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Thanksgiving guest really wants green bean/mushroom soup casserole

I'm hosting one Thanksgiving diner who really, really wants the "traditional" green bean casserole made with mushroom soup and Durkee onions on top. However, she's open to variations on the basic theme.

I have to admit I've almost never even tasted the stuff. I find canned cream of mushroom soup totally inedible.

I guess I could make one of those fresh variations on the usual glop, but I don't really relish the idea of drowning green beans in bechamel. Anyone have another idea that uses the basic flavor profile of beans, mushrooms and onions?

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  1. why not make duxelles and add a bit of cream? use that to layer as a sauce over dry-fried green beans and you can garnish it all with home-made fried onion strings.

    i'll confess never having eaten the actual glop dish, but this incorporates all the elements and will actually taste good.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Why didn't my own searching turn those up? Thanks! I knew I'd seen some in the past, but was coming up empty.

        fourunder, I could just make it, but my guest is actually an adventurous eater. She actually kind of challenged me to come up with a twist on it!

        1. re: dmd_kc

          Then in that case, make it with some exotic sliced mushrooms, flash fried frizzled shallots and a Parmigiano Reggiano laced cream sauce.

      2. As someone who associates green bean casserole with Thanksgiving comfort food, and who has made CH-approved variations, I can tell you that if your guest is craving green bean casserole, it's the one with condensed soup and fried onions on top. The other versions, while tasty, are not the same. It's like making macaroni and cheese from scratch when you're craving the neon orange version. Yes, it tastes better, but it's not what you want.

        When I make green bean casserole, though, I use fresh green beans instead of the canned and use Trader Joe's onion strings instead of the other ones. But I keep the condensed soup.

        2 Replies
        1. re: leanneabe

          I agree. If someone really wants the real thing, why not concentrate your energies on something else?

          1. re: leanneabe

            Yes, I agree -- make it with fresh green beans and the campbell's soup or a healthier version of the same. Last year at Thanksgiving I saw organic cream of mushroom soup and organic canned fried onions together at our coop. For this very purpose. I imagine the TJ onion strings are like the ones I saw at the coop.

          2. Here's the "authentic" version if you want to take the plunge:

            http://www.campbellkitchen.com/Recipe...

            6 Replies
            1. re: Full tummy

              I had never heard of that dish before visiting this site. Is it indigenous to a particular US region?

              Personally, I'd suggest to make a small ovenproof dish of the stuff for the guest, as it is neither difficult nor expensive, so you won't feel bad if you throw it out afterwards.

              I confess I don't get people craving foods I'd associate with poverty with holiday celebrations, but that is just me...

              1. re: lagatta

                Hahahaha, I have no idea. I've never had it myself, but it is legendary!!! Many, including Cooks Illustrated, have tried to come up with recipes based on it that don't use the Campbell's soup and so fit in better with some of our ideas about homemade, healthy, quality, etc. This recipe purports to be the CI version:

                http://www.greenbeansnmore.com/recipe...

                1. re: Full tummy

                  this is the recipe i use and everyone loves it. it's a nice nod to the old - but tastes 10 times better. :)

                2. re: lagatta

                  I don't think it's indigenous to any area in the US, I think it's everywhere. It was made 'famous' by the Campbell's Soup company thru advertising.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    it's not a poverty thing, but came about when food companies were touting the convenience factor of canned and instant foods to housewives in the 50s and 60s. i confess my family never made it and i was an adult before i saw it on a table.

                    1. re: lagatta

                      It's a very 1950s-60s recipe that a lot of use equate with our childhoods. I was never a fan, but my aunt used to make it and I used to pick the fried onions off and eat those.

                  2. I have to admit, green bean casserole is a staple at my Thanksgiving table. I'm usually the only one who eats it (everyone else takes a small teaspoon's worth just to make me happy). I would never eat it at any other time of year, but it's one of those Thanksgiving things that makes me happy.

                    1. At the risk of being unhoundly, aren't there just some dishes that you crave - even only once a year - despite the fact that they have no redeeming culinary qualities whatsoever? I personally think it's almost worse to take decent fresh green beans and turn them into something resembling that ghastly casserole than to make the iconic mushroom soup version. There's something charmingly honest about that dish - it's a throwback to a different era of cooking and some of us may enjoy that reminder once in a while. I say go ahead and make that dish - the original version with all those canned ingredients - if only to make your guest happy. Or maybe she'll discover she doesn't love it anymore but of course she'll never tell you that. Whatever. You'll be the most gracious host - and send her home with the leftovers. A win-win situation, in my opinion.

                      1. I confess to a love for the canned mushroom soup version of this dish. I've tried to make chowish versions, but they are not as good.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pikawicca

                          I like it too.So much that I serve it at least once a month.Not because I am too poor and other casseroles are way out of my league.I simply like it.

                          That said,if my friends or family asked me to make a green bean casserole,made the way it was intended,I would do it.Trying to doctor it up would kinda seem like you were looking down your nose at their simple request and would telegraph your distaste for their suggestion.

                          Take Care,Robin

                        2. I make the usual (per Campbell's recipe_ w/ more soy sauce and 1/2 canned and 1/2 fresh green beans. I don't cook the fresh and I rinse the canned. SO and DS and ALL guests LOVE it and even gobble up the nuked leftovers. Um, me, not so much - but they love it and appreciate and so I serve it. . . .maybe cuz' I butter the pan I put it in. . . .Dunno, but it's absolutely not a crime to make and serve it.

                          1. Although I've never had the dish in any form, I'd give your friend the "traditional" version. You might be surprised that other guests gobble it up as well. Salt, grease, MSG, probably HFCS - what's not to like?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              I grew up eating green bean casserole, and love it. BUT, now that I'm in culinary school, I learned how to make it 1000 times better than I ever could have imagined. You can duplicate the mushroom soup and fried onions with a homemade version that will knock your socks off!

                              Dice 2 strips bacon and render in a pan. Dice one onion and 1 cup mushrooms, saute in bacon grease. Melt 1 tbs. butter in the pan. Add two tbs. flour and whisk until it forms a paste (roux). Add 1 cup chicken stock and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Thin with addl chix stock until you reach the consistency of the mushroom soup normally used.

                              Slice 8 shallots paper thin, separate the pieces and toss in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry in oil until frizzled and crispy, immediately sprinkle shallots with salt when they come out of the oil.

                              If using fresh green beans, blanch them. If using frozen, add them to a casserole dish. Layer the dish with the mushroom mixture and frizzled onions just like you normally would, and bake until heated through.

                              Feel free to email me if you need a more detailed recipe :-)
                              -Dawn

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Sam's the Man on this one, I totally agree, give them what they want , it's Thanksgiving after all, anything goes.

                              2. I too love the real thing but admit it's definatly not creative - WHY NOT...... present it differently?? Not sure how many people you are hosting but could you do individual ramekins to change up the presention, like my shephards pie (see pic, this was sort of a joke) - or maybe make it into a savory strudel, wrapping in phyllo or puff. Just a thought. Have fun.

                                http://www.chow.com/photos/294423

                                1. Just today there was a version in the New York Times-- made from scratch. It sounds good, and you say your guest is "open to variations"

                                  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/din...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: DGresh

                                    i just jumped online to post the same link :)

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Me too.

                                      The NYTimes recipe looks good.

                                      But I think the traditional version can make sense for T-giving when people crave what they've always had.

                                  2. I had a weird idea, but work with me here. How about a green bean tempura, using crispy fried onions or shallots in the coating, with a mushroom-caramelized onion dip?

                                    I'm thinking of blanching sturdy green beans (if necessary), then dipping in your fried-onion tempura batter and frying until crispy.

                                    The dipping sauce would be something like sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions with sour cream, creme fraiche, a bit of Worc. sauce, etc. Or, you could try this recipe:
                                    http://www.recipezaar.com/Caramelized...

                                    That would be different, alright!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                                      Mmmmmmm. That sounds really good. Maybe not for Thanksgiving but definitely for sometime soon.

                                    2. I'm on the side of making the traditional Campbell's recipe. That is what she wants. It's easy, it's cheap and it will mean a lot to her. Trying to pretty it up, or change it, etc. makes it more about you (and more work for you) than it does about honoring her humble request.

                                      1. As others have said, the Trader Joe's canned fried onions are a big improvement over the French or Durkee's. Less salty, with more onion flavor coming through. I wouldn't wait till the last minute to look for them at TJ's - they are very popular this time of year. A plastic jar of fried shallots/onions from the Asian market is another way to go.

                                        1. Hrm, I was sure I'd posted about this last night, but I don't see it any longer.

                                          I didn't explain the situation well in the original post: The guest is my sister in law, who kind of challenged me to do a twist on the soup recipe. I asked what she wanted, and she said, "It's not Thanksgiving without green bean casserole, but I'd like to see what can come up with."

                                          She's one of my best friends, and there's zero stress or snobbiness involved here. It's all in the interest of trying something new yet still in the realm of that dish.

                                          I should have also noted that I've made scratch versions of the casserole recipe in the past, and they're good -- but it's not a texture that most of the rest of us are terribly fond of.

                                          I'd like a way to get beans - mushrooms - onions together, with or without the cream as needed.

                                          Right now, I'm leaning toward another thread's suggestion of green bean bundles (blanched beans wrapped in bacon, drizzled with butter and baked till crispy). I think I'll add strips of portobella and top them with frizzled leeks or shallots. That way, I don't have a cream sauce competing with the gravy.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                            one of my favorite thanksgiving recipes has saute'd green beans with a slow roasted onion topping which is a bit sweet-and-sour. No mushrooms but I don't see why you couldn't saute some and add them to the green beans.

                                            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                          2. Alton Brown also has a delicious recipe for making this dish from fresh ingredients. It's a bit more work, but tasty.

                                            I actually don't like the texture of mushrooms, but I do like the flavour they give a dish. So the couple of times I've made this casserole I've cooked the mushrooms in the sauce until they release their liquid and flavour, then actually removed them before adding the beans and continuing.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: FrenchSoda

                                              I made a scaled-down version of Alton Brown's green bean casserole when I cooked Thanksgiving for two, and it was delicious!

                                            2. I make the original Campbell's version every Thanksgiving and everyone loves it, including me. Don't bother using fresh green beans for this recipe. The beans are cooked before hand and then baked, so frozen beans work just fine.

                                              Several years ago I went with friends to a very nice Thanksgiving buffet where they had a "gourmet" version of a green bean casserole that featured blanched green beans. None of us liked it, the stiff beans just didn't mix well in the dish.

                                              I certainly don't think that it diminishes me as a "Chowhound" if I open a can from time to time. I'd say make the recipe as called for (be sure you stir it well when you add the remaining onions towards the end of cooking- it does make a difference) and don't bother with fancy soups or dried onions from high end stores. There isn't any need to over think it or try to make it what it isn't meant to be.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Axalady

                                                Just an aside to mention that if you are under the impression that Trader Joe's is high end, or fussy/fancy, you couldn't be more mistaken. It has prices that rival and often beat typical supermarkets. Its store-branded groceries and staples are usually of high quality and it carries other brands as well. Atmosphere is laid-back and customer-friendly.

                                                I like the basic green bean casserole too. I have never made it myself. The ones I have sampled have always been made with french-cut frozen green beans but I think I would try it with Italian-style cut green beans if I ever make it.

                                              2. Sara Moulton has a great recipe called Green Bean Casserole Moderne, and it's wonderful. You basically make your own "cream of mushroom" sauce, and fry your own onion toppings. We have made it a few times before and get raves every time. I will be making it this holiday, as I am hosting this year. Let me know, and I can post it for you, I've got in on my hard drive.