I quit using cream of mushroom, broccoli, and chicken soup long ago. Read the label – it sure doesn’t sound appetizing. And, if you are on a limited diet like my husband is, dairy products, flour, and cornstarch are all ingredients in those condensed soups that he must avoid.
So how do you make a creamy casserole without condensed soups? It’s easier than you think.
I start with about a half cup of diced or minced yellow onion and cook this in a couple teaspoons of olive oil until they start to brown, and then add a little bit of mince garlic and some salt. Then I reduce it with a splash of either Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, cooking sherry, or white wine (all depending on the flavor I’m going for). It will reduce down quickly. Then I add in a cup of either chicken, beef, or vegetable broth – again, all depending on the flavor I’m going for or dish I’m making. Once it is bubbling, I whisk in a gluten free slurry.
So what the heck is a slurry? You can thicken sauces and gravies using either a roux, or a slurry. A roux is basically flour cooked into butter to form a paste, and then whisked into the sauce. A slurry is made from flour and liquid mixed well to form a thickened liquid, and then whisked into the sauce. I’ve found when using gluten free flours, that slurries tend to work better than roux, as gluten free roux can yield a grainy lumpy sauce.
To make the slurry, I use a plastic gravy shaker. My favorite is the Tupperware gravy shaker, pictured below. I use about 2 tablespoons of a gluten free flour blend, like Bob’s Red Mill. You’ll want to use one that has a combination of rice, potato, and tapioca flours and starches to produce a good consistency. If you use straight tapioca starch, you’ll end up with a weird, gelatinous consistency that is pretty gross and if you use straight rice flour, you’ll get a grainy consistency. I add about 1/4-1/3 cup of almond milk and shake it vigorously until blended into a thick liquid. Quickly whisk this into the bubbling broth and onion combination. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as it begins to thicken so it doesn’t burn. The next step is the key to a creamy texture and flavor: quickly fold in about a 1/4 to 1/3 cup of unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, which has a similar taste and consistency to sour cream. Once mixed, you’ll see that this mixture appears similar to the canned stuff you are used to using in casseroles. The final step is to season it to taste – add salt, pepper, and herbs like thyme and sage to taste. Use this mixture in place of cream of mushroom soup in your favorite recipes. And don’t forget, you can modify this base as needed, by adding things like minced mushrooms and other spices to enhance your recipe.