If you’re anything like me, you always have a couple of cans of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup lurking in your pantry. It’s a staple that’s particularly important this time of year when many of us turn to “Umm, Umm Good” ingredients like those to complete time-honored holiday recipes. Until recently, I couldn’t imagine making Green Bean Casserole, a Shrimp Mold or Mock Oyster Dip without it. Then one day I decided, “Enough with the canned stuff!” And I began working on my own recipe. Here are three reasons why you should try it:
- Making Cream of Mushroom Soup from scratch is incredibly simple (especially when you buy mushrooms already sliced);
- Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup will knock any casserole, Shrimp Mold, dip or other recipe out of the park; and
- A hot bowl of Cream of Mushroom Soup is a spectacular comfort food in and of itself.
It’s all about concentrating flavors. So follow the steps in the order listed. Homemade stocks will also make a huge difference in this recipe. If you don’t have any chicken or beef stock on hand (I use a combination of both in this recipe), try to find high quality chicken base and beef base. I’m not talking about the powdered or cubed stuff. What you need to get your hands on is a product like Minor’s (made by Nestle). It’s basically a container of concentrated chicken (or beef) drippings. If your local grocery store doesn’t carry them, try Sam’s, Costco or BJ’s. If you find them, dissolve half a tablespoon of chicken base and a fourth of a tablespoon of beef base into 3 cups of warm water. Substitute that for the chicken and beef stock/broth called for in the recipe.
Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe
2 pounds fresh mushrooms (I like a mix of cremini, shiitake and oyster)
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock or broth, warm
1 cup beef stock or broth, warm
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushroom by wiping them off with a dry paper towel. Trim any tough stems and slice. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl; set aside. In the same pan, melt the reserved 4 tablespoons butter. Add the onions and sauté until tender. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Return mushrooms and any accumulated liquid to the pan, add the bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Stir in the cream, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and parsley. Cook until heated through, about 10 minutes more. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.* Makes about 6 cups or 6 servings.
*For a smooth consistency, which may be preferred when using the soup as part of another recipe, remove pan from heat and puree with an immersion blender (or process in batches in a standing blender).