Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole (with no cream soups!)By
I am a canned Cream of Fill in the Blank Soup rebel. I have avoided canned cream soups since we began Our Healthy Eating Journey. Why? Because their ingredient lists scare me. (As in, I literally scream out loud, from deep in the back of my throat, when I pick up a can and read it at the store. Not really. But I wonder what my boys would do if I did? Maybe I’ll do that sometime. Not really.)
The ingredients in a can of Campbell’s Cream of Celery Soup, according to the Campbell’s Food Service Website are (and do try not to scream when you read this):
Water, Celery, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola, and/or Soybean), Wheat Flour, Modified Food Starch, Contains less than 2% of: Salt, Soy Protein Concentrate, Monosodium Glutamate, Cream Powder (Cream [Milk], Soy Lecithin), Yeast Extract, Flavoring, Beta Carotene for Color.
Well, at least the first two ingredients are water and celery. ;)
There are all kinds of recipes which share how to make homemade cream soups. I’ve tried some of them, and I’m thankful that the recipes are available. For some reason though, I just haven’t had a loving enough relationship with cream soup to try to keep the homemade varieties on hand.
The question is then, how do you make a casserole without a cream soup? Ah, very simple: I use cream.
Cream of what? No, just cream. Cream. The stuff that rises to the top of your raw milk. Or the thick, white liquid you can buy in the dairy department of the store, usually labeled Heavy Whipping Cream. If you use cream, along with a few spices that enhance your casserole, your dish will be tasty, easy and surprise, surprise: creamy.
Here is how I now make my Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole with real, whole food ingredients:
Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
4 cups chicken broth (I avoid canned broth or bouillon because they are also loaded with MSG. Here’s my easy homemade chicken broth recipe, which includes frighteningly ugly pictures of a chicken carcass. Again, try not to scream.)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups brown rice
2-3 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon (or more) garlic powder
Sea salt, to taste
1 1/2 cups cream (heavy whipping cream, or fresh cream which has risen to the top of whole, raw milk)
In a large pot, bring chicken broth, carrots and onion to a boil at high heat. Add rice, stir, and place the lid on the pot. Reduce heat to low and cook the rice and vegetables in the broth for 45 minutes. (To avoid sticky rice, don’t stir the rice while it’s trying to cook – just walk away and ignore it for the entire 45 minutes. You can do it.)
When the rice is done, stir in cooked chicken, garlic powder and cream. Shake in liberal amounts of sea salt for best flavor. (I use Redmonds Real Sea Salt, which is unbleached and full of natural minerals.) Cook ingredients for about five more minutes to heat the chicken and cream. Serve directly from pot, or pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish. This meal can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated and reheated in the oven at serving time. Cover and heat in a 350° oven for 20-30 minutes or until hot through and through. Serves eight.
(You can also freeze this meal. To reheat, simply put the frozen, covered casserole into the oven, turn the oven onto 350° and cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until it is heated thoroughly.)
Cooking your rice in the chicken broth gives this dish a wonderful, naturally delicious flavor. And in case I didn’t mention it before, the cream makes this dish…creamy.
Where have you landed on the Cream of Fill in the Blank issue? Have you given them up yet? Have you ever screamed out loud when reading the ingredient list on a can of soup at the store? Do you make your own cream soups? Or do you use another substitution? (Sour cream works well too, in some recipes!)