Monday, November 8, 2010

Kicking The Can(ned Cream of Mushroom Soup): A Healthy Alternative + 2 BONUS Recipes!

Canned Cream of Mushroom soup is a staple in the cupboards of my region. It is the heart and soul of  a myriad of casseroles. We make Green Bean Casserole with it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Dinners. It livens up Beefy Macaroni and Cheese for a quick supper on a busy night, something known in our house as  Surprise, It's Supper.  It's one of those magical ingredients that you can just dump in with something from each food group and voila! dinner is served. You'll find it in Chicken, Rice and Broccoli Casserole, and Poor Man's Steak and in at least half of any church fundraiser cookbook's recipes. And who hasn't tossed some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a crockpot and smothered them with a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup for Sunday dinner? 

Of course, the Holy Grail of condensed cream of mushroom soups is Campbell's. I have a delicious recipe that my mother in law shared with me for Burrito Casserole that is simply to die for, and even though (when I used to buy canned soups) I would buy the cheapo creamo's for most applications, I would always buy Campbell's to make the hallowed Burrito Casserole. It just really was that much better.

Now, however, I make most of everything from scratch in order to avoid all the chemicals in most commercially prepared foods. It can be time consuming, but I absolutely love it. Sure, there are some days that I wish I could just make a box of Hamburger Helper and be done with it, but most days I love making things myself. Burrito Casserole was talked of last night, so tonight I had to make it. I didn't have taco seasoning or cream of mushroom soup, two essential ingredients. But I had the stuff to make them with.

I searched online for a cream of something soup recipe that didn't call for bouillion or powdered milk (I used to make a mix that was super easy to use, but have since quit using bouillion and powdered milk) and ended up combining a couple recipes, but since I used my cell and can't find the sites again I went to, I'm going to have to try to recreate it from memory. Wish me luck...

  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 c flour (I used Ultragrain whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2-3 c milk
  • 10 oz beef broth or stock, no msg
  • 1/2 c finely chopped mushrooms (more or less to taste, I used Organic Mini Bellas)
  • 1 tsp refined coconut oil (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • sea salt to taste
In a small sauce pan, heat beef broth and mushrooms, simmering until time to add to soup. Meanwhile, in a 2 qt sauce pan, melt butter and then whisk in flour (will be thick). Add about half of the milk slowly, whisking. Continue whisking until smooth, cook until it begins to thicken, stirring or whisking occasionally. Add beef broth and mushrooms, whisking until smooth. Add seasonings and coconut oil, combining well. Add more milk or broth, as necessary, until soup reaches desired consistency.
Really simple and very tasty! And probably very forgiving. You could use chicken broth or even vegetable or mushroom broth if you didn't have beef, but I really liked the flavor the beef broth imparted, subtle yet rich. I don't like mushrooms, really, so I whacked them pretty well into teeny, tiny pieces. If you like mushrooms and want larger chunks or even whole slices that would work too. I think simmering the mushrooms in the broth draws out the mushroom flavor, which gives the soup that classic cream of mushroom flavor and not mushrooms-in-white-sauce. The can of beef broth that I had was 14 oz...I used four ounces in the meat mixture for my Burrito Casserole, but you could use the whole can, really, if you didn't want four ounces of beef broth sitting around. Of course, switch the ingredients up a bit and you have a basic Cream of  Something soup...broccoli, chicken, celery...whatever you want to cream up. 

And now, just because I'm nice like that...I'm going to give you my Burrito Casserole recipe. We have this on a rotation for Christmas meals at my mother in law's. It's a tradition. It's amazing. It was totally love at first bite!


  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning (see recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1 pkg small tortilla shells, or  homemade
  • 1 can mushrooms, or desired amount of sliced, fresh mushrooms
  • 1 large (or small works too) can refried beans or equivalent amount of homemade
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or above recipe)
  • 2-4 cups shredded cheese (sharp cheddar is terrific but any yellow cheese or blend works well)
Brown hamburger and drain if necessary. Add seasoning, mushrooms and beans and combine well. In a small bowl, combine soup and sour cream, then spread half of mixture on the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish. Fill tortillas with meat and bean mixture, roll and place in pan. Cover filled tortillas with remaining soup mixture, then cover with cheese (I just use 2 cups of cheese usually, but 4 is very, very delicious!). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until center is bubbly and cheese is slightly browned. Can serve with salsa, and taco toppings if you want, but we just eat it like this.
I made this tonight with some fabulous homemade whole wheat tortillas (thanks Heather and Nancy!), which were made with freshly (as in from the mill to the mixing bowl fresh) ground soft whole wheat. Absolutely delicious and satisfying!

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt (or garlic powder and salt to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
Mix and use as one package of taco seasoning mix.

Really, there isn't much that is in the grocery store that you can't make yourself. If you like cooking and love a challenge, start making your own convenience foods and condiments. Use the freshest, healthiest ingredients you can find and afford and you will be amazed at the difference in taste...not to mention that your body will be amazed at the lack of chemicals to contend with!