The canned-soup-with-stuff casserole in general became an American classic in the early part of the twentieth century, thanks to the recipes created and publicized by the Campbell Soup Company. In 1955 Campbell hit the jackpot—creating the most popular casserole of all time, the classic Green Bean Bake, made with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup and topped with fried onions from a can. Things don't become classics because they're bad—and the combination of ingredients in this dish is really quite delicious. That's not to say that a tweak or two can't improve it. Try the following version with fresh-fried shallots and dried tarragon thrown into the mix. It's irresistible! This version respects the fifties taste but is so much brighter and more layered in flavor. The soy sauce, by the way, was part of the original recipe.
- 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 6 large shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 pound button mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
- 1 can Campbell's cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and boil for 3 minutes. Drain beans and immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well, and set beans aside in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
3. In a large saucepan, bring 2 inches of vegetable oil to 365 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Place shallots in the bowl and, using your hands, dredge lightly in the flour mixture. Tap off the excess flour and place half the shallots in the oil. Fry until golden and crispy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels; season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining shallots.
4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and cook without stirring until browned, about 2 minutes. Add mushroom soup, milk, water, lemon juice, soy sauce, and tarragon to skillet and whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a simmer, pour over green beans, and stir to combine. Add half the shallots and stir again. Bake until sauce bubbles, about 30 minutes. Top evenly with remaining shallots and bake 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.