Tuesday, June 19, 2012

EASY, Frugal Replacement for Canned Cream of Soup

Have you ever read the ingredients on a can of Campbell's Cream of....Soup?  I hadn't until today...Wow!  Lately I have been paying more attention to WHERE my food comes from and WHAT unnecessary ingredients are in it, in other words, what words can I pronounce??  According to the Campbell's Food Service website, a can of Cream of Chicken Soup consists of:

Chicken Stock, Water, Vegetable Oil, Modified Food Starch, Wheat Flour, Cream (Milk), Contains Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Dehydrated Cooked Chicken, Soy Protein Concentrate, Monosodium Glutamate, Chicken Fat, Yeast Extract, Flavoring, Beta Carotene for Color, Chicken Flavor, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Butter (Milk).

I started by trying to figure out what some of the ingredients were that didn't sound like stuff I eat!

Modified food starch is a chemically altered food ingredient made from starch. Because many starches may contain gluten or have been contaminated with gluten, be on the look out for this ingredient in many of the foods sold today if you are eliminating gluten from your diet.

How It's Made

There are numerous ways that food starch can be modified; the method varies based on the starch itself and on what it will be used for. These are some methods of producing a modified starch:
  • Treating it with acid
  • Roasting it
  • Treating it with sodium hydroxide
  • Treating it with potassium hydroxide
  • Adding a positive electrical charge
  • Treating it with emulsifiers
  • Treating it with starch ether 
What the hell??  Okay....moving along...Next...

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food ingredient that's "generally recognized as safe," the use of MSG remains controversial. For this reason, when MSG is added to food, the FDA requires that it be listed on the label. 

According to the truth in labeling, the risks associated with ingestion of (or even contact with) monosodium glutamate and other ingredients that contain MSG are simple and straightforward:
Brain damage
Endocrine disorders (obesity and reproductive disorders)
Behavior disorders
Adverse reactions      
            Neurodegenerative disease


Chicken Fat ...Umm....YUCK!!!  I throw all of that away when I cook and debone chicken!!


A known side effect of ingesting beta carotene is a yellow or orange discoloration of the skin. Commonly, this discoloration is found in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Ummm...now I'm gonna turn orange (like Snookie) for eating soup??  OMGosh!
Okay, I'm done!  There are almost 20 ingredients in that can of soup, which I use to add to various recipes, so that would mean my casserole has around 5,967 (may be an exaggeration) ingredients?!?  This led me to wonder if I could just make it myself.  Literally seconds after typing "Cream of Chicken Soup Recipe" into my search engine, I had a 3 minute recipe for it.  I just made the equivalent of 5 cans of the stuff to throw in the freezer while I was heating up leftover chicken and rice for my (and the dogs') lunch.  I boiled a chicken Sunday to use for the dogs meals as well as some chicken and rice that I had been craving.  I always add the ingredients along with the chicken so I can use the stock simply because...I'm cheap, not to mention homemade chicken broth tastes SO much better!  I ended up getting 4, 3-cup containers of chicken stock and 5 "cans" (1.5 cups each) of Cream of Chicken Soup just by using what would have been thrown away from my boiled chicken.  I wanted to share my cheap and easy recipe with you...well, technically I adapted it from a recipe on milehimama's website.  Anyway, let me know what you think!  

Cream of Chicken Soup
Put 2 T butter in a pan.  Melt it.
Add 2 T of flour.  Stir it around until the flour is absorbed and it is starting to clump, about 1 minute.
Add 1 C of chicken broth/milk mixture.  A note about this:  I made a larger quantity than what this recipe makes so I ended up using 4 parts chicken stock to 1 part milk.  This is to your liking.  I did add a little more water as it thickened, but I think that's because it is in my nature to deviate from recipes! :) Whisk it in and heat until smooth. If you stir in a little liquid at a time, letting the flour absorb it, it helps to keep lumps from forming.  Cook and stir about 3 minutes, until smooth and heated through.  The longer you cook the thicker it will get.  Salt to taste.  You can add chicken bits if you like.  DONE!  How many ingredients did that use??  Butter, flour, water, stock, milk?  5??  We could even break the stock down farther but it would still be less than half AND they would be REAL food ingredients!  

Cream of mushroom – cook up some chopped mushrooms in the butter, then sprinkle with the flour and proceed.  I'm making this sometime this week as well.
Cream of celery – soften finely chopped celery in the butter, then proceed.


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