What is the history of green bean casserole?
Yes, green bean casserole is an institution in the United States. This easy to make recipe was indeed born in the 50s.
At the time, major brands such as General Mills or Cuisinart competed to develop recipes with their flagship products. Most of these brands had indeed entire departments and kitchens devoted to create and test these recipes. These recipes were often printed in booklets and distributed by these brands. These recipe pamphlets were easy to access and use, and certainly less expensive (often free) than large traditional cookery books.
It is in this context that the green bean casserole was born. Dorcas Reilly, who was part of the Home Economics Department of the Campbell Soup Company has been at the origin of this must-attend recipe for Thanksgiving tables but also other parties. Home Economics? Yes, it could be translated by the science of family and consumer science that studies the behavior of the family within the community.
The inspiration for this recipe was to create a dish that any housewife could reproduce with ingredients she had at hand: green beans, milk and… Campbell’s cream of mushroom cans of course!
Campbell was founded in 1869 by Joseph Campbell, fruit merchant from New Jersey and Abraham Anderson, who left the company a few years later (his great grandchildren are probably cursing him right now). The logo almost hasn’t changed in over a century and still shows the medal of the Paris World Exhibition in 1900, now translated into English.
Since the middle of last century, the company has been one of the largest consumer product company in the world. The brand has also become an icon of mass production and consumption and began to enjoy international recognition thanks to the creations of our friend Andy Warhol… who featured cans of Campbells’ tomato soup in his art.
This recipe is more about putting things together than actually cooking. It also allows housewives (including myself) to prepare this dish ahead of time (the day before or on Thanksgiving morning) and warm it at the last minute.
How to make green bean casserole
The original recipe that has been printed on cans of “Cream of Mushroom” since the 1950s, included only five ingredients. Soy sauce, which is not really part of American pantries at the time was not added until many years later. Campbell estimates that 40% of cans of cream of mushroom are used to make this green bean casserole!
The original recipe calls for frozen green beans, but you can also use fresh beans like I did. This was my only tweak to this 100% American recipe that is, I must be confess (and against all odds), excellent… although still an insult to haute cuisine. Anyway, my children who only have US citizenship, all begged me to make this recipe, as well as sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie. What wouldn’t we do to please them!
- 2 (10¾ oz.) cans Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or Campbell’s® Condensed 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 cups fresh green beans
- 2⅔ cups French's® French Fried Onions
- Boil fresh green beans for 10 minutes.
- Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 1⅓ cup onions in a 3-quart casserole.
- Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling.
- Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
- Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.