Cream of ____ soup is a really simple thing to eliminate. Yes, it is fast, but I promise you have the replacement ingredients in your kitchen right now. It really only takes three. Ready? Butter, flour, and milk. That's it! Of course you can get fancy... I usually add in some chicken stock (or broth, or even from bouillon cubes...) and garlic or herbs, but it depends on what you are making with it. This process starts with making a roux.
- Chicken Stock
- Melt butter in a saucepan.
- Add flour, stir until smooth paste forms.
- Add milk, stir until it starts to thicken.
- Add stock, stir until it starts to thicken.
- Alternate adding milk and stock to get the flavor you're looking for. Season at the end.
Make sure you start with enough of the roux (flour + butter) in the beginning. Adding flour later to thicken it tends to make the sauce lumpy. For a pot pie you'll need about half a stick of butter (4 tablespoons) and 1/4 cup flour. Pasta for two you can go with about half that. Remember you can mix in seasonings to match the meal. Here are some options to consider:
- salt and pepper
- garlic (minced, powder, or salt)
- dried oregano
- dried basil
- shredded cheese (parmesan for white pasta sauce, cheddar/swiss/gouda/etc for mac and cheese)
So now that you have the basic... see how I apply it in my remake of this recipe card from who knows what grocery store picked up in 2006 if the printing date is to be trusted.
Seafood Pot Pie
adapted by joyfulfoodie
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2 in slices
1 cup peas
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk (more or less as needed)
1 cup stock (seafood stock ideal, but chicken or vegetable works fine too) (more or less as needed)
3/4 teaspoon dried dill
2 cups cooked seafood, such as soft-shell crab, shrimp, salmon, and/or halibut.
1 cup shredded swiss cheese (4oz)
1/2 (15oz) package refrigerated pie crust (1 crust) OR 1 sheet of puff pastry (from package of two), thawed while you work on other steps.
1) Preheat oven to 400°F.
2) Prepare vegetables.
3) Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir to form a paste. When smooth, add approximately 1/4 cup milk and stir until smooth and starting to thicken. Then add approximately 1/4 cup chicken stock and stir until smooth and starting to thicken. Alternate milk and stock until it is a smooth sauce, but not too liquidy. If it seems like you went a little too far, let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken up. As a last resort, mix in a little more flour. (This won't be too terrible a fix in a pot pie, it would be more noticeable over pasta. :))
4) Add dill, vegetables, and seafood. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, to heat seafood and vegetables through. *** Stir in cheese to melt, remove saucepan from heat.
5) Pour mixture into a casserole dish. Unfold pie crust OR puff pastry and lay it over the seafood mixture. For puff pastry I usually have to get a little creative with the arranging if its in my bigger rectangle casserole dish. Trim any edges that hang over so they are inside the dish again. If using pie crust, cut slits to vent.
6) Bake. Piecrust = 30 minutes, Puff pastry = 40-50 minutes. You want the crust (either kind) to be golden brown.
***Alternate option at step 4: In a second pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Saute mushrooms 3-5 minutes. Add carrots and broccoli, cook 2 minutes longer. Then add all with peas and seafood to the sauce. This will make the vegetables a little more tender and add a little depth of flavor. If you're in a hurry, its fine to skip this step, but I rarely do. :)
In my mind, this combines some of the best things ever. 1) Easy = yay. 2) Pot pie = comfort food = double yay. 3) Seafood = greater than chicken = triple yay.
Your turn! What's the big recipe swap you're into these days? Anyone with me on the cream of _bleh_ rant?