A Childhood Favourite, Improved

Once I’d tasted the Paris Mushroom Soup from last week’s French Fridays With Dorie assignment, I realized that my previous experiences with canned mushroom soup had unfairly prejudiced me against all mushroom soups. Then, my thoughts turned to the one mushroom dish that I could tolerate when I was small, Tuna Rice Casserole. Though it was made with canned mushroom soup, I loved it. Which started me wondering how much better this casserole could be, if it were made with the leftovers of a really good mushroom soup.

I’d cooked a full recipe of the soup, thinking we’d have enough for two meals and another meal’s serving to freeze. Instead, I came up with this recipe:

Tuna Rice Casserole

4 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups grated aged Cheddar (I used Dubliner) mixed with ¼ cup grated parmesan
2 thinly sliced scallions (all but dark green parts)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 clove finely chopped garlic
2 cans tuna (in water), drained
2 cups homemade mushroom soup (I used Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Mushroom Soup)
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
1 teaspoon crumbled dried sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Set aside a ½ cup of the cheese. Butter an 8X8 baking dish.. Preheat the oven to 350 °.

Mix the scallions, parsley, garlic and tuna with the rice. Then, stir in 1½ cups of cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk the crème fraiche into the soup, then stir in the crumbled sage leaves. Stir the soup mixture into the rice mixture. Season with salt and pepper and give the mixture a final stir, then pour into the baking dish and smooth with a spatula. Top the casserole with the reserved cheese and bake for 30 minutes. If you like, you may run the casserole under the broiler for a minute or so to brown the cheese.

Variations: If I’d had more mushrooms on hand, I would have browned some more sage in butter, then sautéed a ½ cup of sliced mushrooms to add to the casserole. You could omit the scallions and sauté some finely chopped shallots with the mushrooms instead. You could also add bread crumbs (gluten-free or no) to the topping, if that’s your thing. Or you could use different herbs or cheeses. And of course, you could substitute another sort of dairy for the crème fraiche (or leave it out altogether).

It’s been at least a decade since I’ve had this dish, but I’m positive that this version is an improvement on the original. I suppose it’s ironic that I gave the Paris Mushroom Soup this treatment, since many people in the cooking group have been remarking what a healthful, low fat antidote the soup has been to all the excesses of December. But, I just had to make it. You could serve it with a salad, though, it pairs nicely.


6 thoughts on “A Childhood Favourite, Improved

  1. what is better than making something out of leftovers! This recipe reminded of the nightmarish cream of mushroom soup from childhood. Glad to see there is more than one survivor!

  2. Yes, I’m glad to see that convenience foods are falling out of favour! Though I’m sure they saved my mother’s sanity when we were small…

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