The Origin Of Cream Of Mushroom Soup

It has been immortalized as a work of art by artist Andy Warhol and is considered an essential ingredient for a range of casseroles and bakes including one-pot beef stroganoff, tuna casserole, and the classic green bean casserole. Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom is present as an ingredient in so many dishes across the country that one writer even called it "America's béchamel," according to Houston Press. The idea of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom as a convenient ingredient is also proposed by cookbook author Andrew Schloss in his book "Almost from Scratch." 

He lists the thickened soup, along with items like dehydrated onions, and French dressing as easy ingredients, which have the potential to be used as base ingredients for more sophisticated dishes. Schloss further proposes that these pre-packaged grocery items allow the home cook to elevate his or her cooking in less time because the prep has already been done for them. But we're certain none of this was going through Dr. John T. Dorrance's mind when he first created condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup in the early 20th century.

Dorrance's invention changed the face of soup

While the Anderson and Campbell soup company was first established in 1869, it wasn't until several decades later, in 1897, that Dorrance invented the process for making condensed soup. It would take a further 30 years after that time when Dorrance would invent other canned soups like Noodle with Chicken, as well as Cream of Mushroom soups, per Campbell's. The recipes would appear to be the last ones Dorrance would come up with, since Campbell opened its test kitchens less than 10 years after that, in 1941.

However, Dorrance had innovated a dish that has existed for tens of thousands of years. According to Soup Maker Guide, soups have been around since the idea of cooking over fire has been, with pottery from 20,000 B.C. showing signs that it had been a vessel for a liquid made with boiled bones and fats. Fast forward to the 10th century, and soup was being made by throwing random ingredients into a pot and then boiling that, turning ingredients into a meal that could be consumed by everyone because it was easy to digest. Soup Maker Guide also says that for centuries, whatever went into the dish was usually determined by what was in season at the time the soup was made. It was Dorrance's idea of making canned soup that eventually made the dish easy to transport.