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I'm wondering how to parse the term "cream of chicken soup."

Should it be cream [of chicken soup] or [cream of chicken] soup? Either way, it doesn't seem to make sense.

I'd appreciate your help.

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  • I think of it like 'creamy [chicken soup]' – Smock Feb 28 '20 at 14:09
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It's ((cream (of chicken)) soup). It may help to visualize it as "cream-of-chicken soup" (with hyphens) although it is usually not actually written with hyphens. Such a soup is a cream soup, and the cream is made from (for example) chicken stock, milk, a thickening agent and seasoning.

Wikipedia lists many other "cream of X" soups; some of my personal favorites are:

  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Cream of asparagus soup
  • Cream of broccoli soup
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  • Cream of Tomato soup (Heinz) with ham/cheese/ham+cheese sandwiches is one of my favourites! – Smock Feb 28 '20 at 14:05
  • The cream is not made from chicken, in the case of cream of chicken soup. It is added externally. – Apollyon Feb 28 '20 at 15:00
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    @Apollyon I said chicken stock, not chicken... here's a recipe: allrecipes.com/recipe/211123/cream-of-chicken-soup-from-scratch – TypeIA Feb 28 '20 at 15:43
  • How about the cream in cream of broccoli soup? – Apollyon Feb 28 '20 at 15:48
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    @Apollyon Well, cream of broccoli soup can be made from milk, flour, broccoli and optional seasoning (onion, celery, etc.). The mixture is blended and cooked to reduce it to a thick creamy soup. "Cream" here refers to the thick, smooth consistency of the result. So all you need to make "cream of X soup" is a base ingredient that can be blended/boiled/cooked with some liquid (often milk) and a thickener (usually flour). Of course, most Americans buy "cream of X soup" in mass-produced cans at the supermarket. – TypeIA Feb 28 '20 at 15:54

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