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Dec 18, 2009 09:08 PM

Oatmeal as soup thickener

I have yet to try this, but saw a carrot soup on TV that was thickened with oatmeal. I don't know if it was ground into powder before adding to the soup pot or just thrown in as is - the finished soup was a puree. This sounds worth a try, although it would still be tempting to add a LITTLE dairy for richness.

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  1. I sometimes use instant potato flakes as a thickener.

    1. I would think the oatmeal would be ground, since it was a puree.
      Atholl Brose, while not a soup, uses ground oats as a base.
      There are lots of soup recipes that call for steel cut or rolled oats, as is, though, if you like savory oat dishes.
      I'm with you on the dairy.

      1. Here's a recipe for cream of vegetable soup (carrot, celery, cauliflower, etc) that uses oatmeal. It isn't really specific but it seems you just throw the oatmeal in then blend. Doesn't specify what type of oats though

        They do use a little dairy.

        There's a restaurant near me that serves a Czech chicken soup with oats that I want to try. I'm curious how the oats are used. I never considered it might be a 'creamed' type of soup.

        10 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          Wait ... here it is ... rolled oats

          Soups Thickened with Oatmeal! Creamy and Healthful, Too

          They have
          - Incredible Creamy Clam Chowder
          - Creamy Carrot Soup
          - Portuguese Potato-Garlic Soup

          None use dairly. Sounds like a swell idea. I'm going to have to try one ... maybe the clam chowder.

          1. re: rworange

            That clam chowder recipe cuts my NE purist clam chowder lovin' soul to the quick.
            The Portuguese Potato-Garlic soup has some culinary value, however, I don't know why it's called "Portuguese." I don't think the Portuguese are so into oats.;-)

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              Oh, I shouldn't have looked at that "chowder" recipe...I consider it part of my penance for the day. The horrors!

              1. re: Karl S

                Ya know, I was intrigued by the whole thing and made the creamy clam chowder today ... with oatmeal ... and cauliflower ... and no dairy.

                It was incredibly good ... and I am a New England clam chowder fan who spent the first two and a half decades of my life in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine.

                The regulars on the SF Bay Area board can vouch for the hissy fits I've thrown because of so few places serving decent New England clam chowder.

                It had the consistancy of any chowder thickened by a starch such as potato or cornstarch. The recipe in that link is totally off though in terms of proportion.

                This has six cups of boullioun to start which gets increased by adding a whole head of caulflower and a cup of oatmeal. One stinking tiny 6.5 can of chopped clams ... about the size of a can of tuna ... well, that just isn't going to do it.

                I would think that half a cup of oatmeal would be better and make the chowder less thick.

                I didn't want to throw a lot of money in this so I started with chicken boullioun since I had some bargain chicken in the freezer. The clam flavor would be upped by starting with a fish boullion or maybe 3 cups fish boullion and 3 cups clam juice.

                I just have zero patience with cooking and started getting the kitchen vapors about half way through this. So I wasn't as careful as I should have been watching it.

                The last hour calls for the chowder to be simmered slowly and stirred every now and then. Well, to me that translates to "what the hell do they mean by slow simmer" and "I forgot to stir often enough"

                So it started to cling to the bottom of the pan and I did catch it before it burned. I didn't cook it the full hour though.

                A blender would have been better than a hand mixer, but it was still fine though there was a bit of identifiable cauliflower here and there. BTW, this would also make an excellent ... and healthy ... 'cream' of cauliflower soup.

                I haven't added extra clams yet because I want to see how it thickens in the fridge. Oatmeal can get ... solid.

                I put some in the freezer to see if it can be reheated from a frozen state and still taste good.

                I think this would definately work with dairy. In my case, I'd use fat free milk., cut the oatmeal in half or even down to a 1/4 cup. That might make it closer to to a cream-based soup. Or upping the boullioun / clam juice would do that.

                I can't think of the last time I've made a 'cream of' soup mainly because if the artery-clogging fat hit (and yet I can eat a pint of Haagen Daz in one sitting).

                I really, really like this idea. I'm definately going to branch out. Oatmeal is a much healthier thickner than potato or cornstarch. This is exciting. Thanks for asking the question graygarious.

                1. re: rworange

                  Cornstarch or roux don't belong in the best New England clam chowder. I've beheld way too many chowders that look and taste like they were like a somewhat (barely somewhat) loose oatmeal porridge, so the idea of using oats in chowder is too repellent/vile for words. Just (diced) potato, please; dairy (cream, milk, pat of butter) depends on sub-region.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    Yes. But someone who can't have dairy would have a pretty good clam chowder.

                    I enjoy clam chowder with cream and butter ... and a bit of bacon ... or better yet salt pork. . But my arteries don't. I'm more likely to make it with non fat milk.

                    I think that carelessness leads to that loose porridge consistancy ... which I don't like either. Come on ... anyone using cornstarch, potatoes or flour for thickening is trying to cut corners.

                    I think a skilled cook could play with the proportions of clam juice oats, etc to get a consistancy close to a dairy-based clam chowder. The cauliflower probably isn't necessary as it upped the thickness.

                    Anyway, I think oats could be effectively used for thickening by someone who wanted a healthier chowder.

                    And in less iconic cream soups, oats will definately work. You don't hear heated arguments about cream of carrot soup, you know.

                    1. re: rworange

                      No, because it's not worthy of them!

                      Rhode Island clam chowder is often dairy-free, btw. It's an iconic sub-regional version.

                      No bacon in clam chowder. Please.

                      No oats. Vile. And I like oats. But they should not be within 10 feet of a clam.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Rhode Island and Manhattan versions are not clam chowder, no matter what the deluded people in those unfortunate areas might think. They are clam soup

                        Anyway, I was mainly curious about using oatmeal as a thickener. I was wondering what would happen to the oats, how the soup flavor might be changed.

                        Of the recipes I found ... I don't like carrot soup under the best circumstances. Potato soup is fine, but cauliflower just seemed like a healtheir way to go and I like clam chowder.

                        It was sort of a fear-factor thing too... holy neptune ... I mean clam chowder out of oatmeal and cauliflower .. it is like watching a bad accident ... somehow I was just drawn by what could have been a major wreck.

                        I'm still sort of anticipating taking out what is in the fridge and possibly finding solid clam chowder scrapple ... if that happens maybe I can cut it in pieces and fry it in bacon fat.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Ok, I have removed it from the clam chowder category into the really excellent 'cream' soup category.

                          The soup did not go oatmeal solid as I had feared. I did add two more cans of clams with liquid which removed it from the close to congee category into the light 'cream' soup category.

                          While I was at it, I cut up some excellent sage and thyme chicken sausages and added them. While given my cooking abilities, this isn't saying much, the soup is probably one of the best I've ever made ... and healthy to boot.

                          While the cauliflower bits are evident because of my cooking error, there is not one trace of the oats left and not even a hint of oatmeal flavor.

                          Given the recipe I first followed had way too much oatmeal, it does give me the idea that I could probably make congee with oatmeal instead of rice. I may give this a try next following a jook recipe and substituting the rice for oats. I've always wanted to make savory oatmeal and until this point I was never successful.

                        2. re: Karl S

                          "But they should not be within 10 feet of a clam." LOL.

                          I think oats definitely have some application for thickening soups and this has been an interesting thread and a learning moment for me, and I'm all for a healthier soup thickener, hell, I even like oats, but I have to say, I'm with you Karl: forget the oatmeal-clam chowder, puh-leeze.

                          If you want dairy-free clam chowder, just make it RI style.

          2. grind 'em unless you want oats floating around in your soup...but it works like a charm!

            1. Definitely grind it into oat flour for this purpose...I have a great little old Quaker Oats Wholegrain giveaway booklet and it offers some chowder/soup recipes that call for the oats to be ground up in blender and then added to the soup to thicken. Hey, let us know how it works, okay? I've been "into" carrot soups lately and am kind of stuck on carrot/ginger soup but would love some other recs!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Val

                Definately do NOT grind it to flour for this purpose

                I just made the Creamy clam chowder above using rolled oats as the thickener. I just dumped a cup of whole rolled oats into the soup. These are long-cooking soups so the oats just melt. Think long-cooking oatmeal.

                1. re: rworange

                  Well, but most carrot soups are not long-cooking...that I've seen...Greygarious does not give us the recipe to look we don't know. But, thanks rwo!

                  1. re: Val

                    Both links I gave above have carrot soup recipes thickened with rolled oats and not oat flour. One would think that the recipe would specify that.

                    Like my soup, they both bring the ingredients to a boil and simmer ... one 15-20 minutes and the other 30 minutes.

                    Shortly after boiling the oats were no longer identifiable. The soup was just thick.

                    The cauliflower is what took a long time to cook for my soup and because of my not watching it, I stopped the process too soon, so that is the only reason I think I had any identifiable cauliflower bits.

                    This is the same principle as congee, though the oats are only a small component and not the main ingredient. Oats are not as hard, thick and long-cooking as rice. Would anyone grind the rice to flour before making congee? You just don't need to cook as long for oats.

                    That first carrot soup recipe was correct though ... 1/2 cup of oats at most ... and proably 1/3 - 1/4 cup would do.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I made the soup today. I had a rather small mark-down head of cauliflower so I cut everything down by a fourth. Like rworange, I cooked it on a bit higher heat than I should have, so there was some sticking on the bottom, which made for a brownish color. I did cook it for the full hour. But from force of habit, I'd already spooned in some chicken base before realizing I had intended to use clam base. So I scrapped the clam chowder plan this time around. Plan B: curry powder, celery leaves, leftover turkey breast, and a splash of Mr. Yoshida's, a teriyaki-like cooking sauce. This made the color even less appealing, but the taste is quite good. I didn't grind the old-fashioned oats first, but could not detect the texture once the soup was pureed. However, I could identify the oat taste and added a little powdered sour cream, which covered it up, For me, some sort of actual dairy is needed if I'm going to describe something as creamy. I used 3/4 cup of oats for a pot of soup that yielded a generous 3 pints. Time will tell how much it sets up after chilling, but it can always be diluted with more chicken broth. Next time, the clams!

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I had a soup from a local Czech restaurant that includes oatmeal in chicken soup. It acted as a thickener without the oat taste.

                        I'm currently playing with oatmeal congee. I started with a recipe by Mark Bittman - Savory Oatmeal with Scallions and Soy Sauce

                        What I am aiming for is oatmeal jook

                        I took the recipe and subbed chicken stock for water, eliminated the soy sauce (boxed stock had enough salt) and added ginger and mushrooms.

                        It was actually very tasty, but not quite jook. Truth in advertising ... it was savory oatmeal.

                        The thing is that there wasn't enough water and, as a result couldn't be long-cooked ... which is what changes the character of the rice/congee.

                        So today I'm playing with adding a lot more water and basing it on a recipe for Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Porridge

                        However I'm going to try oatmeal, sweet potatoes and ginger. Will report back on how this works.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Ok, I perfected my basic oatmeal congee and came up with a fabulous recipe for sweet potato oatmeal jook with fresh ginger and tangerine peel