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A casserole made from Campbell's condensed cream soups, noodles or rice, and leftover meat and vegetables is old-fashioned comfort food for many North Americans. Unfortunately, most condensed soups are extremely high in salt. Those on sodium-restricted diets should avoid them; after a little time-out from processed foods, you find anything made with them much, much too salty.

But have no fear, a substitute is here! This is, essentially, a very thick velouté sauce with seasonings and sautéed little bits of foodstuffs included in the Campbell's soup "Cream of" title and label.

Ingredients


1 tablespoon butter (or regular "stick" margarine, if you must)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup low sodium chicken, beef or vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk (go for whole milk if your diet allows)
1 cup finely diced, sautéed bits of vegetables or meats named on the soup can label

Directions

Combine the milk and broth in a small pitcher or liquid measuring cup; set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Turn up the flame to medium-low, and whisk in the flour. Don't stop the stirring motion of your whisk! When the mixture reaches a very quiet boil (small, whimpy bubbles), cook for two minutes, stirring/whisking constantly.

Add the milk and broth mixture about two tablespoons at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, and stir in your sautéed meats or veggies. Remove the saucepan from the stove, and transfer the sauce to a bowl until ready to use in your favorite recipe.

Cook's notes:

1. My substitute for Cream of Mushroom soup is made using beef broth, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Better than Bullion makes a good mushroom base if you want to avoid meat products.

2. Cream of Celery soup can be made with chicken or rich vegetable broth - don't forget the sautéed celery and onion.

3. You don't need to add diced, sautéed chicken to your homemade Cream of Chicken substitute, but do use a rich chicken broth.

4. If you don't know what I'm talkin' bout, I give the nod to a couple of creamed soup classics: Green Bean Casserole and Tuna-Noodle Casserole. You don't know what you're missing on a cold day with good friends and a big appetite!

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