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Friday, November 10, 2023

Ode to the Green Bean Casserole by Bea Tifton

 Forgive the repost. Once again, I feel the need to extol my love for this seasonal food.

Recently, a company who looked at Google results compiled a list of each state’s favorite side dishes for Thanksgiving. Texas’ choice was the green bean casserole. Love it or hate it, given the number of places you’ll see green bean casserole this coming holiday, they weren’t far wrong.

Oh, the humble green bean casserole. That goopy mushroom soup. Those wonderfully healthy canned fried onions. Sigh. I love you so. And this is indeed your season to shine. 


 Many people associate green bean casserole with the 1970’s, but it was actually invented in the 1950’s.

Most popular food companies had recipe pamphlets that sold for a low price filled with ways to
use their products. Of course, Campbell’s Soup Company did the same, offering a stylish pamphlet replete with tips and recipes. Dorcas Reilly was a home economist who worked in the Campbell’s kitchen. She concocted the green bean casserole recipe in 1955, and she claimed in subsequent interviews that she didn’t actually remember how she came up with the recipe.

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup had been available since 1934, used as casserole filler in the Midwest so often that in Minnesota it was sometimes nicknamed, “Lutheran binder.”  Campbell’s estimates 40% of the Cream of Mushroom soup sold in the United States goes into making the modest green bean casserole. 

I took a very scientific poll regarding how people felt about GBC, i.e., I posted a question on my Facebook page and my friends generously answered. I got some great responses. 


Emma loves GBC so much that when Dorcas Reilly passed away at the age of 92, her father called her to tell her. I hope she  made a casserole in memoriam. Tony correctly identified GBC as comfort food. He even keeps the ingredients on hand and makes it year-round “in case the muse strikes.” Jeannie likes it but can’t eat it anymore. Moment of sympathy for Jeannie. Bummer. Miranda grew up in Wisconsin and ate it there. Texas may have put it on the map, but the indomitable GBC is popular throughout the country. Meagan and Sharon associate GBC with the past. Meagan says she "feels like it’s 1970 again” when she makes it and Sharon still likes GBC “perhaps mostly for nostalgia.” 

Not everyone’s a fan. Nina, a gentle, sweet person, was punished as a child for refusing to eat GBC and hurting her mom's, aunt's, Grandma's, and Mimi's feelings as a result. She still seems a little traumatized by it, so if you are invited to her house, take a soufflĂ© instead.  Sarah likes it but she’s “not crazy about it", and Greg would rather just have “real green beans.” Guess that’s a “No” to the canned fried onions. Donna is a native Texan who is so “over it.” Probably she’s eating at Nina’s for Thanksgiving then. 


Several of my enterprising friends put their own spin on GBC. Elizabeth puts green beans in onion soup mix. Karen has her own recipe with mushrooms and cheese mixed in. Zara adds cooked mushrooms. Wendy, the “designated green bean casserole-maker for her family” uses fresh mushrooms, sour cream, sautĂ©ed onions, and cheddar cheese. 

 And now, my two favorite stories.

When Diane first got married in 1959, someone gave the happy young couple an enamel casserole dish, all the required ingredients, and the recipe for green bean casserole. What a cool wedding gift!


My friend Sadie was an elementary school librarian. Ten years ago, a young student wanted recipes. She took him through the cookbook section, thinking he wanted sweets, but he wanted something that wasn’t in the kid focused cookbooks, green bean casserole. Sadie found the recipe in a magazine and took it to his modest home, along with the ingredients. She says that “he and his aunt made it for their family holidays. To him, it symbolized a good life.” 

Time to get out your ingredients. We're making Green Bean Casserole, ya'll.  This recipe is taken from the official Campbell's site.


  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions


Tips For the cooked green beans: Use 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) green beans, drained, about 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans or 16 to 20 ounces frozen green beans, thawed, for this recipe.

Step 1 Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.Step 2 Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling.  Stir the bean mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining onions. Step 3 Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes           Serves: 6          231 calories/serving

Happy Eating, Dear Reader, and Happy Thanksgiving

Photo Credits
Google Images "Green Bean Casserole"
Google Images "Dorcas Reilly"
Wikimedia Commons "Thanksgiving Dinner Table, Broward County, Florida, 1971"
Paula "Vegetable Mushrooms and Knife on Wooden Board"
RDNE Stockproject "A People Having Dinner Together"


  1. I've never used the soy sauce, but I think it would be a great addition. I've always loved the casserole, but I can't really say why. :-)

  2. We like GBC at our house, but my husband doesn't like mushrooms, so I use Cream of Celery soup instead. You can't tell the difference. I don't use the soy sauce, but I might give it a try this year. Thanks.


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