Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Lately, I have been studying nutrition. Basically, I've been listening to some podcasts from Dishing Up Nutrition and Fat 2 Fit, both interesting and informative talk shows about nutrition and fitness. All of which has me looking for ways to avoid highly processed foods. While I'm not going to turn this into a religion, I think it would be nice to broaden the repertoire of foods to eat that don't come from a package or a can.

While deciding on the menu for this week (Mark and I plan a weekly menu, and then do our grocery shopping based on that), tonight I wanted to make Monterey Chicken Casserole. While most of the ingredients are "natural" and relatively unprocessed (chicken, rice, cheeses, chili, tomatoes, etc.), it does call for a can of cream of mushroom soup. Campbell's is my standby for that, so let's just take a look at the list of ingredients in one can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup:

  • Water
  • Mushrooms
  • Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola and/or Soybean)...don't they know?
  • Modified food starch
  • Wheat flour
  • Salt
  • Cream
  • Whey (dehydrated)
  • Monosodium Glutamate (our good friend, MSG)
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Yeast extract
  • Flavoring
  • Garlic (dehydrated)

Mmmm, love me some of that MSG and "flavoring"! What does that even mean, "flavoring"?***

So, I decided to make my own cream of mushroom soup. After searching the internet for recipes, I devised something that I thought would work. Here's my list of ingredients:

  • Mushrooms
  • Butter
  • Chicken broth (also homemade, from a real chicken - one that actually got to roam around a farm yard)
  • Cream
  • Onion (the real stuff, not dehydrated)
  • Garlic (also not dehydrated)
  • Salt
  • Flour

And that's it. Now, some might say that "flour" is a highly processed food, and it is, certainly. But like I said, let's not get all crazy about stuff.

My recipe made 3 cups, 2 of which I will freeze for future use. It only took about 30 minutes total, including prep time. It looks good...not quite as gelatinous as the stuff in the can, it's really creamy, and it has a nice mushroom-y flavor...with no added "flavoring"!

Am I going to toss out all my canned soup now? No, of course not. I don't think I have time to always make every meal completely 'fresh'. But sometimes, I might choose the alternative (especially now that I have some in the freezer...hope it freezes well).

An now, of course, I don't feel quite so bad about all the Doritos that get crushed and sprinkled on the top! 

*** Flavoring agents are substances added to food to improve the quality of taste. Because apparently the product doesn't taste good without it. And by "substance", read "chemicals" - some flavoring agents go by the names "methylphenylcarbinyl acetate" and "ethyl 3-phenylglycidate" (an epoxy compound). I think I prefer flavorings such as "mushroom" and "onion". Or , if you prefer something fancy, Agaricus bisporus and Allium cepa. 


Catherine said...

Wow, very nice, Lori! I would never have thought to make my own cream of mushroom soup - I just bought a whole case of the stuff at Harmons! Was there a big difference in the taste of the casserole? BTW, I love reading your blog and can't wait until there's a daily post (*wink*).

julie said...

Sounds really good. I've had to make my own cream of whatever now that I'm gluten free.
Basically: mushroom, onion, garlic, chicken broth, thyme, dill, celery, cream and/or milk, then thickened with cornstarch.
Always turns out a little different each time. Hurray for "real" cooking!

Dennis said...

ORALE! Very Neat. I'm going to need you to give me some schooling -- not on making mushroom soup, but on doing things on my blog. Have a great day, Lori. (Don't know how mom's photo got in here, but ...)

Lori Passey said...

Cathy - no, there wasn't a big taste's such a small part of the overall casserole. And daily posts....I think not! I wouldn't be able to make homemade soup anymore.

Julie - gluten free...that's a whole world of challenges - and yes, hooray for real cooking and real food!

Dennis - Dad, I'd love to help you out with blog stuff. Anytime!