There is a dirty little secret in my culinary closet: when I am feeling vulnerable or lazy, I will sometimes revert to my childhood table for comfort. Growing up, we were four hungry kids in the sticks, with a massive vegetable garden and a mother who didn't like driving, especially on the ice, with the four of us squalling in the backseat.
So there were several meals that relied on Campbells Soup: as a flavoring, a binder, a stretcher, whatever. Though all four of us now prefer much loftier stuff in public, we'll all swoon for tater tot casserole in a heartbeat. (I'm the family deviant because I make mine with cream of celery and ground chicken.)
Now that I'm grownup with fancy schmancy All-Clad pans and a penchant for anything produced by Ina Garten, I only unfurl the red and white cans a few times a year. A recent craving for Cracker Barrel hashbrown casserole called for a can of cream of chicken soup; and the last time I made Alpo (sorry, mom, it's not beef-and-rice to us), I woke up with a pounding ax in my head at 4 am. Imagine your worst migraine, and then triple it.
The agony couldn't be softened with drugs or sleep, so I sat there wondering just what I'd done to deserve it. My migraines all but disappeared when I whacked paprika out of my diet, but there I was, flashing lights, aura, and agony, and it hit me: Campbells Soup.
Sure enough, when I checked the labels: MSG. Even in the healthy versions. What the hell is wrong with these people? Whose idea was it to lace perfectly mediocre canned soup with chemical flavor enhancers? Why salt the salt?
I guess it's roasted veggies and healthy bits for me from now on.