Aunt Dorothy’s Chicken Supreme

There was a lull in customers at the meat counter, so the butcher and I chatted for a minute. Since he had some gray in his hair, I felt a certain kinship with him and risked asking whether his mother had made dishes with cream of mushroom soup poured over meat and various other ingredients. When he said she had, I asked him if he liked the results.

“What’s not to like?” was his response. His eyes glazed a little, like mine do when I think of green bean casserole. If you grew up in the 1950’s or 60’s, you almost certainly ate Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup at least once a week.

Introduced by the Campbell Soup Company in 1934, cream of mushroom soup was featured in the company’s first full length cookbook, Easy Ways to Good Meals, in 1941. You may have thought that you were eating Tuna Noodle Casserole, African Chow Mein, Oregon Hot Dish, Chicken Crunch or Mixed Vegetable Hot Dish, but they all were made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup or a store brand substitute.

That soup was ubiquitous and not just in a bowl in front of you. There was green bean casserole, of course, and on Sundays you might have had Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy or dishes like Grandma Hopp’s Meatloaf. All have cream of mushroom soup as a major ingredient.

I have been smothering pork chops with cream of mushroom soup since I was old enough to use a can opener, but I had never tried that technique with chicken until I finally decided to make Aunt Dorothy’s Chicken Supreme. The recipe she sent me was designed for a larger gathering than we usually have at our home, so I reduced the quantities significantly.

Despite my foresight, Jerri packaged enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow and put three tender and tasty pieces of chicken in the freezer for dinner at a date to be announced. Aunt Dorothy’s recipes are made to feed a battalion. There is a reason.

Aunt Dorothy gathering 2016

When we received the invitation to her 90th birthday celebration, this photo on the back of the card showed the family members who showed up last year to observe her 89th birthday. There were more for her 90th. Word is, Aunt Dorothy has sixty-six direct descendants. We should all have so many people watching out for us.

You don’t need a big family to justify this recipe. Invite some friends for Sunday dinner or plan on having leftovers.


3 lbs. chicken pieces
1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/3 – 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
3 T butter
1/3 cup water
2 cans cream of mushroom soup


Rinse the chicken under cold water and allow it to drain while you prepare the flour. Mix the flour with the paprika, salt and pepper in a paper bag. Preheat the oven to 400º and melt the butter in a small pan or microwavable dish.

Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and dust them a few at a time in the bag. Put the pieces skin side down in a single layer in a nine by thirteen-inch baking dish or pan. Dribble the melted butter over the chicken.

Bake on the center shelf of the oven for twenty minutes, then turn the pieces and return the pan to the oven to bake for another twenty minutes.

Mix a third cup of water with the mushroom soup in a bowl until you have a smooth batter. Spoon the thinned soup equally over the chicken in the pan and return it to the oven. Bake for another twenty to thirty minutes until the chicken is tender.

Serve with a green vegetable, boiled potatoes and salad.

NOTES: Aunt Dorothy noted that her recipe which called for five pounds of chicken and three cans of mushroom soup made “ten good servings.” “Good,” I think, means large, though it may also mean servings suitable for active teenagers.

I wondered how the dish would look as it came from the oven. Perhaps I should have thinned the soup a bit more, but the chicken lChicken Supreme from the ovenooked so inviting in the baking dish that I would not be ashamed to set it on the table in front of guests.

A note on salt. We usually cook with unsalted butter, so I used a half teaspoon of salt. If you use salted butter, you should reduce the salt to a third of a teaspoon. Remember, diners can always add a little salt if they wish, but salt is very difficult to remove from a dish when it has been cooked.

Italian Vegetable Soup

Like most people Jerri and I enjoy a good soup, so I make quite a few of them. Recently, while I was chopping vegetables for the pot I began thinking about the word “soup.” Our word comes most directly into English from the French word “soupe,” which comes from the Latin word “suppa,” but the word is ultimately from Indo-European, which explains why the Germans, Norwegians and Danes make “Suppe,” the Swedes, “soppa,” while the Spanish and Portuguese make “sopa.” All these words can be traced back to the same ancient root.

For nearly as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by language. When I was a freshman in high school I joined the forensics club and eventually decided to compete in the original oratory category. Most students who chose this category wrote speeches about current events or problems. I decided to compose an oration about the English language.

With the help of Mrs. Wyant, my forensics coach, I did move on from the district level, but I didn’t win at the University of Wisconsin which hosted the state forensics competition. The most valuable comment I received from the judge was his observation that my hands turned purple. I remember that he suggested, “You might try moving them around.” I learned to relax and gesture occasionally while speaking.

Making soup is another way to keep your hands from turning purple, since soups almost always require chopping vegetables or meat. Most soups need to be stirred as well, which also keeps your hands moving.

You have to do a little chopping for this soup but it is quick and easy to make. You’ll be done in less than an hour, and the result is both nutritious and delicious.


1 cup chopped onion
1/2 – 3/4 cup diced carrots
1/2 – 3/4 cup diced celery
1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped zucchini
1 T olive oil
1 quart chicken broth
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. salt
Generous grind of fresh black pepper
1 tsp. water
2 – 3 Roma tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans (about two cups)
2 – 3 cups kale
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Clean and chop the onion into a quarter-inch dice and the carrots and celery into a half-inch dice. Remove the paper from the garlic and mince it. Wash and remove the stem and blossom scar from the zucchini, divide it into quarters lengthwise, then chop it into quarter inch slices.

Put a tablespoon of olive oil into a three quart saucepan over moderate heat and add the vegetables, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Stir for about two minutes to coat the vegetables with oil , then add a teaspoon of water, reduce the heat and cover the pan to steam the vegetables for six or seven minutes until they are tender.

Add the chicken broth and increase the heat. While the broth and vegetables are coming to a boil, wash and remove the stem scars from the tomatoes and chop them into a quarter-inch dice. Drain the beans, put half of them into a small bowl and mash them. Wash the kale and discard the large central ribs from the leaves. Roll three or four leaves at a time into bundles and cut the rolls into three-quarter-inch wide strips. Set the kale aside to add later.

Stir the tomatoes and beans into the cooked vegetables and bring the soup back to a boil. Cook for about two minutes. Stir the kale into the soup and cook for another two minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve with bread and offer grated Parmesan cheese as a garnish.

NOTES: There are several varieties of kale. Use any of them, including the decorative plants you might be able to steal from your spouse’s ornamental garden. You can also substitute baby spinach for the kale.