My vintage cookbooks are filled with recipes that require some form of condensed cream soups. Cream of mushroom seems to be the hands-down favorite, followed closely by cream of chicken, but there are still a healthy number of recipes that call for cream of celery or cream of potato. In terms of convenience and cost it doesn’t get much easier than cracking open a can of soup, and if you’re looking for the authentic mid-century casserole taste this is really your only option.
But there may be scenarios when whipping up a homemade soup is preferable, especially if you’re concerned about sodium intake. This particular recipe was born out of simple waste-not-want-not. I was planning to make Meat Balls in Dill Sauce and knew I would have a few extra potatoes on hand from Sunday night’s Japanese Curry. And so I adapted a recipe from a 1962 church cookbook to fill the need. It takes about 30 minutes start to finish, and can be made two or three days in advance.
Many recipes call for reconstituted soup (i.e. one can soup + one can milk) – in which case this, or any other cream of potato soup recipe will work just fine. But occasionally a casserole or sauce will use the condensed soup undiluted, without additional liquid. You could, in principle, make “condensed” soup by simmering the soup uncovered until reduced by half. This seems like a pain. In my adaptation below I’ve used evaporated milk. Let the factory do the simmering for you.
For the vegetables:
- 1 cup potatoes (diced)
- 1 tbsp sweet onion (minced)
- 1 cup boiling water
For the white sauce:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups milk (for regular soup OR)
- 1 cup canned evaporated milk (for condensed soup)
- freshly ground black pepper
- celery salt
- Boil potatoes and onions in water - covered - until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Mash potatoes slightly, if desired, but don't drain them.
- In a separate sauce pan, make the white sauce. Melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and salt to make a roux. Slowly pour in milk OR evaporated milk, stirring constantly, until mixture is rich and creamy. Turn to a low simmer.
- Add white sauce to cooked potatoes (including the remaining cooking water). Stir and season to taste with black pepper and celery salt.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups of “condensed soup” (about two cans’ worth) or 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cream of potato soup.