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General Mills, Gluten Free Condensed Soup and a Menu Plan

Before I share this week’s menu plan, I’d like to share an excerpt from Friday’s New York Times Magazine article, Should We All Go Gluten Free? that caught my eye (bold emphasis added).

During the week of my visit to General Mills, eight women attended Alcocer’s meeting. Lunch was served and questions were asked. Alcocer was interested in the holidays. What did they miss?  What did they need?  How could Gluten Freely make their lives easier?

The women talked about how hard it was to go to holiday parties and find nothing to eat for their children.  They discussed the need for better pie crusts.  Then one of them, Mary Podvin, raised a subject that resonated with everyone at the table: Casseroles. 

There was something, Podvin said, about gluten-free Progresso cream of mushroom soup that simply didn’t work in the casseroles she loved to make.  “It needs to be — ”

“Gelatinous!” answered Dena Larson, from across the table.

“Glue,” Podvin said with a nod.  A gelatinous glue was exactly what cream of mushroom soup typically brought to a good casserole — and that’s what they wanted now from their gluten-free recipes.

“Is that even possible, though?” Carol Bagnoli, whose 3-year-old son eats gluten-free, asked.

“Anything,” Alcocer replied, “is possible.”

The women at the table laughed.  The notion that anything is possible isn’t one that gluten-free folks hear very often.  But Alcocer wasn’t joking.  It was, he told me after the lunch, “a holy-moly moment.”  He had no idea that casserole was a problem for his customers.  There were, after all, recipes for casseroles on the Gluten Freely Web site. “But if it doesn’t turn out,” he said now, “it’s no good to anybody.  So we’re going to go down to the kitchen, and we’re going to say: ‘We need help. These people need help.’  How can we get that can to become that can?”  In other words, how could they get a can of gluten-free Progresso soup to act like the can of condensed soup called for in the recipes that his customers loved?  “There’s got to be a way,” Alcocer said, “to take this great product and make it work.”

Um, I could have told them that.  Progresso Cream of Mushroom Soup is a NOT a suitable replacement for Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup.  Not even close, it’s entirely too watery.  I know this as I’m a casserole/”hot dish” expert…I’ve got some serious Midwestern blood coursing through my veins!  One of the primary reasons I cheated for 3 years after my celiac diagnosis was because I didn’t know what to eat – EVERY SINGLE ONE of my family recipes called for that darned can of condensed soup! :shock:

And I absolutely agree with Dom Alcocer, the gluten free guru over at General Mills…”Anything IS Possible” when it comes to the gluten free diet, and I have the battle scars to prove it.  Where do you think my tag line, “Where there is a will, THERE IS A WAY” came from?  How do you think I finally managed to quit cheating on the gluten free diet a few years ago?  Why do you think my non-celiac husband voluntarily gave up gluten after our son was diagnosed with celiac disease?

We didn’t do it because we love eating cardboard disguised as food.  We did it because we figured out how to make the gluten free foods we wanted that tasted BETTER than the gluten-filled foods we craved!

And yes, it also helped that companies like General Mills stepped up to the plate for the gluten free community and I am deeply appreciative to them for that.  Even though I limit my family’s consumption of gluten free convenience foods, they are indeed a lifesaver at times.

So, you want a gluten free condensed soup that is a “gelatinous glue” to hold your favorite family casseroles together?

I’ve got ya covered my friends and it’s almost as easy as opening that famous BPA-lined can!

Gluten Free Condensed Mushroom Soup

Gluten Free Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

And General Mills…you are welcome to the recipe if you’d like to mass produce it (preferably free of GMOs and strange 20-syllable chemical additives please…those of us with ill intestines really don’t need any more problems).  I actually thought of sending the recipe to Campbell’s a few years ago, along with a marketing plan that included green soup labels (hey, they make pink labels for Breast Cancer Awareness, so why not?).  I mean really, talk about a gold mine!  (And while you’re at it, a dairy-free version would be great too…just sayin’) :-D

Menu Plan – Week of November 28

Monday: Roast Beef Salad (recipe to come)

Tuesday: Smoked Sausage and White Bean Soup* (see note) and fruit salad  Note: I use Applegate Farms Smoked Pork Kielbasa which is gluten and casein free.

Wednesday: Seared Flank Steak with Shallot Mustard Sauce* (see note) baked sweet potatoes and garlicky green beans  Note: The 365 brand of Dijon mustard at Whole Foods is corn-free and I will use expeller pressed coconut oil instead of the corn oil and homemade dairy-free/corn-free butter.

Thursday: Sweet and Sour Sicilian Chicken and Salad

Friday: Fish Tacos* (see note), and fruit salad   Note: Due to my corn allergy, I either eat these “open-faced” or wrapped either in a lettuce or Swiss chard leaf (Swiss chard is very mild so if you are green adverse, this is a good “entry level” green to try.  We also omit the sour cream and cheese altogether and still think they taste great!

Saturday: Steak Chili

Sunday: Chicken Piccata* (see note), Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Salad **I will skip dredging the chicken in flour since I’m grain-free but dredging the chicken in sweet rice flour (a.k.a. glutinous rice flour) is a great gluten-free dredging flour.  I highly recommend purchasing the superfine rice flours from Authentic Foods, they have a great texture and zero grit.

Lastly, here’s a new video from Dr. Vikki Petersen on How to Get Rid of Your “Dessert Stomach

Have you ever tried my gluten-free condensed soup recipes?

If so, how did they work in your favorite casserole recipes?

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Comments

  1. Jen says:

    Hey Heidi, Your recipe for magic mix uses cow's milk dairy. There's a note on the recipe regarding alternatives, but you note that it makes it sweeter. I was wondering how you've changed the recipe since going dairy free? Thanks! Jen

    • Hi Jen,

      The truth is, I haven't changed the recipe since going dairy-free…I changed my diet instead. I've been on a journey to seriously overhaul how I eat and I haven't made a casserole since I went dairy-free a year ago (I didn't find much sense in it when most of my casserole recipes also call for cheese – and I'm still too much of a dairy-free newbie to have embraced the dairy-free "cheeses" yet, LOL!).

      Alisa over at Go Dairy-Free has a great looking dairy-free condensed mushroom soup recipe in her book, I definitely recommend checking that out.

  2. Shayne says:

    I found a gf condensed cream of mushroom soup that worked very well in my green bean casserole in the health food section at Kroger. It is made by Pacific Natural Foods. It's in a box, not a can.

  3. Wendi says:

    Too bad the NYTimes article had nothing to do with the title. It was basically a big ad for General Mills. Kudos to GM for bringing gluten free products to the mainstream I guess. But some of the comments following that article? Ouch!

  4. Karen says:

    heidi, i am also dairy free in the past 4 months and gluten free for about 18 months. we use daiya and it has worked out great for us. we make a great mac and cheese that is creamy and good but casseroles, well, that is a toughie. i have found some gluten free soups that are dairy free too that i have not tried yet (wolf gang puck) but they are chic and rice and the like. i just bought myself a ninja for christmas and am a chef so i am hoping to have even more replacements for my 3 boys and i and my non gfdf husband. i will keep you updated.

  5. Michelle O says:

    Love your comments being a fellow Mid-Western girl too! My boys won't eat casseroles, something about food all mixed together that their sensory can't handle. It's been fun but I have to agree with the one line "Anything is possible" , especially when there is a mom attempting it. I have tried your condensed soup recipe I believe, and I think I used the non dairy powdered milk "better than milk" and then maybe so delicious coconut milk to make a chicken tortilla soup. The husband who complains about gluten and dairy free foods didn't notice it :)

  6. Heidi, I totally admire anyone's "can do" spirit when it comes to living gluten free, and you demonstrate daily exactly what one can do when living gluten free and much more free! I love you for that! I also appreciate that companies are trying to serve the gluten-free population. Having attended General Mills Gluten-Free Bloggers' Summit and having met Dom Alcocer and interacted with him personally at that event, I think he's a great guy. All that said, I still don't believe their products are safe for us to eat. I react to them and many others do, too. I get at least one email a week from someone who has seen my post on the General Mills' event I attended where I state my concerns on their products. The folks in the emails either say that they continue to have reactions when they eat General Mills gluten-free products or they'd been having ongoing gluten issues but weren't sure where it was from and then stopped Chex, Betty Crocker baking mixes, etc. and the problems went away. General Mills gluten-free products are not certified gluten free by a third-party organization like GFCO. Instead, like many companies, they choose to do their own internal testing using the R5 Elisa testing. They maintain that all their products meet the less than 20 ppm level of gluten. If that is the case, then there are some of us who react to that level. I believe that's true from my own reactions to products ("canary in a coal mine" here), but I also question the safety of their products. If anyone is reading is having some continuing issues and eats GM products on a regular basis, eliminate them and see what happens.

    I agree with Wendi that the article was mostly a big GM promo, so I stopped reading it. I didn't read the comments either, but will have to now.

    Not trying to be difficult or controversial, but I won't use General Mills products and don't recommend them for anyone else either.

    I used the Progresso mushroom soup right after going gluten free. As long as one left out the liquid in the recipe, it worked okay. But if I recall, that soup has soy like so many other Progresso soups, so I no longer use it. Thank you and Alisa for your condensed soup options! Most of the time though, I just spend about 10 minutes sauteing mushrooms and/or celery, adding non-dairy milk, and reduing all to a thick sauce. Works great.

    Yum on your weekly meal plan! xoxo,

    Shirley

  7. MsMissy says:

    Ummmm…..ok why even bother…caned soup of any kind is NASTY!

    to replace that nasty caned stuff in ANY casserole or other recipe all you need to do is:

    Quick "Cream of Whatever"

    Place 3 cups of basic stock in a large saucepan

    Add 1 cup of diced "whatever"

    2 Tbs Parsley

    and about 3 tsp worth of what herbs go best (basil, thyme, sage…etc)

    allow to simmer until reduced by half

    in a small skillet add 2 tbsp salted butter, 1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter you may wish a bit more)

    Add 3 Tbsp of your fave G-Free Flour and 1 tsp of Tapioca or cornstarch

    brown the flour slightly to make a roux

    deglaze with 1/4 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream

    pour into your reduction

    simmer and stir for about 5 mins.

    If you want a chunkier texture just add the resulting cup and a half of soup to your recipe….if you like it smoother use either an immersion blender or pour the mix into a blender that handles hot foods and pulse to desired creaminess.

    this has always gotten my g-free casseroles raves, even from those who don't need to avoid the gluten. Hope this helps.

  8. A green soup can? Anything is possible! But we can do our own soups with surprising little effort, so don't let the big manufacturers run your life.

  9. Ann says:

    I know this is an older post, but I really appreciate it. My husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease years ago and I’ve really missed condensed cream of mushroom. This year somebody requested Green Bean Casserole for Christmas so I went looking for info and up popped your post!

    I’ve contacted Campbells specifically about suggestions for gluten-free products. All I got back was a form response that had very little to do with what I wrote. It was an explanation of their labeling standards for GF products, which I had already read on their website. Rather disappointing.

    But…thank you so much for the recipe!

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