Canned Cream Of Mushroom Soup Takes Pork Chops To Another Level

Busy weeknights sometimes mean meals get thrown together — perhaps some pork chops, a mashed potato, and some vegetables — so long as dinner is on the table, right? But probably more than once, the pork chop ends up disappointing, dry, and flavorless. But 20-minute weeknight recipes don't have to be disappointing, dry, and flavorless. The solution to this issue is a pantry staple: canned cream of mushroom soup.

Canned soups — especially cream of mushroom, cream of celery, and cream of chicken — can transform a meal, bringing it to another level while getting dinner on the table in record time. Pairing boneless pork chops and mushroom gravy is a classic combination, but using a can of cream of mushroom soup simplifies the meal — open a can of soup, grab some pork chops, and pop it all in the oven or a skillet, and the meal will be done in under 30 minutes. You didn't have to clean, chop, and sauté mushrooms, and you didn't have to make a roux and thicken it over low heat. 

Canned cream of mushroom soup is probably one of the most versatile items in your pantry. In addition to pork chops, it can eliminate steps in a variety of dishes, like stroganoff or a casserole, that usually require some sort of preparatory steps before you actually start cooking. This canned good comes in handy when you're too busy for all the fiddly stuff. 

How to level up convenient cooking

Recipes that use a can of soup as a quick dinner solution are economical and flavorful. You simply open a can of cream of mushroom soup, get some pork chops, put it all in a crockpot, and forget about it until dinner time — you'll have something edible but not amazing. But there are additional steps you can take to make sure it's the best it can be.

Start off by seasoning your pork chops with salt and pepper at least half an hour before you plan to cook. Searing your pork chops before putting them into the crock pot, skillet, or Dutch oven will impart some extra flavor from the Maillard reaction, which browns the food, making it taste and look better. Sautéing some garlic or onion, adding some aromatics like thyme or rosemary, and deglazing the pan with some chicken stock or white wine will also go a long way to making your convenient, quick meal taste like it's been cooking all afternoon. Adding a bag of frozen vegetables to the mix also saves you time.

Using canned cream of mushroom soup is not only easy, but it's a great shortcut for busy people. So, keep a can or two in stock for your next easy weeknight meal of pork chops.

Mistakes to avoid when using cream of mushroom

When using cream of mushroom soup with your pork chops, it's important to avoid several mistakes that can either potentially affect the quality of your dinner or ruin the meal. For one, you want to make sure that your cream of mushroom soup isn't too soupy. Otherwise, it won't properly coat your pork chops, leaving you with a sad excuse for a meal and soggy rather than smothered pork. If your soup is a bit on the runny side, then consider adding a bit of cream or yogurt to the mix. Either will help thicken the soup and give it an additional creamy texture as well. If you practice a vegan diet, then there are plenty of vegan brand yogurts to choose from as well. 

If you have added dairy to the mix, then you want to avoid boiling the soup as it will make the dairy curd as a result. This will significantly impact the quality of your dish. The last thing you want is pieces of curded milk mixed into your sauce. You should also consider the texture of your pork chops and be careful not to overcook them. Pork chops are incredibly lean pieces of meat, so it's easy for them to overcook and end up as hunks of leather. Keep in mind that pork chops continue to cook for a short period after being removed from a heating source. 

Make sure you select a good can of soup

While almost any brand of cream of mushroom soup will work for this recipe, each brand imparts its own flavors and seasonings. Go with the brand that's your favorite, but avoid mixing brands of soup as it may negatively impact the flavor of the dish. Likewise, you want to make sure that your can of cream of mushroom soup isn't expired. While soups like cream of mushroom may feel ageless, they have a shelf life of three to five years. However, quality may be impacted before then. That's also for soup that hasn't been opened, so any opened or fresh cream of mushroom soup has a significantly shorter expiration date. 

Before using cream of mushroom soup, check the can for both odor and color. If the aroma smells bad or off, then it's likely that the soup has gone bad. Additionally, check to make sure that the soup has the right color and consistency as well. Other tell-tale signs include bulging or rusted cans. If you suspect that your soup is a bit past its best-by date, then be on the safe side and toss it in the trash.