Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cream Soup Substitute, Take One

So for my birthday, Matt's daughter and ex-wife were kind enough to pick me up a copy of Simply in Season at the farmer's market. I'm not often very excited by birthday presents - I'm afraid I'm terribly finicky and difficult to shop for - but this was a very good gift.

Among the recipes in it - which so far I haven't had a moment to try, but it's bound to come up eventually - was what they called a "Cream Soup Substitute." Which is a fantastic idea! How many times have I wanted to make a childhood comfort food but run up against the canned cream soup as an ingredient? (Countless!) I hate them. God knows where the original ingredients come from, and they are loaded with additives and enough sodium to choke a horse.

Simply in Season's version, though, called for dry milk and bouillon powder. There was a time when I used a great deal of both those items in my kitchen, but I'm trying to move away from them now; they're both just too processed for my taste.

So today, I whipped up my own version, and to tell you the truth - it wasn't bad. I used onion powder to give the flavor a little body, and whole wheat flour as a thickener because that's my preference. If you'd prefer to avoid the added fat of the butter, though, you can always thicken with cornstarch instead. Just skip the butter-melting, flour-adding stage and heat cornstarch - half as much as the flour - directly into the milk until it thickens.

Cream Soup Substitute

¼ cup butter
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1½ cups milk

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour and spices until blended together. Add milk and heat until thickened.

This came out slightly thinner than my target. In the future, I might add an extra tablespoon or two of flour. But otherwise, it came out just about right for my tastes. Certainly not as salty as the commercial stuff, but it definitely tasted more like actual food. Since the recipe for today called for cream of mushroom soup, I actually added in about ¼ cup of sliced mushrooms while it thickened, too.

Not local today: Every danged thing except the mushrooms. Sigh. Sometimes you've just got to use things up.

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