beans-vs-canned.gifPlus, if you’re using canned beans, here’s what you get.

Canned beans
Here’s what’s in a can of beans: a heaping cup of beans plus liquid. The liquid includes a lot of salt – and other ingredients you don’t need.

Note: I like to use open top bags which cost much less than the zip top bag. Simply use a twist tie to secure the top. Rinse, dry, and recycle them when you’re done or use them again.

Gluten free soup thickener: white beans
I soak my beans overnight and then cook them in my slow-cooker in the morning.

That’s the secret! White beans also make a nice lunch – a packet of white beans sauteed with olive oil, fresh sage, and garlic. Yum!

How do you like to thicken soups or stews?

Go Gingham related links:

Why I cook with dried beans – complete with money saving chart!
How to cook with dried beans – easy and you can use a slow-cooker
Why the “can” is bad in canned beans
Vegetarian chili made with dried beans – of course!
Very easy and tasty white bean dip
Corn and black bean salad – made with dried beans
Spicy hummus – yes, spicy and made from dried beans!

9 thoughts on “Gluten Free Soup Thickener

  1. I’ve thickened some of my soups by pureeing some of the beans or veggies (brocolli or carrots for example) with some of the cooking liquid. Softened carrots give a very creamy texture.


    1. Kris, those are great ways to thicken soup, too. I like the bean option because I don’t have to get out another kitchen tool (or piece of equipment) to make it work. The white beans break down on their own.
      Your soups sound delish! Thanks, Kris. 🙂


  2. Sara, We love beans.
    If I need a quick soup thickener (usually at the end of cooking the soup); I grab my box of instant mashed potatoes and add just a bit. Just a little goes a long way for perfectly thickened soup. Also helps if I’ve gone overboard with the salt or spices. =)

    Thanks for your insightful tips.


    1. Sherrie,
      You’re so welcome ~
      Good idea on the instant mashed potatoes. That sounds like another good alternative to flour or corn starch.
      Thanks for the tip! 🙂 Glad to hear I’m not the only cook who goes overboard on the spices…


  3. Catching up on my reading this morning (as I go through a very backed-up inbox)–Love this tip. Saving for future reference! Hope you’ve had a great holiday season and that the new year brings you great opportunities!


    1. Rita, I know you’re gluten free so this will be a good one for you! We’re not gluten free here but my mom is so I’m thoughtful to it.
      I like how the beans add creaminess much better than the flour. We use only whole wheat flour which can be rather thick and not creamy.
      Happy New Year to you and your family!!


    1. Jason,
      Good to know. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a *white* sweet potato. All the sweet potatoes I buy are more yellowish/orange. Do you think a regular potato would work the same way?
      Thanks for the tip, Jason.


  4. A white potato works well as a thickener, but choose a starchy potato variety better suited for baking, (Russet or Idaho) which will quickly break down during cooking to provide thickening, over a waxy potato variety (Yukon Gold) which are better suited for boiling and keeping their shape.
    -karen g


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