This Thanksgiving, an estimated 20 million Americans will have Reilly’s dish on their tables. Green bean casserole is a simple recipe based on only a couple of ingredients: green beans and Campbell’s condensed cream of mushroom soup. The recipe has appeared on the label of the cream of mushroom soup for over 65 years.
Sadly, the inventor of the iconic side, Dorcus Reilly, passed away in October at the age of 92. She had been living in Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, NJ, with Alzheimer’s disease.
But back in 1955, Reilly forever changed the Thanksgiving menu when she developed a new savory side dish using ingredients she believed most Americans kept in the cupboard. In the original recipe, green beans and cream of mushroom soup got a little help from some milk, black pepper, soy sauce and a crunchy French-fried onion topping to become a staple of the holiday table.
Before her retirement, Mrs. Reilly was a supervisor in the Campbell’s Soup test kitchen, where she created hundreds of recipes using Campbell soups. Many of her recipes were selected to appear on the soup can label, including tuna noodle casserole and tomato soup meatloaf. She also developed the “Souperburger,” a variation on the Sloppy Joe made from condensed tomato soup.
But none of her recipes proved as much a family favorite as the green bean casserole. The recipe is on display at the National Inventor Hall of Fame, along with Thomas Edison’s light bulb.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dorcas Reilly, the creator of one of the most beloved American recipes, the Green Bean Casserole,” a spokesman for Campbell’s Soup said. “Dorcas was an incredible woman whose legacy will live on for years to come. She will be missed by her Campbell colleagues and all those who were impacted by her creativity and generous spirit.”
Mrs. Reilly is survived by her husband, Thomas H. Reilly, son, Thomas B. Reilly and daughter, Dorcas R. Tarbell; four grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; and nieces and nephews.