Take one glance at the back of a cream of chicken (cream of mushroom, cream of whatever) and you’ll see an ingredient list full of:
- Unhealthy oils
- MSG (mono-sodium glutamate), which is a known carcinogen, endocrine disrupter and killer of brain cells, which may also be linked to the development of cardiac problems, kidney problems, neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. HELLO!
- Artificial flavoring (associated with nervous system depression, dizziness,chest pain, headaches, fatigue, allergies, brain damage, seizures,nausea, and some can also cause genetic defects, tumors, bladder cancer, and many other types of cancers.)
Of course, one would have to eat more than a can or two of these foods in order to have a noticeable effect on the body. But why, when there are so many unavoidable toxins in our lives, would we want to knowingly eat these things? There are only a few things on my “never eat on purpose” list, and this is one of them.
Cream of Whatever entered the market right before the turn of the 1900s, but the food industry later made several “improvements,” AKA chemically engineered ingredients to cut costs and add addictive factors. So what do we do with all those delicious recipes handed down from grandma that call for Cream of Whatever soup? Here are a few options:
Good (well, much better than a can of Cream of Frankenstein)
The following makes about the same as a10-oz. can
3 Tablespoons real butter (no margarine, grass-fed preferred, can also use a vegan substitute)
3 Tablespoons unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup LIQUID (several options depending on what type of Cream of Something you’re making. If you use milk, you can also sub in unsweetened almond or cashew milk)
Additional seasoning depending on the flavor you want (see below)
- Melt butter in saucepan.
- Whisk in flour and salt.
- Cook on medium until it begins to bubble.
- Stir in your choice of milk, stock or a combination of the two, using a wire whisk to prevent lumps.
- Cook until smooth and thickened.
- Cream of Tomato: use tomato juice as the liquid and add a dash each of garlic salt, dried onion, basil and oregano.
- Cream of Chicken: use half milk, half chicken broth as the liquid. Add 1/4 tsp. of sage.
- Cream of Celery: saute 1/2 cup finely chopped celery and 1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion in the butter, before adding the flour.
- Cream of Mushroom: saute 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms and 1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion in the butter, before adding the flour.
Steam cauliflower, puree it in the blender, then add to a sauce pan with spices to reduce it. There is a lot of water in steamed cauliflower, so letting some of it steam off will make a thicker additive to your recipe. I start with 1 1/2 cups of puree and let it reduce to 1 1/4 cup which is about how much is in a can of condensed soup. Be sure to season to taste, adding sea salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, and other seasonings of your choice.
If you use recipes that call for condensed soups often, you might like making a lot of this in advance and freezing it into 1 1/4 cup servings. You can measure them into sandwich bags and freeze them flat, just long enough to harden them. Then don’t forget to transfer all your cauliflower “sheets” into a freezer bag. So you’ll have a large freezer bag which holds several smaller flat bags inside of it. That way, you can grab one “can” at a time out of the freezer for use in recipes.
This is best only by my definition, because I prefer to go to as little trouble as possible when preparing meals. So I just avoid recipes with condensed soup in them! If you enjoy cooking and the above sounds like fun to you, then you can call the cauliflower idea your “best.” It’s pretty darn healthy, and a great way to sneak more vegetables in your diet.