Swap Heavy Cream For Canned Milk For Silkier Slow Cooker Soups

Slow cooked soups are the ultimate hands-off meal — easy to prepare early in the day and then enjoy in the evening. However, if you're making a creamy soup, there may be a few extra steps required to avoid a curdled mess. Heavy cream left simmering for hours, even low and slow in a cooker, can quickly lead to the dairy separating and becoming grainy. 

To avoid this, you can take the time to add or blend in the cream at the end, but that's additional effort that many home cooks would like to skip when dinnertime comes around. Instead, you can steer clear of this whole conundrum by turning to a helpful swap using an unlikely pantry staple: evaporated milk.

Evaporated milk is made from fresh dairy that has been cooked down until over half of the water is removed. Since it has less water than heavy cream, it's more stable when used in cooking. This allows for it to blend perfectly into recipes without breaking down or clumping, and create a creamy final dish. 

Swapping in equal parts evaporated milk for heavy cream allows you to mix up all the ingredients at the beginning of the process and then let your slow cooker take over with no extra steps or hassle at the end. Open a can and you're one step closer to enjoying your meal.

How to use evaporated milk for making soup

Evaporated milk is a great go-to for easy and creamy slow cooker soups, like a cajun-style corn chowder, a creamy cauliflower soup, or a shrimp and corn chowder. You could even combine two comforting favorites — soup and pasta — by whipping up a batch of lasagna soup in the slow cooker. You're also not limited to the slow cooker — use the trick for your favorite stovetop recipes.

Using evaporated milk in place of heavy cream can create a lighter soup overall, too. Heavy cream has five times more fat than evaporated milk, along with two-and-a-half times more calories. So if you're looking to make a leaner chowder, for example, this swap can easily make it less fatty. Evaporated milk can also be used to replace fresh milk for a more luscious texture, but if you're keeping an eye on nutrition, the evaporated variety has over twice the calories and fat of whole milk. 

When using this trick, just keep in mind that an unopened can of room temp evaporated milk has the ideal conditions for mixing into a warm recipe. So, skip refrigerating it because, like heavy cream, if it's cold and stirred into a very hot dish, it can cause separation.

Also, evaporated milk doesn't have the same attributes like heavy cream to thicken the final texture of the dish. So, if you want that quality, consider adding in your favorite thickener, such as cornstarch or flour, to create the perfect mouthfeel.