Classic baked rice casseroles sometimes contain a can of cream of mushroom soup, along with water or milk. The cream of mushroom soup melts with the liquid to create a flavorful sauce for the rice. However, using cream of mushroom soup without any added liquid is not recommended.
Cooking rice with just cream of mushroom soup -- especially on the stove top -- will likely lead to disappointing results. The soup simply doesn't contain enough liquid to soften the rice efficiently. The rice won't become tender and may even burn. Most types of rice -- including white and brown rice -- need a ratio of one part rice to two parts liquid to cook well. Wild rice needs a ratio of one part rice to three parts liquid. Water is the first ingredient in a can of cream of mushroom soup, but the soup also contains vegetable oil, wheat flour, modified food starch and other stabilizers and seasonings.
Rice made with cream of mushroom soup has a creamy taste and texture. If overcooked, it can burn to the bottom of the baking dish or become dry. Cooking it on the stove top is difficult because of the direct, intense heat. To cook rice on the stove top, your best option is to stick with water or broth as the liquid. This method produces a tender rice with a clean texture and taste. Use rice cooked on the stove top for stir-fries, curries and soups.
When cooking rice with cream of mushroom soup, substitute soup for two-thirds of the water called for in a recipe. To make this dish with brown or white rice, use one can of soup and one cup of water for every 3/4 cup of rice. Combine the rice with the soup and water, and pour into a covered shallow baking dish. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender. For a saucier, creamier rice, you can add a bit more water or soup.
Dress It Up
The basic recipe for baked rice casserole is simple, but you have numerous options for embellishing this quick, economical dish. Add cubes of seasoned chicken or even whole boneless chicken breasts. Stir in some sauteed onions or celery for extra flavor, or add chopped pecans or almonds. Substitute milk or cream for some of the water. Baked rice casseroles can sometimes taste bland. Add a bit of extra salt and pepper, as well as any desired seasonings, such as rosemary or thyme.
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