Thursday, January 19, 2012

Remember French Dressing? My version will have you loving it again!

Remember French Dressing? That nuclear orange concoction that came in a bottle from the salad dressing isle in the super market or was served up from the salad bar dressing cans on the Ponderosa Steak House Buffet or Ruby Tuesday salad bar?? Yes, we are talking wishbone freaking french dressing! Picante with a creamy texture and flavor smothering presence on the plate. Used by adults to cover up or enhance the flavor of their salad greens and toppings, kind of like kids use ketchup to cover up the flavor of liver and onions?? Do any parents still make their kids eat liver and onions? Or is that like white bread and processed meats these days in a world of localvoires and foodie snobs?

Anyway......( for you Melissa if you are reading this) French Dressing has a kinda nostalgic feel to it. I mean these days it has certainly been edged out by balsamic vinagrette and fancy dressings with nut oils and fresh herbs. But for a lot of us french dressing conjours up memories of school lunch lines and church covered dish suppers or maybe the college dining hall.

My Mother and Grandmother were never fans of bottled dressings. For one thing they were expensive and for another they had a lot of unpronounceable additives in them. So like the mothers of today worrying about little Jane and Johnny injesting too many chemicals, the cooks in my childhood home made much from scratch and that included salad dressings. We had a family salad dressing that we called the "Hedden House Dressing" It was orange and it was creamy but it had only a few ingredients and it was good enough to eat at many mealtimes for about 20 years going. I mean from the time I was  a little boy we had it in our rotation of salad dressings. We had a tossed salad at every meal where it was appropriate and even sometimes when it had nothing to do with the meal. That was my Mother's way of keeping us eating something green and raw and healthy everyday. I continued this trend in my own life and still make a salad with dinner or some kind of fresh vegetable when I can or deem it appropriate!

I went through a phase where I bought bottled dressings from the refrigerator case in the supermarket, that was until I decided that like the women cooks in my childhood home I could make better and more varied dressing than I could buy. So I have a number of really good dressing recipes in my arsenal. From Green Goddess to my Grandmother's ranch dressing ( which people go crazy for), to a killer vinagrette to the original "Hedden House Dressing". I think that it is that dressing which is most unique. It was originally from some newspaper recipe my Grandmother found while living in Florida in the 1960's and it was actually a recipe for "French Dressing" But my My Mother and Grandma tinkered with it over the years and it came out to be the dressing we had around in the fridge all the time.

So like cooks in my childhood I too have played around with it. ( So that's where it came from! thanks Grandma!)  It had one ingredient which is really surprising and I think is sort of amusing at that. Condensed tomato soup! Yes! Campbells frickin soup! But it is the ingredient which really brings it all together. So next time you want to try a new spin on a tired old favorite dressing give this a try I think you will like it!!

Irene's French Dressing AKA. ( Hedden House Dressing) btw. Irene was my Grandmother!


1/4 cup white onion finely diced
4 tablespoons Chili Sauce ( Heinz)
2 tablespoons Ketchup ( Heinz)
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons Apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Mustard powder
3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice from concentrate ( yes really)
1 cup condensed campbells old fashions not fancy full sodium soup
2 tablespoons Mayonaise
1/2 cup corn oil. ( yes corn oil!! OK it can be any neutral oil but not olive oil as it had a strong flavor)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
water if it needs thinning


Place all ingredients in a blender except the oil.
Run to combine pulsing till smooth.
Then with the motor running slowly pour the oil into the blender through the hole in the top.
Check for seasoning.
Add water a tablespoon at a time if too thick till creamy and orange and good!!!

Enjoy with your favorite salad greens and toppings!!! YUM! Ya'll!


  1. Hi - your recipe sounds intriguing and I would like to try it, but you don't say what type of soup to use. I hope you read this and can let me know! Thanks

  2. Hi Nancy yes it's just a can of campbell's regular condensed Tomato soup. Let me know if you try it and how it comes out for you. Thanks for stopping by.