Home Chef Andrea A. asks: Is using Cream of Mushroom Soup in a recipe really the height of bad cooking, as suggested by The Food Network?
First of all, keep in mind that Food Network will get awfully high-and-mighty about “fresh, organic” ingredients in their stand-and-stir shows, while playing ads for frozen pizza between episodes…so there’s that.
That doesn’t mean it can’t taste good. My mother made a classic green bean dish for Thanksgiving that involved this canned-soup shortcut. I was awesome! But then, holiday dishes like that are a kind of familiar comfort food, there’s the nostalgia factor. It was complimented by other holiday dishes that involved more kitchen expertise, made with fresh ingredients.
Contemporary Home Chefs and cooks have a much wider range of ingredients and methods at their disposal than a 1970s American housewife did.
Is it “bad cooking”? No, it’s just lazy cooking. The result is not unlike you’d get at a fast food restaurant that also depends on cheap canned and frozen-food shortcuts. In which case, why bother to cook at home?
For myself, I like making soups and soup stocks from scratch. The effort is rewarding. (it’s not that hard, it’s fun to do, and it makes the house smell good) But like most people, regardless of what overpaid Food TV “Celebrities” think, I’m not above using convenient shortcuts, guilt-free, when I have eight dishes on my menu, and it’s a quick alternative for a side dish.
So, I wouldn’t call it the “height of bad cooking”, but there are better natural options that are not only much lower in sodium, but have vastly better flavor.
To make your own, use my recipe for Garlic Mushroom Cream Sauce, using whole milk instead of the heavy whipping cream:
Garlic Mushroom Cream Sauce
- 2 strips apple-wood bacon, chopped
- 8 oz white mushrooms, freshly sliced
- 1 stick butter
- 4 lg cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbs. coarse black pepper
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Mix all ingredients, except cream, and roast at 350F until mushrooms are dark and leathery. Combine these ingredients with cream in a blender and puree until smooth.