Monday, February 28, 2011

Cream of Green Bean Casserole Soup - My Legume Love Affair 32 and Souper Sundays

Cream of Green Bean Casserole Soup

Growing up a child of a mostly scratch cook, I never enjoyed the perennial U.S. holiday ritual of a certain casserole comprised primarily of opening a few cans. It's not that there weren't cans of soup in the house during the year for a quick lunch (cream of mushroom was my favorite), but my mother always made sure the feast tables were laden with painstakingly prepared fare. I did not know that my childhood was deprived until I got married. That's when, while menu planning for holiday visits, my husband and in-laws looked at me like I had three heads: no green bean casserole?

Ever the accommodating hostess, I set out to correct this egregious error of my mother's ways by making my very first green bean casserole, from scratch. It was not a matter of claiming culinary superiority. I simply did not know how to get my head around convenience foods. Old habits and tastes are programmed into us at a very early age. We all love and find comfort in whatever was served to us as kids. Yet I had other mouths to feed beside my own, so I fashioned a compromise where 75 percent of the dish would evoke memories of my past, and 25 percent would please everyone else. An uneven distribution, you might say, but one that was well balanced nonetheless, because that 25 percent was the indisputable, inviolate ingredient, the all-important canned French fried onions.

It's been a few years since I first debuted that recipe, and it is one that I have made again, to good reviews, even when we've hosted my own family. And I must admit, the canned onions do make the dish. In fact, they make it so well that this souped up version cannot do without them. When they are dropped into the hot and steamy bowls, they immediately soften into ragged and rich dumplings. I'm more hooked on them than ever before. I don't have three heads anymore, but two are better than one.

Haricots Verts

Cream of Green Bean Casserole Soup - My own recipe inspired by the original casserole classic*

Serves 4.


2 pounds green beans, stems trimmed
4 cups water
1/2 pound white mushrooms, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (any fat content)
1 cup half and half, light cream, or heavy cream (use whole milk if you want to trim more fat)
2 teaspoons onion powder (not onion salt)
2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 cup canned French fried onions


In a large saucepan, boil beans in water until tender but not mushy (about 10 minutes). Carefully transfer beans and water to a blender or food processor container. Process until puréed. (The texture will have some fiber in it; it will not be as refined as strained baby food.) Reserve. In a small skillet, sauté mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter until lightly browned and most of their liquid has evaporated. Reserve.

Prepare a roux. In large saucepan used to boil beans, melt 2 tablespoons butter over low heat until just melted. Add flour, stirring until a sizzling paste forms. (A wooden spoon works well for this.) Keep stirring, occasionally turning over the paste until it expands and thickens; do not let it burn (about 2 minutes). Replace spoon with a whisk. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly until paste melts into milk as it heats (it will be lumpy at first). Whisk constantly until sauce thickens and bubbles. Add half and half, onion powder, salt, and ground white pepper. Stir in green beans and mushrooms. Taste for seasoning, but keep in mind that commercial fried onions will be adding their own salt. Divide soup into bowls. Serve soup with fried onions on the side. They need to be added right before eating for the best texture.

Cream of Green Bean Casserole Soup

This recipe is for Sandy of Sandhya's Kitchen, host of My Legume Love Affair 32. Sandy is now busy finalizing the round-up. It will be published by week's end.

Dee of Ammalu's Kitchen is now hosting My Legume Love Affair 33 for March. MLLA marks Dee's return to food blogging after a very long hiatus to tend to happy family matters. Please give her a hearty welcome with your wonderful recipes. She'll be happy to renew old friendships and make new acquaintances.

I have also prepared this recipe for Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, the creator and host of the fun weekly Souper ( Soup, Salad and Sammies) Sundays.

Been There, Done That ~
Potage Saint-Germain
Haricots Verts Amandine
Lima Bean and Artichoke Soup

Other People's Eats ~
Spicy Green Beans with Ginger and Garlic from The Perfect Pantry
Brown Butter Green Beans with Almonds from Andrea Meyers
Green Bean Curry from No Recipes

*This is not a sponsored post.


  1. canned French fried onions? My first time hearing this! Now I really want to try this one out :)

  2. The only can that my mother opened was that of tuna. As a kid, the can opener has a mystical aura around it, since it was used only for one thing. I have never seen a can of fried onion: how may heads does that give me? I love the color of the soup. I am also craving green beans.

  3. a great soup! I've never used beans in that way.



  4. Interesting! I have used green beans in many ways as it is a common ingredient in Indian dishes but never thought of it in a soup. Looks divine.

  5. It's been a few days that I am dreaming of a French beans soup, yours come at a perfect time! It looks perfect, tasty and creamy.
    The canned French Fried Onion will be challenging to find here, though :-)

  6. Ooo, I'll have to save this recipe for the next time I get together with my sister. She and I did a 'cook off' with green bean casseroles a few Thanksgivings ago (eek--2007!) and it was fun.

  7. Just lovely Susan. As I have said time and time again, I wished we lived next door to each other.

  8. lovely flavours you have used for this soup looks delicious

  9. Never knew beans coud be pureed into such a pleasing soup! Have to try this.
    Canned french fried onion? I learn something everyday. :)

  10. I love this twist on the classic casserole! It sounds so elegant and refined and like the perfect recipe to beckon spring on.

  11. Those tiny and tasty fried onion are addictive! I grew up on that super easy, convenience green bean casserole and to be honest, I'd love a different way to snazz up the holiday table. This soup looks perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  12. I always thought a casserole was a stewed/cheesed dish of veggies or meat! And that the soup powder only gave it the bulk.

  13. huuuuuuuuuuu...thats a delicious soup...yum

  14. Just beautiful. I am wondering how this will be without using mushrooms?

  15. wow...lovely combo and sooo yummy...:)


  16. Anh – They are an American specialty, very small pieces of batter-dipped onions, deeply fried and well salted.

    Simona – Thanks. The color is truly lovely, very different that the dark green of the raw beans. If you overcook them, the color dulls down too much, although there is less overall fiber.

    There was canned tuna in my house, too, as well as beans and Italian tomatoes, but not much else.

    Thanks, Rosa.

    Harini – Thanks. Pretty much anything can be broken down into a sauce of its former self, as long as you have the right tools.

    Hi, Ila! Thanks.

    Vanessa – Thanks. It is tasty and does have the distinctive flavors of the original casserole. You can easily make your own onions, either batter dipping or coating each onion piece twice in flour before frying to a dark golden brown, very crunchy texture. They are really onion rings without being rings.

    Ruhama – That does sound like fun. I'd love to have a cook-off when I get a larger kitchen.

    Lisa – Thanks. Me, too. : )

    Thanks so much, Akheela.

    Aparna – Peas puree much more smoothly, but then it would be an entirely different soup. ; )
    Canned fried onion, I believe, is only something you would find on American shelves w/ the other canned veggies.

    Hi, Kelly. Thanks. It would be more elegant if I had strained the solids out, but then you loose so much of the fiber that gives it a very homey texture, not to mention better nutrition.

    Welcome, Parsley Sage! Those fried onion bits sure are addictive. You could munch through a small can as a snack very easily. Good to see you!

    Sra – You are right. A casserole is a bulky baked dish with a sauce to bind it. This soup uses the ingredients that are in the casserole.

    Hi, Sana! Thanks!

    Champa – Thank you. The flavor would be more strongly pronounced bean, but you could puree a few carrots and a small potato into it to balance it, give it some nuance. To me, the onions are most critical for that special flavor.

    Thanks, Dr. Sameena! Good to see you.

  17. Wow Susan - such a clever recipe. Kudos to you! We always loved that casserole, and this year I brought it back on our Thanksgiving menu, and it was a hit again. The soup is a great idea.

  18. Such a great twist and I am sure the onions are just wonderful in it. Thanks so much for sharing it and Souper Sundays--it's so nice to have you back. ;-)

  19. Thanks, LL. I knew this recipe would resonate with many, many Americans, even though I was initially clueless. ; )

    Hi, Deb! Thanks so much.

  20. I am sure I would love your version more than the processed ones but I am agog at canned fried onions - such a weird idea - not sure I have ever seen it here in Melbourne - but would give it a whirl in this recipe

  21. Hi, Johanna. "Agog" is a good word. It's probably a comparable feeling to those who wonder at Vegemite. My guess is that the canned onions have limited marketed exposure outside the U.S., if at all. As I've noted in an earlier reply above, you can approximate the flavor/texture with your own recipe for deep-fried, well-salted onions.

  22. Never thought of using green beans in soup. It looks great!
    I really want to send something in for MLLA too!

  23. I haughtily discarded the green been casserole from the Thanksgiving menu for the same reasons: It seemed too overprocessed and alien to me. My poor American husband did not object (I accepted most of his mother's recipes, being that I was starting from zero, as in no warm and fuzzy feelings towards any other dishes).
    But soup I can do. And if you promise that those french fry onions are "good eats", I'll relent and try them.
    I have never made green bean soup before, and I am looking forward to my first one (our Persian store has always great, fresh beans, regular and long ones).

  24. LifeNSpice - Welcome! Thank you. Would love to have you join in MLLA, if possible.

    Lana - Fried canned onions are very much an acquired American kitsch condiment. You may love them or hate them, so I can't promise anything but that you probably will not despise them. ; )

  25. I'm totally enamored by this sounds amazing...looks amazing...I really want to try it. It's classic comfort food revamped. Yum!

  26. This is new to me. Looks wonderful.

  27. Susan
    Absolutely gorgeous green color and hearty soup topped with French's fried onions(love it)
    I would like to participate in the My Legume Love Affair 33 and will send in my recipe to Dee