Lots of people and recipes use canned cream soups as an easy ingredient to many home-cooked dishes. The problem with those canned soups is that there are many things in there you might not want. But you can make your own cream soup base which opens a whole world of possibilities, a canvas on which you can paint your taste. Need condensed? Just make it thicker by using half the milk.
In The Bachelor’s Kitchen, we used this recipe to use up some quickly deteriorating mushrooms. What can’t you do with Cream of Mushroom soup? Not only is this healthier, but you can make almost any type of cream soup from this simple base.
For our soup, we started with frying some bacon. What we needed most was the grease. But this also adds flavor to the soup along with the rashers themselves. The cooked rashers go onto a paper towel to drain. We don’t cook these to a crispy state, otherwise they would disintegrate in the soup. But you can do it how you like.
Into the bacon grease, we added our chopped mushrooms and sautéed until slightly brown and flavorful. While this is cooking, crush two chicken bouillon cubes or two teaspoons of granulated bouillon.
Now, for the soup base, melt a whole stick of butter or 1/2 cup of olive oil in a skillet. While stirring constantly, gradually sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of flour and make a paste. Doing it slowly instead of just dumping the flour in gives you a smoother, lumpless roux. Stir in 2 cups of milk and the bouillon, turning the heat down to low. Keep stirring and cook until the mixture thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Go easy on the salt because the bacon coming later has salt in it. So does the bouillon. You might not even need salt. But a good amount of pepper will help the flavor a lot.
Depending on the thickness wanted, add more milk as you add your other ingredients. In this case, we added some milk with the mushrooms. We chopped the bacon and put that in, too.
Whatever you add, except cheese or fresh herbs, should be cooked first. Remember that canned products, like tomatoes, are already cooked in the can. That means you can add bacon, chunks or shreds of cheese, leeks, pieces of baked potato, cooked asparagus or steamed broccoli. Your end product will go well by itself or make a great accompaniment to a sandwich or salad.