As the ingredients list in commercially-canned “Cream of Crud” soup gets longer and longer, you may be looking for an actually FOOD-based equivalent to add that creamy, saucy, comforting touch to many recipes you’d like to make at home.
Once A Month Mom has a great base recipe (easy to adapt to your own dietary needs) on her site. Having Cream of Something Soup base packets in your freezer can be a grand way to add more food to your food, and be better prepared for fast meals.
You know all those pasta/veggie freezer meals you see advertised? The sort with the “creamy sauce?” You can do that at home, from single-ingredient frozen veggies or veggie blends (unseasoned–you’ll save a stack there!), freshly-boiled pasta, and a portion of sauce base, with a bit of added herbs, maybe some Parmesan cheese… fantastic, fast meals from real food. How lovely!
One Orange Giraffe has also shared a recipe for a shelf-stable, just-add-water Cream of Something Soup base. It’s a bit less real-food than the OaM-Mom version, but still makes a great addition to your nifty food skills, and makes those last-minute meal ideas so much easier!
Now, pretend you’re married to a Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal fellow who had a tiny Sicilian great-grandmother on one side of the family. Cream of Something did not enter her vocabulary, let alone her kitchen, and thus, your Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal fellow has a bit of a genetic bias against CoS preparations. Add in several children who aren’t always fans of tomato based “gravy” for pasta dishes. And, add in your own great dislike of the “cooked” taste of all bottled creamy pasta sauces ever commercially canned. You’re going to need some additional skills to satisfy everyone, and easy white-sauce options might just suit. Bonus: they’re both based on actual food, as well!
If you have some basics on hand, you can make a real Alfredo sauce in about the same amount of time it takes to mix up a packet or open a can. The flavor is so much nicer when the food is real! Here’s a cream-based Alfredo from 100 Days of Real Food. It’s purely decadent, and so good!
I make an even easier version of creamy pasta sauce that uses the pasta water for the creamy aspect. I call it “Slacker Alfredo.” You may find you love it.
- In unsalted water, cook about a pound of pasta al dente. Reserve a cup of the cooking water.
- Drain the pasta and hold it for a moment.
- Add about 1/4 cup of butter to the pasta pot, and briefly saute a tablespoon of minced garlic (which I keep in the fridge all the time. You can also sub garlic granules–a solid pinch of them–if you’re *really* slacking or living on pantry staples.)
- Add the pasta back to the pot, and dump in about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan (and since I rarely have fresh, I used the bulk Parm from WinCo.)
- Toss and stir; add a bit more butter if you like, and also drizzle in the pasta water, to get the cheese melting and the sauce saucy.
- Add several grinds of good peppercorn mix, and perhaps a bit of fine-chopped rosemary, or more garlic.
- Toss in steamed veggies if you like
- Use that remaining pasta water to loosen up the sauce a tad, if needed, and serve that pasta!
To use an old phrase: it’s larruping good.
(That means you sort of want to shovel it into your face and use your tongue to slurp up the remnants from your bowl, your fork, and your chin.)
Pardon: I need to go help my Eldest format her camp planning ideas into an easily-readable sheet she can use to Take Over the World. I’m so very proud of her!