It has become a problem for cooks trying to make dinner for $1 a serving, or $5 per meal, when a can of Campbell’s is $1.29 or more. We could save by creating our own cream-of-something soup (or white sauce).
When Campbell’s introduced cream of mushroom soup in 1934, home cooks soon realized the concentrated soup could be used as a quick and easy sauce or gravy.
Soon after, cooks started adding cream-of-something soups to casseroles, catapulting the budget-stretching dish into 1950s stardom.
Over the ensuing decades, casseroles continued to appear frequently on American tables, popular for both ease of preparation and low cost. Recently, however, the increased price of canned cream-of-something soups has become a problem for cooks trying to make dinner for $1 a serving, or $5 per meal, when a can of Campbell’s is $1.29 or more.
We could save by creating our own cream-of-something soup (or white sauce) by melting butter in a pan, adding flour to create a roux, slowly adding milk, stirring constantly until thickened and then adding seasonings. Admittedly, this adds quite a bit of time to casserole preparation.
Fortunately, there’s a recipe that can be made ahead and stored, then whipped together quickly. You mix dry ingredients, including cornstarch, powdered milk, bouillon and spices, then store in a jar or container with tight-fitting lid.
When you need cream-of-something soup, you just scoop out 1/2 cup of the mix, add water and cook until thickened. Instead of $1.29 a serving, you’ll spend about 40 cents a serving. As a bonus, you’ll control the additives in your food and make less trash for the landfill.
This recipe can be adjusted to fit your own tastes — less bullion for less sodium, for example. If you like cream of mushroom soup, you could add to the dry mix dried mushrooms that have been chopped or ground in a blender or food processor. Recipe can be halved.
Cream-of-Something Soup Mix
4 cups powdered milk
2 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken bouillon powder
4 tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon marjoram, optional
Combine, mix well, store in airtight container. Yields the equivalent of at least 15 cans of condensed soup.
To use, mix a scant 1/2 cup of the dry mix with 1 1/4 cups water in saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until bubbly and thickened. Add 1 tablespoon butter, if desired, stirring until combined. This equals 1 can undiluted soup.
Note: To make into soup, add an additional cup water or milk (or more to taste), along with cooked meat and frozen, canned or cooked vegetables. Stir until heated through.