When most people hear “Cream of Mushroom Soup,” they grimace. They picture the congealed, canned kind that comes out in a can shape, still sporting the rings on the sides. But I want you to forget all of that. Erase icky, canned nightmares and picture a perfect, mellow mushroom. I telly you what . . . It’s hard not to love a good mushroom. Their flavor is the perfect accompaniment to everything from chicken marsala to a delicate, tender beef roast.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3-4 cups sliced mushrooms (I use 3-4 of those little blue plastic containers of white mushrooms, depending on how “mushroomy” I want the soup to be)
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
5 tsp. powdered beef bouillon
2 tsp. powdered chicken bouillon
1 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme)
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup cornstarch, mixed with enough water to make a milky fluid
Sauté onions and mushrooms in butter until onions are soft and mushrooms have given off their juice and become soft. Deglaze pan with sherry and allow alcohol to evaporate. Add in salt, pepper, bouillon, thyme, milk, and cream. Allow mixture to heat back up until hot, but not boiling, and add cornstarch/water mixture all at once. Stir soup until it thickens. Serve immediately.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
This recipe is really pretty easy. And, like many good recipes out there . . . it starts with butter!!!! Put your butter or margarine in the bottom of a medium Dutch Oven. A WHAAAA??? What the heck is a Dutch Oven, and why do I need one? A Dutch Oven is a big, cast iron stewpot that LIVES to braise, broil, and caramelize the heck out of whatever you put into it. My absolute favorite is this gorgeous beauty from Le Creuset, here
. Of course, you don’t HAVE to have a cast iron pot, but if you try it once, you’ll never go back. And these beauties last a lifetime, so I find that they are well worth the investment. I used to go through a set of pots and pans about once a year, so instead of buying cheapies constantly and wearing them out, I splurged for good quality cookware that I will never have to replace, because it has a lifetime guarantee. Use this beauty to start your butter melting. There is something so comforting about a big, heavy pot bubbling happily away on the back of the stove on a cold day.
Now . . . some fun guys! I mean fungis. Fungi? Whatever. Get the mushrooms out. I am using white mushrooms, but you can use any kind of mushrooms that you like . . . except poisonous ones, of course. No, you may not use poisonous mushrooms, even if this is for your evil uncle Newt. I’m sorry. That’s the rule.
Slice up roughly 3-4 cups of mushrooms. I use 3-4 of the little blue plastic containers that you get mushrooms in at the grocery store. It really depends how “mushroomy” you want your soup to be– every bite full of them, or just a few floating around in a silky broth? You can use fewer mushrooms, too, if you want. This recipe is kind of like your Mom . . . sweet and very forgiving. It’s hard to mess up. Add your chopped onion and mushrooms to the melted butter and get ready for your kitchen to smell UHHHHHmazing.
Stir everything around in there and help everyone get nice and cozy and acquainted. Keep stirring and don’t rush. The best things take time. And we want to coax out the flavors that make this soup so incredible.
Allow the vegetables to cook down, a little bit. The onions should be kind of “see through” and tender, and the mushrooms will turn a nice, golden brown and give up some of their liquid. Mmmm. Your kitchen will smell incredible during this whole process, by the way. You’d better come up with some excuses to give the neighbors who come calling for a cup of sugar, because they will be drifting over with random excuses when they smell the amazing scents wafting from your kitchen.
Once your onions and mushrooms are nice and cooked down, go ahead and add in your cooking sherry. Adding sherry to a dish adds something almost indescribable to it. You know the feeling that you get when you come in after being freezing cold all day, and the house is nice and warm? Maybe someone hands you a mug of hot cocoa and a blanket and says “Here. Come sit down and relax. Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel”? Yeah. Sherry adds THAT to your soups. The taste is hard to describe, but once you taste it, you’ll be adding sherry to everything “warm and cozy” that you make. And don’t worry about serving this soup to kids, because all the alcohol will evaporate out, leaving nothing but the coziest of soups and stews behind. 🙂
Now, let’s add the milk and . . . cream. Ohhhh yes. Break out the big guns. Heavy cream really takes this soup over the top . . . from delicious . . . to divine. As you pour in the cream, you can (shhh . . .) almost hear the angels sing . . .
Now, add your spices and fresh thyme. I had a lot of thyme growing in my herb garden, so I’ve been rediscovering new ways to use it. It’s surprisingly versatile and can really add some great flavor to almost any dish. If you don’t have fresh thyme (Do you have . . . the thyme?), then 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme will work just fine. If you don’t have dried thyme, then leave it out. No biggie. This soup reminds me of the breeze that hits your face on a soft summer night . . . light and full of sweet flavor. It’s easy going and laid back. Don’t sweat the thyme if you don’t have it. The soup will still knock your socks off, regardless.
When your soup gets nice and hot (but not boiling), go ahead and thicken it up. To do this, take your cornstarch and mix it with a few tbsp. of warm water. In a separate bowl, using a butter knife, stir your cornstarch/warm water mixture together. It won’t seem like the cornstarch wants to mix together with the water. It doesn’t want to play on the playground with the other kids! But keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the bowl, and, eventually, the mean old cornstarch will play nice and mix with the water. Keep stirring right up until you add it, or the cornstarch will try to separate out of the water. Pour everything right into the soup and immediately stir the soup. The mixture will thicken as it heats. Just keep stirring over medium low heat. Make sure to scrape the bottom so the cornstarch doesn’t stick. And, before you know it . . . presto! Your watery soup will be a nice, thickened stew. At this point, turn off the heat. ‘Cause soup’s on!
Isn’t that beautiful? And it smells absolutely incredible in here. Wow. YUM.
And you haven’t even tasted it, yet. Go ahead. Taste the broth, first. It is so light and delicate . . . with just a hint of flavor. The taste travels back on your tongue, starting soft, and ending with just a bit of spice, and a kiss of delicate mushroom flavor. Perfection, isn’t it?
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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