It is my belief that all convenience foods are based on something that used to be homemade. Frozen waffles, boxed cookies, fully-cooked entrees; once upon a time, a home cook made them from scratch. Cream soups have been in the grocery stores since 1934 when the Campbell’s company introduced Cream of Mushroom soup to the masses. What on earth did Suzie Homemaker do before that fateful year? I’ll tell you. She made a bechamel sauce.
Realistically, we don’t always have time to whip up a sauce from scratch, but if we still want to use something we have made, there are some solutions.
1. Make a pantry mix ahead of time. This can be stored in an airtight container for a few months.
- 2 cups nonfat powdered milk (this is not instant dry milk)
- ¾ cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- ¼ cup instant chicken bouillon (Herb Ox brand is gluten free)
- 2 Tbsp dried onion flakes
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½ tsp ground white or black pepper
- Optional: if available, put freeze dried celery or dried mushrooms into a food processor until powder. Add either to the dry mix instead of adding fresh to the reconstituted mix.
- Combine all ingredients.
- Store in an airtight glass jar.
- To make: combine ⅓ cup mix and 1¼ cups water in a blender.
- Mix until smooth, then transfer to a pan.
- Heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
- Add sauteed mushrooms, cooked chicken or sauteed celery to get the desired flavor.
2. Bottle your own soup. I did a post last year on Home Canned Cream of Mushroom soup. I have since used all of the pints I bottled and am looking for a good deal on mushrooms so I can make another batch.
To make cream of chicken or celery soup, use chicken stock instead of beef, add chicken or celery for the mushrooms.3. You can make a bunch of White Sauce Butter Balls and freeze them. Then, when you need some cream soup, you can make some up quickly.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups butter
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp basil
- Combine all of the ingredients.
- Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out tablespoon sized heaps onto a cookie sheet.
- Freeze until solid and then put into a sealing plastic bag or other container.
- To use, heat up about 2-4 balls (depending on how thick you want it) with 1⅓ cups milk (or ⅔ cup milk and ⅔ cup broth), cooked mushrooms, chicken or cooked celery.
- Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.
There. If you want cream of broccoli or cream of asparagus or whatever other cream of anything there is available, use your imagination and substitute.
I am not going to tell you that I don’t have a case of cream soups in my pantry. They are just too convenient not to use. I am just giving you some homemade alternatives that I have used and think are pretty nifty.