I think that Campbell’s Soup is one of the mainstays of retro dining. Not only did they widely advertise the awesomeness of canned soup, touting convenience, nutrition and affordability, but they increasingly came out with recipes that called for soup. We’ve visited these before — Shrimp Lamaze, Meatza Pizza, and even Tomato Soup Cake. In general, it only manages to rise to the level of “meh” — despite plenty of sodium, canned soup just doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor.
I clearly haven’t learned my lesson, though, because now I’m making a casserole…
Hearty Tuna Biscuit Pie
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 can (6-1/2 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked
1 package (10 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables, cooked and drained
6 refrigerated biscuits, cut in half
1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
In 8-inch square baking dish, blend soup, milk, and juice until smooth; stir in tuna, vegetables. Bake at 450°F. for 10 minutes. Stir mixture; top with border of biscuits. Brush biscuits with butter; sprinkle with cheese. Bake 8 minutes more or until biscuits are browned.
I’ve been trying to improve the overall quality of food in our kitchen, cooking more from scratch and being more mindful of ingredients (both their source, and their quality). More and more, this has ended up being a huge pain in the butt when I am working on a retro recipe. It’s hard to cut down on sodium and processed foods when you’re pondering which Spam recipe is going to be part of an upcoming meal. Cream of Something Soup is no exception, with an array of ingredients that I’d generally prefer to avoid.
Unlike a lot of other foods, I had no idea how to substitute for Cream of Something soup. Despite being gloppy, grey, and smelling sort of like dog food, it nevertheless has a critical consistency that can bring a dish together. Minute Rice swaps for regular rice, Minute Tapioca for tapioca flour — but canned soup baffled me.
Then I stumbled across this promising alternative. I made it, liked it (a lot), and that’s why you see a measuring cup of soup rather than a can!
Also, made-from-scratch biscuits. Daughter insisted these be cut into heart shapes rather than “boring” circles…
Anyway, back to the retro cooking!
The vegetables (and even tuna) are bright, colorful, and almost cheery.
That is, until they get mixed into the gloppy, grey soup stuff. Apparently, cream of mushroom soup is critical not just for texture, but also to ensure the casserole looks like somebody got sick in the baking dish.
After ten minutes of baking … well, it looked exactly the same. And the consistency was exactly the same, except it was warmer.
The biscuits, when placed on top, promptly sank into the glop. Hmm.
We put butter and cheese on top anyway, and stuffed it back in the oven.
After eight minutes, it was clearly not done. (Plus, the biscuits had sunk even further.) We left it in for another eight minutes.
And then left it in for another four minutes.
Finally, we gave up and took it out — not out of fears that anything would overcook, but because we were hungry and wanted to know whether this would be edible or Buzz would be buying everyone hamburgers.
The preschooler took one look at his bowl and burst into tears.
Despite appearances, this wasn’t nearly as bad as he (or any of us) expected. Nobody thought this was a really delicious meal, but it tasted pretty good for a gloopy, tuna-laden casserole. The biscuits didn’t rise like biscuits normally do, since they were buried in soup goop, and had the consistency of dumplings (although they still tasted like biscuits, which was good).
Overall, I doubt I’d make it again, but the experiment of homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup was fairly successful. It will be useful to have for other casserole things that I already know taste better — I made a pretty good sausage and rice casserole with it earlier in the week that everybody thoroughly enjoyed. What’s probably at fault in this case is the tuna fish, and general lack of seasoning!
Original scan of the ad-recipe comes from the Flickr stream of aimeebakes