5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! is a holiday classic, the green bean casserole.
For those of you who did not grow up in the U.S., the green bean casserole is a staple of many American Thanksgiving celebrations, and generally consists of some variation of canned or frozen green beans, cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese or imitation cheese product, and bread crumbs or fried onions. It's a gloriously and unabashedly white trash dish, and it conforms perfectly to my late, much-missed mom's philosophy of cooking: Do as little as possible.
My mom had 3 basic rules when it came to cooking for Thanksgiving (or most anytime):
- Chop nothing
- Whenever possible, use frozen or canned ingredients
- Mix everything together and add copious amounts of milk, cream, and/or pre-shredded cheese. Bake.
My mom's version featured "fancy cut" French style frozen green beans, Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, and several bags of pre-shredded cheddar cheese. Procedure: Dump the beans in a Pyrex casserole, mix the soup and cheese, pour it over the beans, add a layer of bread crumbs, bake until bubbly. An alternate version featured cheese melted into hot milk and then poured over the beans, but the rest stayed the same. No onions on our holiday table: my fussy father wouldn't eat them. (Or garlic, tomatoes, fish, or any lettuce but iceberg.)
For the purposes of nostalgia (and because I am not too proud to admit that I kind of like it) I have made the dish over the years in just the way she did - no fresh bean substitutions, no gourmet cheese, no chopping of anything, ever.
And so to create a gourmet version, I decided to deconstruct it into its relatively few components and turn it into a soup. Given that the cheese was always the star, so too it remains in my green bean casserole soup. Since Poppa Trix is thankfully entirely un-fussy, I have added one thing: crispy fried onions. Or, to be more precise, Cronions, which I brought back from Iceland. These are a crucial ingredient in the incredibly delicious Icelandic lamb hot dog, and I couldn't face life without them upon my return. You may of course substitue any crispy fried onion.
Since this is all about being, you know, fancy and all, I used haricots verts and opted for a tableside plating. The blanched beans are slivered and placed, along with slices of white mushroom, in the bottom of a small bowl. The hot cheese soup is poured over top, and it's finished with those addictive little Cronions:
Poppa Trix took one bite of this and pronounced that it was indeed green bean casserole in soup form. In other words: success!
Cheddar Cheese Soup with Haricots Verts, Mushrooms, & Cronions
2-3 blanched haricots verts per serving, slivered
3 slices of mushroom per serving
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable for vegetarian version)
1 cup whole milk, lukewarm
1 peeled shallot
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
salt, to taste
Place the mushroom slices and haricots verts at the bottom of the soup bowls. In a sauce pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. While it's still bubbling, slowly whisk in the flour , lower the heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, for 5 minutes. Slowly whisk the milk into the roux. Slowly whisk the stock into this, place the shallot in the liquid, and simmer until thickened. Remove the shallot. Slowly add the cheese, stirring constantly until incorporated. Salt and white pepper to taste. Pour the hot soup over the mushrooms and beans and garnish with crispy fried onions, shallots, or best of all - Cronions!
You can check out the group's other green bean casserole transformations on November 29, when Natasha posts them on her site. Follow the link below - and have a happy, drama-free Thanksgiving!