We are a casserole lovin’ country, aren’t we? I don’t make casseroles often, but every once in a while, I really just want something warm and comforting for dinner, even in the summer. If I’m being completely honest, one of the main reasons I don’t make a lot of casseroles is because canned condensed “Cream of ___” soups give me the heebie jeebies, and it seems like they always pop up in a casserole recipe. I know, that’s not normal, but it’s the truth. There’s something about dumping out a cold can of gelatinous, slimy goo, with little chunks of “meat” in it that just creeps me out.
I ran across a Cream of Anything soup substitute recipe on Pinterest a while ago and when I saw it, I cheered! After reading the comments on the post, I learned that I’m not alone in my dislike of creepy soups. I decided to give it a try, and then make up a casserole using the substitute. So, today you get two recipes for the price of one!
The soup substitute is really easy to throw together. In fact, you probably have most of the ingredients on hand already. The only thing I had to buy for it was a packet of Instant Nonfat Dry Milk. Thankfully, they make them in convenient 1 cup packets now, so I didn’t have to grab a whole box.
Into my mixing bowl went the dry milk, some cornstarch, chicken bouillon granules, dried minced onion, dried basil, thyme, and black pepper.
Stir that up, and that’s it! That’s the base for your Cream of Anything soup. I put the mix into a storage container, taped the recipe to the top, and I was good to go!
Now, to make the equivalent of one can of condensed soup, all you need to do is mix together 1/3 cup of the powder with 1 1/4 cups of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. The mixture only needs to cook for a couple of minutes, and before you know it, you have a thickened soup substitute. (Keep in mind, this is the substitute for the condensed stuff, not a bowl of soup. If you want to make edible soup from that mix, add an extra cup of milk or water to the pan and mix that in as it heats.)
For my casserole, I needed Cream of Broccoli Soup, so I threw in a couple of broccoli florets that I’d diced up. If you want Cream of Chicken, add a little bit of cooked chicken. Cream of Celery, add some finely diced celery. You get the idea, right?
While I’d been busy getting my soup together, I cooked up some quinoa for the casserole on the stove with some chicken broth. I find that cooking it in chicken broth, as opposed to water, leaves it with a richer flavor. You could use rice in this dish, but if you remember, I have a giant bag of quinoa on my hands. Plus, quinoa is so much better for you than plain white rice, and my kids love it.
When it was time to put the casserole together, I got out a large bowl and mixed together my soup, some plain Greek yogurt, milk, reduced fat cheese, a dash of sugar and some pepper.
When that was mixed well, I folded in my cooked quinoa, two diced, cooked chicken breasts that I’d prepared earlier, and some cooked broccoli florets. I poured that mixture into my prepared baking dish and topped it with a little more of the shredded cheese and some grated Parmesan.
Then, I popped the casserole into the oven,where it baked up for about 35 minutes. When I took it out of the oven, it was bubbly and golden.
We sat down to a delicious, comforting dinner that night that the entire family enjoyed! The casserole is back in the house, people!! It was really good, and I was confident in every ingredient I used. I wasn’t guessing at what “might” be in the soup, because I made it, and the casserole made for a delicious and healthy meal for my family. My husband rolled his eyes at me when I told him about the soup substitute, but he’s not the one who’s been opening up creepy cans of goo now, is he?
- For the soup mix:
- 1 cup Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup bouillon granules (I used chicken)
- 4 Tbsp. dried minced onions
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. pepper
- For the casserole:
- ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 10 oz. can of Cream of Broccoli Soup OR 1 batch of soup substitute
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 1½ cups reduced fat shredded cheddar-jack cheese mix, plus ½ cup for topping
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 2 cups broccoli florets, cooked
- 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
- Parmesan Cheese, for topping
- To make the soup mix: Mix together all ingredients and store in an airtight container at room temperature. To make the equivalent of one can of condensed soup, combine ⅓ cup of the powdered mix with 1¼ cups water in a small saucepan. Cook, over medium heat, until thick. Add whatever accent ingredient you desire...cooked chicken, broccoli, celery, etc.
- To make the casserole: Combine the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, until quinoa is light and fluffy and liquid has been absorbed. Set aside to cool for a bit.
- Preheat the oven to 350*. Coat a casserole dish with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the soup, yogurt, milk, 1½ cups shredded cheese, sugar, and pepper. Stir in the cooked quinoa, broccoli, and chicken.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with the reserved shredded cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving