Canned Mushroom Soup…The Root of all Evil?

Cream of Mushroom SoupHome 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:

Real Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe

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

Real Cream of Mushroom Soup recipeMix 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.

Garlic Mushroom Cream SauceFrom: Pan-Seared Filet Mignon with Garlic-Mushroom Cream sauce


~Chef Perry




Home Chef Cookbooks


Super Simple Chicken Stock with Wing Tips

Chicken Wing Stock

I go through a LOT of chicken stock in my kitchen, so I like to make my own, and this simple chicken stock is my go to.

I discovered a few years back the those chicken wing-tips that I usually cut off the wings before cooking, have a near perfect ratio of skin to bone for making a rich, delicious stock.

I keep a zip-bag in the freezer and toss my wing tips in it whenever I cook a chicken, or chicken wings. About once a month, I’m usually ready to make a half-gallon batch of stock.

Note: If you don’t have the wing-tips, you can use the leftover carcass of a rotisserie or roasted chicken, instead.

Here’s the recipe…


Chef Perry

Simple Chicken Stock

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 lb chicken wing tips
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Note: You can customize your stock based on the recipe you plan to use it for, I made my last batch specifically for some roasted mushroom udon soup, so I also added 2 Tbs of Thai fish sauce, 1 cup of roasted mushrooms, star anise, and fresh cilantro to the stock.

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Heat butter in a pan over medium heat, and sauteed thawed wing tips (sprinkle with 1/2 of the salt) until browned. Transfer to a stock pot with water.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a low simmer, and cook until liquid is reduce by half (about 2 hours).

Strain the stock into a bowl to remove solids. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Refrigerate overnight, and then remove the solid fat that rises to the top.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

You can throw this away, or (better) save to to fry with as you would butter. Jewish cooking calls this fat “schmaltz” and it makes the best scrambled eggs ever!

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Stock will keep 2-3 days in the fridge, or several months in the freezer. I like to freeze it in ice-cube trays, so it’s ready in pre-portioned cubes when I need it.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Want to turn this lovely, simple chicken stock into the perfect chicken gravy? Start with a Roux! Here’s how…



Home Chef Cookbooks

Mastering the White Sauces

Sauce Bechamel

Sauce Bechamel is a milk based French Mother Sauce, which means it’s the base for a whole family of secondary sauces like Mornay, Cheddar Cheese Sauce, or even a simple cream sauce (see below).

The 5 French Mother Sauces:

  • Béchamel (light roux, milk, herbs and spices)
  • Velouté (light roux with stock)
  • Espagnole (dark roux, beef stock, mirepoix, tomato paste)
  • Sauce Tomat (dark roux, pork stock, tomatoes, mirepoix)
  • Hollandaise (no roux, egg yolks, melted butter)

Standard Bechamel (1 quart)

  • 4oz white roux
  • 1qt whole milk
  • 1/4 white onion, skin peeled off
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • Salt, White Pepper and Nutmeg To Taste

The Roux: Combine flour and butter in a small pan, and cook over moderate heat, to make a white roux. In a separate pot, heat up milk to a simmer.

Add roux to the milk, making sure that both the milk and the roux are not too hot.

Whisk the roux and milk together and bring to a simmer. Add bay leaf, clove, and white onion. Simmer for about 30 minutes, and thin with milk if necessary.

Season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste. The nutmeg should not be recognizable, but is just to add depth of flavor.

Finish by straining through cheesecloth.

Secondary Sauces:

Almost any milk or cream based sauce that you will make, will start with a classic Bechamel. Here are three of my favorite secondary sauces that are based on the recipe above.

Each of these are based on 1qt of Bechamel.

1200px-Making_White_sauce_5Standard Cream Sauce
8oz of heavy cream, heated
Season with salt, white pepper and a dash of lemon juice to taste
Favorite herbs and spices to taste
Strain through a cheesecloth for a smooth, creamy finish

Mornay Sauce
Stir in 4oz of Gruyere and 2 oz of Parmesan cheese, both grated
Turn off heat and whisk in 2 oz of unsalted butter
Adjust consistency with warm milk as necessary

Cheddar cheese sauceCheddar Cheese Sauce
8oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

Stir all ingredients into warm bechamel until cheddar cheese is melted

Mustard Sauce
Stir in 4oz good dijon mustard
Remove from heat and whisk in 4 oz of unsalted butter
Strain through cheesecloth
(You can spice this up by using hot Chinese mustard!)

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That’s what this book is about…because something amazing has begun to happen in the last two decades, something that has never before happened in the history of cooking…instead of growing wider, the gap between the home cook and the professional chef has actually begun to narrow, and continues to narrow exponentially with each passing year.

The time when these specialized skills were limited to those who could afford the cost and time required for culinary school are quickly passing into history.

The time when the sole requirement to elevate your cooking skills to this level…passion…is emerging.

It’s an amazing time to become a Home Chef…and if you have that passion, I’ll show you how.


Chef Perry P. Perkins