Cream of Mushroom soup is a staple in this house. Mushrooms are fascinating to me. Think about it for a second. Who the hell walked up to a pile of shit, or a musty old log and said “I’m gonna eat the first thing that grows on that”? Thank Jeebus for that person. Don’t add too many things to this soup. It’s beauty and incredibly balanced flavour is created by is it’s simplicity. Overcomplicate it with stupid ingredients and whatever you think sounds good on the spice rack, you’re guaranteed to lose what makes this soup so damn good. Salt, pepper, thyme and maybe a splash of soy. That’s IT! Don’t get all funny with it 😂
First, let’s talk about how cool fungus can be. I hated mushrooms as a kid. I would pout and cry like a loser at the slightest trace of one on a pizza slice. If you told me then I would grow up to love them, I would have called you a liar. As my palate evolved, so did my fascination and respect for these little delicious spores of amazement. We use six different types of shrooms for our soup. You can mix and match to your liking after reading about the different flavour profiles of them and make your soul your own. This is how we like it.
Enoki mushrooms have a very mild, delicate, savory flavor and a firm, slightly crisp texture. These long-stemmed, small-capped white mushrooms are versatile and commonly used in Asian cuisine. Served raw, they add a crispy crunch to salads and sandwiches. They’re also delicious cooked in soups, stir-fries, risottos and ramen noodle dishes.
In Japanese, shiitake means “oak fungus,” which describes where the mushrooms can be found in the wild. These days, however, most shiitakes are cultivated. They’re best identified by their umbrella-shaped brown caps, which curl under ever so slightly. Fresh shiitakes have a light woodsy flavor and aroma. These guys are super-versatile and great in just about anything.
King Trumpet (I like this guy. He does a lot)
This one is the neatest ones when it comes to side benefits. The mushroom has a good shelf life and is cultivated widely. It has little flavor or aroma when raw. When cooked, it develops rich umami flavor and a meaty texture. Also known as Pleurotus eryngii, it is said to contain chemicals that triggers immune response. Dietary intake of Pleurotus eryngii may function as cholesterol-lowering dietary agent. Still being studied, but like some other Pleurotus species, P. eryngii, it’s said that attacks nematodes, and may provide a control method for parasites when they infect cats and dogs. How feckin’ cool is that?!
Although these can be found in the wild growing on the sides of trees, the ones you’ll find in the store or on a menu are most likely cultivated. Like their namesakes, they’re whitish in color and fan-shaped, and possess a delicate odor and flavor. Oyster mushrooms are found in many Japanese and Chinese dishes such as soups and stir-fries.
Trumpet-like, with a depression in the center of its cap, the chanterelle is one of the most popular wild mushrooms. (Because they’re notoriously difficult to cultivate, chanterelles are usually foraged in the wild.) Golden-hued, fleshy and firm, they’re described as having an apricot-like scent. They’re common in many European cuisines, including French and Austrian, and are also native to the United States. They are particularly abundant in the West and Pacific Northwest from September into the cold months.
A crimino is a young portobello. Although the crimino is darker, firmer and more flavorful than its cousin the white button mushroom, the two can be used interchangeably. Increasingly, retailers hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the portabellos are selling crimini mushrooms as “baby bellas.”
Last, but certainly not least. Prized by chefs, their intense nutty and woodsy flavours are not overpowering, but they are distinct. You can always tell when dishes contain morels. Morels have a meaty texture but are really tender at the same time. Morels are at their best when cooked simply to showcase their unique flavour. Fresh morels are tasty when lightly sauteed with a white wine and cream sauce using fresh herbs. Rehydrated dried morels are less expensive than fresh morels and are available year-round. They’re particularly delicious in broths and sauces
Shut Up, Nerd and make the soup!
What you need:
- 700-1000g of Mushrooms – Mix and match and use your favourites
- Butter – For your roux and sauté
- 4tbsp All Purpose Flour for the roux
- White Wine
- 5-6 Garlic Cloves Crushed
- 1 Sweet Onion finely chopped
- 2-900ml Cartons of Chicken Broth
- 1-500ml Carton of Heavy Cream
- 250ml Regular Sour Cream
- A splash of Soy Sauce (optional)
- Grated Old Cheddar Cheese for garnish
- Fresh Sourdough Bread
We start by SLOWLY (and I mean lowwww heat. Like one notch above the lowest setting on your stove top) sauteing 5-6 roughly chopped garlic cloves in a sea (about a 1/4 cup) of butter (or ghee if you’ve got some.) Ghee is great because it’s just butter with the whey removed, meaning it’s not going to burn on you. Once the garlic is softened, we add a whole roughly chopped sweet onion. Slowly simmer these off together just like when we make onion soup. You want them to gently release the sugars without burning them. If these are done in less than 20-30 minutes, you did it too fast! If it’s browning the pan, deglaze with some white wine and turn the damn heat down.
While the onion and garlic are SLOWLY simmering off, chop up the mushrooms (about 750g-1000g of whatever mix you like. Remember they cook down) into a rough chop. When the garlic and onion is done, add all the mushrooms and maybe a little more butter. Don’t turn the heat up. Mushrooms are loaded with water. You wanna let these SLOWLY start to release that water. You’ll see it get more cloudy after about 5 minutes. Now add a splash of white wine (1/4c) and turn that heat up a little and let all that water evaporate. Hit it with a shake or two of soy sauce here. It becomes an amazing concentrated medley of mushroom, onion and garlic.
Don’t Puree! Leave it Chunky!
Once the mushrooms are lightly cooked and that water has reduced, remove it from the heat. Let it cool because it’s going in the food processor. I don’t like using the blender because I like little chunks in my soup.
While that cools, get a pot of two 900ml cartons of chicken broth simmering. Add in a 500ml carton of heavy cream and half (250ml) container (the big guy) of 14%mf or higher sour cream. Whisk vigorously until it’s all mixed well. Tie up a few sprigs of thyme and toss them in while it’s simmering.
The Home Stretch
Make a roux. I’m not going to explain it here how to make a proper roux. It’s simple. Google it. You’ll wanna get one that has at least 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour in volume. Once it’s done, whisk it into your cream stock.
Blitz the cooled shrooms, garlic and onion. Stir that into your cream stock. Let is simmer on low, whisking well for about 5-10 minutes. Remove the thyme bundle. Salt and pepper to taste (a few splashes of soy doesn’t hurt here either for a more umami, even saltiness if needed) and serve with grated old cheddar and sourdough bread.