A Campbell Cookbook Most-For-The-Money Main Dishes, by the Home Economists Of Campbell Kitchens
I found this book to be a surprisingly enjoyable read, despite the fact that its recipes were not necessarily to my liking in many cases. There is something endearingly funny about a book that is so transparent in its agenda to the support the increased sales of Campbell’s soups that every recipe in the book contains at least one can of the company’s soups and some of the recipes only consist of different cans of soup mixed together into something else. This is not a great book from a culinary perspective, it must be admitted, but there is a lot about this book that is genuinely humorous. This may not be the sort of book you would want to use a lot of recipes from under most circumstances–more on that later, though–but it is a book that can help one to see the use of soups as a starter for other dishes, and that is a worthwhile enough to make this worth a modest amount of space in many kitchens. Anything that is good for a laugh, even if unintentionally so, is worth reading on at least some level.
This book is a bit more than 100 pages long and it is divided into several chapters that utilize Campbell’s Soup as a dinner-making strategy. The book begins with a nutrition primer that tries to justify these soups as being useful. After that the book begins sensibly with a discussion of casseroles and their complements, which is an obvious use of soup in recipes. After that there are some stove-top recipes for use in the skillet, which also makes sense. This is followed by dishes that are meatless, although not vegan–only lacking red meat. After this there are some pot luck choices which are going to be pretty popular in some circles, I would imagine. This is then followed by a set of charts that combine various soups together in larger collections. The last two chapters include materials for cooking big as well as various other dishes, which include extras including a cheesecake pie, all of which include a soup by the publishers in the menu, and most of which include onions, for some reason. Then the book tries to explain the metric system to the reader, as well as providing tables, household hints, and an index.
Despite the fact that much of this book was hilarious to me in terms of its recommendations for what soups to put in dishes, including some dishes that you might not immediately think of as being suitable (such as viewing soups as the formation for desserts), not all of this book hit the same notes of humor. One of the more poignant aspects of this book, at least for me personally, was the way it appeared that this book (or at least some intuitive guesses on the part of my mother) informed a great deal of the cooking that I had as a child. As someone who grew up on tuna noodle casserole and beef stroganoff based off of soups, it would not have surprised me if my mother snagged some recipes out of a book like this to make a narrow food budget go a little further than expected. And that seems like something that this book might have done in a great many families aside from my own. For some people this book will hit a bit too close to home to be funny, which is a great shame because this book is better for comedy than it is for actual use, except for a few recipes which do look quite tasty.