Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup Clone

Homemade Low Sodium Cream of Mushroom Soup
Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup is a product that a lot of people miss when eating low sodium. It’s understandable. The soup is used in so many recipes, especially casseroles. It also makes a quick and easy gravy for chicken and pork. So, what’s the problem? Unfortunately, it’s packed with sodium. There are four (4) versions of the soup available for purchase. Here’s the breakdown:

Each can holds 10½ ounces and about 2½ servings.

Regular Condensed: 870 mg sodium/.5 cup (contains MSG) = 2,175 mg sodium/can
25% Less Sodium: 650 mg sodium/.5 cup (contains MSG) = 1,625 mg sodium/can
Healthy Request: 410 mg sodium/.5 cup (contains potassium chloride) = 1,025 sodium/can
Ready to Serve Low Sodium: 45 mg sodium/can (watery and bland ‒ needs a lot of doctoring)

Ingredients: Water, Mushrooms, Vegetable Oil, Modified Food Starch, Wheat Flour, Contains Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Cream (Milk), Dehydrated Whey, Soy Protein Concentrate, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Flavoring, Dehydrated Garlic.

Recently a pal from the “Shakin’ the Salt” Facebook Group linked to the Salad-in-a-Jar recipe for homemade COM soup. I wanted to give it a try.  But before I did, I studied other copycat recipes and looked more closely at the ingredient list on the Campbell's label. Because milk/cream was down near the end of the ingredient list, I decided to use only 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 NSA veggie broth instead of all milk. To boost the umami flavor contributed by ingredients I wasn’t going to use, I added a teaspoon of low sodium soy sauce.  

I also used Ultra Gel as a thickener instead of cornstarch. It's one of my favorite products ‒ a GF modified starch that thickens both cold and hot liquids directly (no slurry or roux needed) and instantly. Plus it doesn't break down with reheating, refrigeration, or freezing.

For super duper convenience, I used Giorgio NSA canned mushrooms from Healthy Heart Market. Finally, I used my hand-held blender stick.
Hand-Held Blender Stick
It all came together easily and quickly, and that was my goal. I figured the best thing about cream of mushroom soup was its convenience. It’s thick, creamy, and, in most cases, avoids the need to make a from-scratch bechamel. (Yes, I know that sauteing fresh mushrooms in butter would boost flavor, but I was hoping to match the convenience and speed of the canned product.)

Honestly, I was quite pleased with the end result. (I used it last night in “creamed” peas.) I really like that it can be made with items I usually keep in my pantry. That makes it especially quick and easy.

The sodium content for the entire recipe came in under 300 mg. I know that the “Ready-to-Serve” COM soup is lower, but it’s so thin, watery, and tasteless, that it requires a lot of doctoring. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not worth fiddling with. This clone, however, is actually easier to prepare and the end result is thick, creamy, mushroomy in flavor, and super low in sodium. Here's my modified recipe:

Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup Clone

¼ - ½ tsp onion powder
⅛ tsp garlic powder
Pinch sugar
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce (I use Chinatown)
2 tbsp cornstarch (I used Ultra Gel)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Couple grinds white pepper
½ cup NSA broth (vegetable, chicken, beef)
½ cup evaporated milk (regular or 2%)
1 small can NSA mushrooms, drained (or 3/4 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced)

Put all ingredients except the mushrooms in a blender/food processor and pulse until smooth. Add mushrooms and pulse until mushrooms are coarsely chopped.

Pour into a 2 qt microwaveable bowl. Cook on HIGH for 3 minutes, whisking well after 2 minutes and again at the end of cooking time. If not thick enough, add 30 seconds and whisk again. (Because I used Ultra Gel, it thickened almost immediately. So I only cooked it for 1½ -2 minutes.)

Sodium Content: Amounts are approximate, numbers dependent on specific products used.
Evaporated Milk: 140 mg sodium
Low Sodium Vegetable Broth: 68 mg sodium
Low Sodium Soy Sauce: 48 mg sodium
NSA Mushrooms: 40 mg sodium
TOTAL: 296 mg sodium/recipe

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