Ask a Chef: Kevin Archer

How can I create a cream-free base for creamy soups and sauces?

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“How can I create a cream-free base for creamy soups and sauces?” We asked Kevin Archer, who heads the Compassionate Cuisine program at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) in Saugerties, N.Y., a haven for abandoned and abused farm animals; the program teaches how to avoid using animal products in the kitchen without skimping on nutrition or flavor. Here’s what he suggests. â?¢  Cashews or almonds work in a variety of soups; pecans are especially suited to butternut squash soup. Use one part raw shelled nuts to three parts water or vegetable stock; grind the nuts in a high-speed blender, then add the liquid. Blend until completely liquid, with no pulp. Use in soup as you would any dairy or nondairy milk. â?¢  Cut dense vegetables, such as potatoes, butternut squash, or celery root, into 1-inch pieces. Sauté in oil in large soup pot; add diced onion, followed by garlic and dried herbs, such as oregano or rosemary. Continue to sauté until the veggies soften. Run the mixture through a blender with just enough water or vegetable stock for the desired consistency; return to the soup pot an additional 10 to 15 minutes. â?¢  The simplest method for producing a cream-style soup is to use coconut milk. For every 2 quarts of water or vegetable stock, add one can of coconut milk. The subtle flavor is perfect for cream of mushroom soup or tomato soup.