Sometimes, even when you’re a food writer, supper time can resemble “Chopped.”
I’ve got mushrooms, chicken, onions, ice cream and soup. Go.
As long as that soup is condensed and begins with “cream of,” you’re probably OK. In fact, amongst my group of busy, cooking moms, we’ve shortened it to just that. Cream of.
Cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of celery. It doesn’t matter so much; the taste profiles of each are pretty similar. And each of them makes a darn fine cheater gravy with the addition of some herbs and spices.
Look for the fat-free or low-fat varieties if you’re health-conscious and try to lay off the salt in the rest of your recipe. Canned soups as a whole are usually salty enough.
You can also punch up the flavor by using stock, either chicken or beef, instead of water to cut the soup. Again, you can choose low-fat, low-sodium options.
I mainly use cream of as a braising liquid, but I’ve also had success in using it as a thickener or binder in other savory recipes, like cornbread or rice dressing.
For this recipe, the chicken and mushrooms braise in the soup and stock, giving the poultry a rich flavor without all the fat and making an excellent gravy for serving over rice, egg noodles or potatoes, which can be cooked along with the chicken.
That will put a tasty, traditional dinner on the table in around 45 minutes.
Don’t tell anyone it’s low-fat and no one will ever know. You might also want to fudge on the effort, too. I would.
Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at bcolvin@the advocate.com.