I haven’t cooked mushroom soup often over the years and on the occasions that I did, I found that they never quite measured up to my childhood memory. Until now!
For this recipe I combined three types of fresh mushrooms (portobellini, white button, and oyster) with a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. If you do not have dried mushrooms, don’t fret. You may not have the same depth of flavor but the soup will still taste great using chicken stock.
I did not want a typical cream of mushroom soup but did want to add a hint of decadent luxury. To achieve this I made a brown butter roux and added the mushroom broth and lastly the cream, to prevent the cream splitting.
The soup has just enough texture and flavor contrasts to hit the spot. Leftovers, if any, can be frozen and reheated later (after defrosting in the refrigerator), without any change in the flavor. Don’t forget to add the lemon juice and chopped parsley before serving for an extra punch of flavor.
While writing this post I remembered my very first taste of cream of mushroom soup…
Our neighbors had invited us to a holiday resort near Hermanus in South Africa, for Christmas lunch. I was not feeling very well after a spending much of the day in the swimming pool under the hot summer sun, but my parents couldn’t leave me behind, alone in the rondavel. Christmas dinner was being served in the ballroom (the sports hall all dollied up for the occasion), but they were overbooked and set up a few tables in the main dining room and reception area of the resort.
The first course was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted: Cream of mushroom soup. I don’t remember anything else on the menu :). As a five year old who had never tasted mushroom soup before, it was the most exotic thing I could imagine.
In our family home, vegetable and split pea soup with lamb or beef were usually the order of the day, and preferred by everyone else in the household. I was the only one who was not really a fan, until the first time I ate soup in Istanbul on my first visit 15 years ago. It was practically obligatory to add a squeeze of lemon to any type of soup served as a first course with lunch or dinner. The acidity of the lemon appeared to enhance the flavors of the slowly cooked vegetables and made it dance on the tongue. I have loved soup ever since.
This mushroom soup recipe combines dried and fresh mushrooms with vegetable stock and cream for an indulgent and warming dish that is hard to beat.
- 4 dried porcini or shitake mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 250 grams portobellini mushrooms, reserve 3 for garnish
- 250 grams white button mushrooms, reserve 3 for garnish
- 100 grams oyster mushrooms, reserve 2 for garnish
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or parsley (they have different flavors so choose one only)
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 100 ml cream
- ½ lemon, zest and juice
- extra chopped parsley for garnish
- In a small bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with a cup of boiling water to completely submerge them and let soak for at least 20 minutes until ready to be added to the soup.
- Remove and discard the fresh mushroom stems and chop the caps into a small dice.
- In a pot, melt the butter in the oil and add the onion and celery and sweat for 10 minutes.
- Next, add the chopped mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes before adding the sliced garlic.
- When the mushrooms start to release their liquid, add the soaked dried mushrooms that have been chopped up and continue cooking until all the liquid has disappeared.
- Add the strained soaking liquid to the mushrooms in the pot with a teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the stock and parsley and then bring to the boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Set aside a cup of the broth without any mushroom pieces for the roux.
- Finely slice the reserved mushrooms and sauté in a hot pan with 1 tablespoon of butter until browned at the edges.
- Remove the mushrooms from the pan and add the other tablespoon of butter.
- To the melted butter add a tablespoon of flour and stir quickly to cook the roux.
- Add the reserved broth a little at a time and whisk continuously until the sauce is thick and smooth.
- Add the cream and simmer for another minute.
- Blend the soup with an immersion blender or in a stand blender until smooth, adjusting the seasoning if required.
- Add the creamy roux to the soup and blend again.
- Return the soup back to the heat until it comes to a bubble, before serving.
- To serve, garnish with a few sliced mushrooms, a sprinkling of parsley, a pinch of lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice in the centre of each bowl. A few slices of crusty bread on the side will be good too.