So Thanksgiving was over almost three weeks ago – but that doesn't mean that the time for green bean casserole has passed. Green bean casserole was invented to sell Campbell's soup, cream of mushroom specifically, but since then it has become one of the most popular holiday side dishes of the 20th century, and is still holding strong in the 21st. An academic paper was written arguing that green bean casserole is in fact the quintessential dish of the midwest. So in short this post is not too late for a Christmas encore.
The super irony of green bean casserole being the heart of midwestern hoidays is that the original recipe was invented by a home economist in New Jersey (not even close to the midwest). Her name is Dorcas Reilly – she is still alive. Her goal for Campbell's was to create a dish for the average housewife with a few simple ingredients – she definitely succeeded, even if you make it completely from scratch.
Campbell's sells over 30% of all of its cream of mushroom soup around Thanksgiving every year. Roughly a million people visit their website or request the recipe during the month of November. Interestingly enough this soup concentrate can be made in less than 20 minutes so there is no need to buy it unless you just love highly processed foods and all of the salt and unpronounceable ingredients they can offer your body.
You can still find fresh green beans in November, technically in December they are no longer the fresh fruit of the harvest, but what is – so use canned or fresh at your discretion as far as carbon footprint etc allows. You can also make the breaded fried onions from scratch, if you so desire, but for me they are the one ingredient I have to let fall from a can to allow the little girl who used to steal them from grandmother's pantry to frolic.
If you are not using green beans from a can, simply steam them for just 3 to 5 minutes (you are going to bake them again with a bunch of cream of mushroom soup so there is no reason to turn them into mush).
Put the steamed green beans in the baking dish, add your can or two cups of homemade cream of mushroom soup concentrate, follow it with the other ingredients of the recipe, minus the fried onions. Stir everything with a wooden spoon or massage together with your hands if you like a really viscous experience.
Then top with the crowning achievement of canned fried onions. Make sure a couple get into your mouth during the process so you can enjoy their salty greasy weird goodness that can only come from a can. Bake the whole thing for about 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degress and bam! You have a holiday sidedish that everyone will like – I promise. Here is my version of the recipe that is mostly gluten and dairy free.
Mostly Gluten and Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole from Scratch
4 cups fresh green beans, chopped in half and steamed
2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups homemade cream of mushroom soup concentrate (see recipe on this blog, this is the ingredient that can include cow butter)
1/2 cup Pure Almond Milk (this is a brand name, but it is the best alternative milk out there to replicate the creamy of cow milk and contains no extra nasty ingredients)
1 tbsp gluten free tamari
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 to 2 cups canned fried onions (Trader Joe's organic, or French's brand OK) (this is the ingredient with gluten)
Make the homemade cream of mushroom soup recipe.
Snip the ends and cut the fresh green beans, then steam them.
Mix soup, green beans, mushrooms and all other ingredients except the fried onions together in a casserole dish.
Sprinkle the fried onions over the top of the green beans and bake everything at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.