I’ve always considered cream of mushroom soup an ingredient moreso than a dish to eat. You know, for example, a standard component of grandma’s casseroles.
But done well, this is a luxurious soup to serve beside a salad or as a first course to a meal.
This is the third soup I’ve shared here, Pasta e Fagioli and Split Pea being the others. I’ve heard some people say they consider soups and stews mainly winter foods but I tend to make them year-round as the spirit moves me.
Let’s get this out of the way first. Here are the ingredients for the cream of mushroom soup we grew up with. I’m guessing (hoping?) they were different back then, but I don’t know that for sure.
Campbell’s® Classic Cream of Mushroom
INGREDIENTS: WATER, MUSHROOMS, VEGETABLE OIL (CORN, COTTONSEED, CANOLA, AND/OR SOYBEAN), MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, WHEAT FLOUR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: SALT, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, DEHYDRATED CREAM (CREAM [MILK], SOY LECITHIN), YEAST EXTRACT, FLAVORING, DEHYDRATED GARLIC.
There are a couple of canned (or boxed, as is the case nowadays) organic brands available but this is so easy to make. I had to write down the recipe as I went, measuring along the way, because this is one of those technique-over-recipe items. Once you learn how-to, you can apply it to any number of cream-of-some-vegetable soups.
As I was saying, we were surprised as we essentially rediscovered this soup not only as an ingredient for another dish — which is how this all started — but as a dinner soup that I can’t even begin to tell you how much we enjoyed.
I wanted to use a mix of organic white button mushrooms and cremini / baby bella mushrooms but that meant buying a full pound (half a pound of each) which was twice what I needed. I figured I’d make a risotto or maybe just slice the rest into a salad or somesuch.
So I made the first batch of soup and as I tasted it along the way (please, taste your food as you cook), I was struck by how good it was. I quickly grabbed a tasting spoon for my wife who looked at it suspiciously but nonetheless she gave it a whirl and said, “whoa, that’s really good.” Which was my motivation for serving the second batch the next day at dinner.
Give your mushrooms a quick look over for dirt and wipe them off as needed. If you want, just wash them quickly in a colander. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to wash mushrooms, but we’re going to use them right away and it’s a soup for goodness sake. It’ll be okay.
Rough chop the mushrooms and dice some onion. Melt a knob of butter in your soup pot (that’s about 2-3 tablespoons, roughly a cube from the end of a stick) and toss in the onions, mushrooms, and a teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium-high heat until they’re nice and tender — about 7-10 minutes. If you don’t have a soup pot, your dutch oven or pasta pot should work just fine.
In a bowl, whisk the flour into a cup of the stock and then gradually add this to the soup pot stirring until it’s blended in. (We’re making this slurry so the flour — which we’re using to help thicken the soup — doesn’t just cook into dumpling-like lumps of yuck when you try to add it to the pot.)
Then gradually add the rest of the stock, still stirring, until it’s all in. It’s supposed to be somewhat thick, given the flour and butter, like a gravy almost.
Let that come to a boil and then add the dairy the same way, gradually and stirring.
Once that comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook out for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. The idea is to get the flour to not taste so much like flour (again, like when you cook gravy) and let it thicken until it’s creamy.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Cream of mushroom soup is a not just for casseroles! (Though it is great for that too.) It is also a luxurious soup served beside a salad or as a first course. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, rough chopped I like to use half organic white buttons and half organic cremini / baby bellas.
- 1/3 cup onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
- 1 cup half-and-half See notes.
- sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Clean and rough chop the mushrooms and dice the onion.
Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the mushrooms and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until tender - about 7-10 minutes.
Whisk the flour into a bowl with a cup of the stock until it's completely dissolved.
Add the flour and stock mixture to the soup pot, stir well, and let it cook for a few minutes.
Gradually and slowly stir in the remaining stock, stirring as you do.
Bring to a boil.
Gradually stir in the dairy.
Return to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season-to-taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. (Start with 1 teaspoon of each and add more as desired.)
I use half-and-half when I can but I'll confess I rarely have it on-hand in the refrigerator. You can substitute 1/2 cup of whole milk + 1/2 cup of light cream (though I rarely even see light cream in the store) - or - 3/4 cup of whole milk + 1/4 cup of heavy cream (which is what I will usually do).
It’s hard to see in the picture but I topped mine with a few shavings of gruyere and parmesan cheeses. I could have garnished with some parsley, I suppose, but we were hungry and it smelled so good.
It might be time to retry cream of celery soup. Hmmm….