Monday, November 02, 2009

Shopping in the Pantry Challenge #1

Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

I wanted to make chicken and rice for the kids. Typically, besides the obvious, recipes call for some combination of the condensed Campbell's "Soup is good food" variety - cream of chicken, mushroom, or celery. I've tried the organic remakes of these kitchen staples with fairly unimpressive results. Seems there's nothing like the Campbell's for consistency and flavor. But I've stopped using Campbell's because at least two of those soups contain MSG. Such a betrayal. And probably, as it turns out, one of the ingredients, along with marinating in tin, that's responsible for the soup's unique flavor.

For fun, I decided to look online to see if I could find an alternate recipe. And I did. Here. This recipe calls for using onion and garlic powder, along with dried parsley and poultry seasoning. I used actual vegetables. As you can see:

I sautéed some garlic and onion. I also added a bit of salt and
some thyme because I didn't have poultry seasoning. Then I added a little chicken broth.

Then half a cup of milk.

Now here is where it gets tricky. The recipe calls for mixing 3/4 cup of flour with the remaining cup of milk. When you do that you get something resembling wall paper paste or paper-mâché and you might want to back out at this step. Remember you're making condensed soup, right? So go ahead and add that mixture to the onion, garlic milk/broth in the pan and whisk it like mad. It will soon have the same consistency as its canned counterpart. I tasted it at this point and it was really close. I think it could have used a bit more salt, garlic, onion, and thyme as well as some celery. I didn't use parsley either because I didn't have any dried or fresh, but that would have been good too.

Next. This is where the Shopping in the Pantry Challenge comes in. I added a can of organic cream of mushroom soup that's been sitting on the shelf for at least a year. I've used this in a casserole before and it's a bit watery and under-flavored which is what prompted me to want to make a decent homemade alternative. I mixed in this soup and then I pureed it for about five minutes because I wanted to eliminate any trace of vegetable or herb matter that might make the kids freak out and reject the real object of the experiment: the chicken and rice casserole.

Once this was made, it took like fifteen minutes, I made the chicken and rice from this recipe which originally came from cook's recipes, but I can't find the exact link anymore. Seems it's disappeared into some wormhole. Good luck trying to find it. Luckily I emailed it to myself.

Cook 1/4 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon butter until
tender. In 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, mix onion, 1 3/4 cup
chicken broth, 1/2 cup chicken, 1 cup shredded cheese and
1/2 cup uncooked rice. Cover. Bake at 375 degrees for 1
hour. Serves 4.

I didn't put the onion in it. Just the chicken, rice, cheese and some chicken broth (not enough as it turned out) and baked it for an hour. The kids initially balked at eating it, but relented and even admitted to liking it. The great thing is that it leaves them open to trying other mixtures of rice and chicken like curry and arroz con pollo. Here's to expanding their palates one meal at a time.

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