When I used to get home from my paper round as a young fellow, particularly during the colder months, I’d enjoy a cup of soup. Way back then, the range on offer was limited to only a few different sorts and my favourites were hearty beef and cream of chicken.
In my Scouting days, the ubiquitous packet soup was always in my rucksack. These could also be eaten as a snack or combined with rice to make a more substantial meal with a tin of tuna rolled through.
In fact, there is no shortage of ways a packet soup can be used to enhance many meals.
Adding cream of mushroom soup to freshly sauteed mushrooms creates a wonderfully rich, thick sauce that can then be spooned over your steak. I’ve also used cream of chicken soup to thicken the pan juices of my roasted fowl to great effect.
Spring vegetable soup mix has often provided me with a base for a much more substantial vegetable soup that’s suitable for vegetarians.
Of course, these days, they have almost become a meal in themselves, with packet soups morphing into noodle meals, the lines blurring between soup and snack.
My travelling larder is always stocked with these little flavour changers. And on a chilly night in camp, sometime between the pre-dinner nibbles and the evening feast, you’ll occasionally find me contemplating things with a warm cup of instant pleasure between my cold hands, reminding me of those early morning cuppas I used to have as a kid.
CHEESY BAKED CAULIFLOWER
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 packet of cream of chicken soup
- 1 cup reduced-fat milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Cook the cauliflower and place in an oven-proof dish.
Place the soup mix, milk and water into a saucepan and stir until boiling.
Pour over the cauliflower then sprinkle with combined breadcrumbs and cheese.
Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes.
FRENCH ONION STROGANOFF
- 1/2 cup salted butter, cubed
- 1.5kg trimmed and cubed round steak
- 4 cups fresh mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
- 5 or more cups of red wine
- 2 packets of French onion soup
- Coarse ground black pepper
- 2 bags of thick egg noodles
- 300ml sour cream
- 2-4 chopped spring onions (for garnish)
Melt butter in a large stew pot over medium heat. Add the meat and saute for about five minutes. Add the mushrooms and gently spoon into mixture. Pour in just enough wine to cover the meat and mushrooms and add the French onion soup.
Add a generous amount of black pepper. Stir and cover. Allow to cook on low until enough liquid has been absorbed and the mushrooms and meat are tender. The liquid must be like a thick sauce, but not runny.
In separate pot, boil the noodles until tender. Drain and put aside on a large serving dish.
Take the stroganoff off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Spoon it over noodles and garnish with the chopped spring onions.
I suggest serving this dish with a steamed green vegetable, such as green beans or asparagus.
BEEF AND MUSHROOM MACARONI CHEESE
- 750g uncooked macaroni
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 800g beef mince
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 packet of cream of mushroom soup
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, for the sauce
- 3 cups milk
- 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 20x30cm baking dish.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, one tablespoon of oil and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al-dente; drain.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large frypan. Saute onion and mushrooms until golden and add beef mince. Cook over medium heat until evenly brown. Stir in tomato paste, salt and pepper; simmer over low heat until heated through.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a deep saucepan; stir in the mushroom soup then milk. Cook over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens. Pour half of the sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir in the mozzarella cheese.
Spoon half of the macaroni into a prepared dish and top with the beef mince mixture. Spoon the remaining macaroni over the beef mince and top with the remaining white sauce.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Check out the full feature in issue #93 October 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.