Have you looked at the ingredients on the back of a can of soup lately? The list is long and sometimes I have a hard time comprehending the need for so many ingredients. Here are two examples that are a staple in many casserole recipes: Cream of Chicken Soup and Cream of Mushroom Soup:
First the Cream of Chicken:
There are 30 ingredients in there! My biggest concern is the MSG (in addition to a few other forms of naturally occurring or hidden MSG such as Yeast Extract and “spices”). Those who are gluten or soy free certainly can’t eat this and they even add sugar to something that probably doesn’t need it. In addition, the packaging is a can, which contains BPA, something linked to some pretty serious health problems.
Let’s see about the Cream of Mushroom:
This list is much shorter, 13 ingredients, but it certainly isn’t any better. Although this one doesn’t contain sugar, it still contains various forms of MSG, soy, and wheat.
Now, if you’re not from the south or didn’t grow up with pot lucks and casseroles, you may not ever cross paths with recipes that include canned/condensed soups. For those of us that do, what are the alternatives?
I, for one, certainly am not going to make the equivalent product from scratch, but I’ve found a good alternative at the grocery store: Pacific brand condensed soups. Let’s take a look at their ingredients:
Cream of Chicken soup:
There are ten ingredients here, all of which I am familiar with and could actually purchase individually: water, chicken broth, créme fraîche, chicken, rice starch, rice flour, sea salt, chicken fat, garlic powder, and onion powder. Those are pretty clean ingredients and the product is gluten free, soy free, and organic. A big plus for me is that it comes in a tetra pack so it is also BPA free. What about the mushroom soup?
Cream of Mushroom Soup:
Here we have only 8 ingredients: water, mushrooms, créme fraîche, rice starch, rice flour, sea salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Again, no MSG, soy, wheat, or BPA in the packaging.
But how do they taste?
Recently I made a casserole to take to some friends. I also invented another casserole to test them out for myself (I’ll share that recipe Thursday). They both turned out excellent. I would say these taste much better and didn’t change the consistency of the final product at all. I didn’t even have to go to a specialty store to find them. I found this right next to the broth tetra packs and near the condensed canned soups at my regular supermarket (HEB). You can also order them from amazon, although they are much cheaper in the store.
If you’re looking for a simple way to improve the health of an old recipe that calls for condensed soup, I highly recommend you try out this easy substitution.
Check back Thursday for a new recipe for Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Casserole!