Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cheddar Cheese Soup with Haricots Verts, Mushrooms, & Cronions; A Green Bean Casserole Makeover

In honor of Thanksgiving, the theme for this month's 5 Star Makeover, hosted as ever by Natasha of 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. 
As a kid I loved the Thanksgiving canned creamed corn puddings, seven-layer salads with dressing from a Hidden Valley Ranch mix packet, Stove Top stuffing crammed into the inevitably dry turkey, jars of gravy, cans of cranberry sauce, and, of course, the Green Bean Casserole. If anything was better than a green vegetable disguised under mountains of gooey cheese, I had yet to discover it.

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 servings)

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
white pepper

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!


  1. I want mine with extra cronions!!! What a marvelous makeover, Trix...you've captured the best of this white trash favorite and made it gourmet!

  2. I love the makeover, especially the tableside pour, and I love the story about your mom's cooking philosophy.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  3. This is gorgeous, Trix. Loved hearing about your mom's cooking philosophy...she reminds me a little of my own mom! :)

    This would be a lovely starter for Thanksgiving...or a meal in itself on a chilly night. I need cronions, lol!!

  4. I have only enjoyed the original version a few times. My grandmother would cook it when Thanksgiving was at her house. I only remember being there once or twice before my mother mercifully took over all holiday cooking chores. (Probably to save her family.) But truthfully, I know she would have enjoyed this version more as she did love good food, just didn't know much of making it. Quite a lovely make over my dear! Beautiful really...

  5. Your mom's rules are smart...no chopping...sigh, I spend all day the day before chopping!

  6. Did your mom know my mom? My parents still have a wall of Campbell's soup and canned goods of the interesting variety...
    As always, I am in awe of your interpretation.

  7. YUM Trix - nothing beats white trash cooking - ya know I don't care for those uppity foods nor do I enjoy dining at establishments serving pretense. But then, somehow you can always bring about such that makes me accept a dish that is haute cuisine and because you are the Trix, this reconstructed green bean casserole soup is one I think is of Grande Cuisine status. Bravo. And love your mom's take on cooking - would've been fun being a sous chef under her .....

  8. Oh brilliant I would not have thought of soup. I really like your gourmet version...even if you like the traditional ish. Some things must remain as they are in our good memories.

  9. A terrific idea - the soup looks wonderfully delicious and I love the idea of "cronions" :)

  10. Actually, I have yet to try anything cheesy that I didn't love. This looks fabulous—you've come a long way, baby. ;=)

  11. Beautiful deconstruction! I love that you focused on the cheese component and made that the highlight of the soup. Nice tableside plating :)

  12. That is exactly how my mother made her green bean casserole...but no cheese. I think I was Cheated :(
    I am also feeling pretty deprived that I am not able to taste this gorgeous soup right now...love this!

  13. What a delicious soup.Looks creamy and velvety! wonderful makeover!