Real Food Green Bean Casserole

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So, what are the essential parts of any green bean casserole?

The green beans, the cream of mushroom soup, and the french-fried onions, right?

This beloved casserole has earned a place of honor on our Thanksgiving table each year, but up until a few years ago, it consisted of opening cans of green beans, opening cans of soup, and yup – opening a can of french-fried onions to whip up and bake to perfection.

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But as my family has been on our whole foods journey in the last few years, Green Bean Casserole put me in a conundrum – what to do with our beloved favorite?

Well, as long-time readers of this site know, I have a love of reverse engineering, so as I was writing my cookbook – The DIY Pantry – I made sure there were solidly good recipes for all of the above-mentioned convenience foods so that my family and yours could once again indulge in this classic holiday side dish.

So let's take a quick look at each of the ingredients so you can pull this together in a jiffy:

The Green Beans

Beans are pretty straightforward – simply use your favorites! Whether you have fresh beans available, frozen beans, or choose to use canned, french-style beans, use whatever green beans you love.

The only caveats I have are that fresh and frozen beans will need to be boiled or steamed first so that they don't release their water into the casserole (rendering it more watery than you may desire) and if you use canned beans, try – if possible – to use a brand that uses a BPA-free lining or packs their beans in glass.

The Cream of Mushroom Soup

The cream of mushroom soup is, admittedly, the reason we make a homemade version of green bean casserole, as most store-bought cream of mushroom soups contain a long list of additives and preservatives that make it anything but nourishing.

And thankfully, a thick, condensed, homemade cream of mushroom soup isn't difficult to make, although you have to decide whether you want a quick version or a more-like-store-bought version, which uses evaporated milk.

Now, if you're up for a (simple) adventure, you'll want to make the evaporated milk, but a word to the wise – making homemade evaporated milk takes a while. (You can see the recipe and all the details here.)

If you want a much quicker version (like I do 99% of the time I make this), feel free to use canned evaporated milk OR simply substitute in one part cream to three parts milk when making the cream of mushroom soup. It's not perfect, but is still gorgeously yummy, so I find it a worthwhile substitution to save the time.

So, to sum up, the cream of mushroom soup itself is quick to make, but decide ahead whether you're going to make homemade evaporated milk, purchase evaporated milk, or use a cream-and-milk substitute.

See the recipe right here: Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
For a lovely store-bought option: Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup

The French Fried Onions

The crowning glory of green bean casserole is the fried onions. When I originally wrote this back in 2013, store-bought french-fried onions without hydrogenated oils and preservatives were few and far between. Now, they're much easier to find, so they're a decidedly decent option.

However, making homemade ones isn't difficult – they just take a bit of time. They're also delectable for snacking and super-inexpensive, so if you've got the time, I recommend making a double batch. 🙂

See the recipe here: Homemade French Fried Onions
For a scrumptious store-bought version, try these French Fried Crispy Onions

Happy cooking!

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Real Food Green Bean Casserole

A green bean casserole made entirely from real food that tastes just like – and yet even BETTER – than "traditional" green bean casserole. Your new Thanksgiving stand-by!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 as a side

Ingredients

For the casserole

  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen green beans, snapped into 2-inch pieces
  • a dash of traditionally-fermented soy sauce
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • teaspoon black pepper

For the cream of mushroom soup

  • ½ of an onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups evaporated milk OR ½ cup heavy cream and 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley, optional
  • 16-20 large mushrooms, any variety, coarsely chopped

For the topping

  • 2 cups French fried onions, (see link to homemade recipe below or see notes below)

Instructions

  • Make the soup base. First, prepare the cream of mushroom soup. Place all ingredients except for the mushrooms in a blender and combine until the mixture is fairly smooth. Add the mushrooms and pulse until well blended but still a bit chunky. Pour the entire mixture into a large saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until thickened, 6–7 minutes, whisking often.
  • Prepare the ovens and pans. Preheat the oven to 350°F. See a 9" x 13" casserole dish at the ready.
  • Cook the beans, if necessary. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the beans. Cook until tender but still bright green, 4-6 minutes. Drain well.
  • Mix all ingredients. Place the beans in a large bowl and add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and the cream of mushroom soup. Mix well. Scrape into the prepared casserole dish.
  • Bake the casserole. Bake until bubbly, 15-25 minutes. Add the French fried onions on top and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the onions are crispy and golden. Serve hot.

Notes

Prefer canned beans?

You may substitute canned beans for the fresh green beans for a more “traditional” flavor, if desired. Use (3) 14-oz cans and drain well. No need to cook canned beans before combining them with the other ingredients.

About French-Fried Onions:

The crowning glory of green bean casserole is the fried onions. When I originally published this recipe back in 2013, store-bought french-fried onions without hydrogenated oils and preservatives were few and far between. Now, they're much easier to find, so store-bought French Fried onions can now be a decidedly decent option.
However, making homemade ones isn't difficult – they just take a bit of time. They're also delectable for snacking and super-inexpensive, so if you've got the time, I recommend making a double batch. Click here to see the recipe for French Fried onions or visit https://nourishingjoy.com/homemade-french-fried-onions/

How to DIY other parts of this recipe:

See how to make your own homemade cream of mushroom soup to save for later at https://nourishingjoy.com/homemade-condensed-cream-of-mushroom-soup/
See how to make your own Worcestershire sauce in my book, The DIY Pantry.
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9 Comments

  1. I love the convenience of the easy to use Yum print account on your blog. I had never used it before now and like it a lot.

    1. Yes, you can use whatever milk substitute you would like, the higher the fat content the better (low-fat milks such as rice milk don’t tend to cream well in the soup). Soy would perform quite well, I would imagine, but I would strongly recommend against using it, which is due merely to the dangers of soy rather than how it would function in the recipe. Here’s one good article on soy: http://www.foodrenegade.com/dangers-of-soy/

      Enjoy! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. 🙂

  2. Sorry could not find the link to download the free cook book. I would greatly appreciate if you could send/ direct me to it.

    Thanks
    Eran

    1. The link should be in your confirmation e-mail once you have signed up for our newsletter updates.

      If you don’t see it there, contact us via the Contact Us link in the “About” tab at the top of every page and we’ll make sure you get a copy! 🙂

      Have a great day.

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