This Soup Is Super But Not As A Soup

by Kevin Burton

    I would never eat Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup as a soup, but as a cooking ingredient it sure does its job.

   I’ve been cooking with golden mushroom for years. Not sure when I started or where I first heard about it.  But I’ve never even thought about preparing it like chicken soup or vegetable beef soup and just eating it.  

   There are cooking instructions on the can that suggest some people do though.

   My wife Jeannette says she wouldn’t consider it as a soup either. The Campbell’s company itself, on its website, seems to be marketing it as just a part of recipe.

   If you are patient enough to click through to the 13th screen of products this is what you read, “Campbell’s Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup is a flavorful combination of beef stock, tender mushrooms and savory tomato puree. Versatile and easy to use, keep it stocked in pantry to use as an ingredient for your next-best recipes.”

   I mentioned early this month that I was bored with my diet and feeling the need for culinary creativity (“Storm Warning, Careful In The Kitchen, Sept. 3).

   Jeannette and I had bought some frozen stir-fry vegetables, mushrooms and bell peppers. We were looking to create a signature rice-based dish.

   I got the idea from a dish called Special Rice, made by our favorite Mexican restaurant.  I think the dish is good but not great and needed the cheese sauce base, replaced by something else 

   I wasn’t surprised when the golden mushroom soup provided the big payoff for our cooking adventures.

   We made three dishes. Jeannette made a stir-fry dish on the stovetop.  I baked two similar dishes in the oven.

   The first conclusion from her stir-fry and my first baked dish was we should lose the brown rice.  We found it too heavy for what we were attempting. 

   I baked a small pan of brown rice, chicken mushrooms and bell peppers with the golden mushroom soup.  Jeannette said the soup gave the dish needed flavor but the dish would be better with white rice. 

  For my second dish I did use white rice but substituted Campbell’s French onion soup for the golden mushroom.  That came out about as I expected. Jeannette liked it a lot. I could eat it but there was too much onion flavor for me.  

   Jeannette added neither onion nor mushroom soup to her stir fry. She combined brown rice, chicken bell peppers, broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms. She said her creation was “healthy, but lacked something.” 

   When I make roast in the big crock pot I use two cans of golden mushroom soup and one can of water.  I noticed recently that the flavor from the soup hasn’t permeated the food the way it used to.  My first thought was they had changed the formula to cut costs. But it could easily be my own taste buds changing, the quality of the beef I am getting, etc.

   I went looking to see what other bloggers are creating with Campbell’s golden mushroom and found a meal that looks amazing, much better than our first efforts.  It’s on the My BBQ Journey blog by Chad Harris Photography.

   Here is some of the text accompanying the photos:

   “After braising the beef stew meat to start, Gay slow cooked it 3 hours in the Crock Pot with America’s Finest Steak Seasoning, Salt and Pepper with a can of Campbell’s French Onion Soup. Added a can of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup at the three hour mark.”

   I would have never thought to use both French onion and golden mushroom in the same meal.  Now that trick is in my arsenal. And I looked up the definition of the verb “braise.”

   “This stew meat would have been perfect in a Gordita or in a corn or flour tortilla,” Harris wrote. But instead, the chef added spiral pasta to create the Roasted Beef Pasta dish. 

   Harris said the result was “beyond delicious.” It sure looks good.

   In one ambitious moment on a recent supermarket trip we grabbed Grill Mates steak marinates Smoky Applewood, Memphis Pit BBQ, Brazilian Steakhouse, Mesquite, Chipotle Pepper and Montreal Steak.

   Not sure when we will get around to trying all that, but I’m eager to see what we come up with.    Whether creating with our original rice idea, or with pasta or whatever, we probably won’t stray far from the golden mushroom soup. 

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