Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup was on sale. Immediately, filed-away memories come rushing back with the familiar red and white can. When I was six years old, I always asked my grandmother to make this soup for me. I am not quite sure if she was exasperated at the lack of nutrients, or secretly relieved that I wanted something so easy to make. Either way she always humored me, and eventually figured out how to make it healthier. By the time I was 12, she would microwave cauliflower florets mixed with the canned cream of mushroom soup. I could have eaten a whole head of cauliflower in one sitting with that dish. But then again, once I had eaten half of her blueberry cheesecake (another favorite) while watching after school cartoons so maybe that is not saying much.
My grandmother was on to something. Cauliflower’s mild flavor and pale color meld seamlessly with cream and milk. The best creamed soup I have ever eaten was a cream of cauliflower soup drizzled with truffle oil at Guy Savoy’s Les Bouquinistes along the river Seine. It was so rich and creamy that I would have licked the bowl if I had no shame. Cream of mushroom soup was my grandmother’s shortcut to a smooth béchamel sauce. I decided to follow in her footsteps, and placed a can in my basket.
I combined my grandmother’s two-ingredient recipe with that of the classic Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole. I then tinkered with it some more thinking of the nuttiness of roasted cauliflower. A casserole is not roasted, but bread crumbs and brown butter would add a hint of nuttiness to the dish. Since cauliflower has such a mild flavor, I also added fresh parsley to add brightness and interest.
This simple casserole is a great dish to bring to a potluck. Just double the recipe and use your deep lasagna pan. Since I was staying in, it was the perfect opportunity to try the Le Creuset baking dish that Cooking.com sent me to try. The smaller size is just right to feed four as a side dish or two as a main course. As a bonus, it came with a “mini me” that I used for an apple crisp—a dish that slips extra fruit in to the meal.
We are often frustrated by the junk that kids eat. However, instead of chasing them around the house with a plate of boiled brussel sprouts and cottage cheese (and creating life-long aversions to those foods, which is a shame because well prepared brussel sprouts are so tasty) take a page from my grandmother. Combine healthy ingredients in with the foods that your kids enjoy, and it just may create a life-long love instead.
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
pinch ground black pepper
1 small head cauliflower florets
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped and divided
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the breadcrumbs and butter. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the soup, milk, soy sauce and black pepper until smooth. Stir in the cauliflower and 1/4 cup parsley. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring the cauliflower half-way through.
Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture and the remaining parsley. Bake for 5 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cauliflower is firm, but easily pierced with a fork.
Adapted from Josefa Tan and Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole