Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup…God it’s disgusting…
My mother is from Arkansas and my father is from Kansas; and while you could say that’s the South, I would classify it more as the Midwest. Which means: I grew up on casseroles. Damn near every casserole we ate had Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup as the base. And I did not like it. Beyond that growing up in the 80’s and the 90’s in Texas, fresh mushrooms weren’t something that was served at our dinner table…ever…so my parents ate a lot of canned mushroom (I know, it’s gross…I love you mom and dad, but canned mushrooms and Cream of Mushroom Soup were poor parenting choices, you’ve pretty much ruined mushrooms for Meg for life…I blame y’all…). So I hated mushroom, for a long time. Until one day in my 20’s I had a fresh mushrooms seared and braised in a pinot noir sauce, and it was a revelation. I didn’t know mushrooms could taste so good! Since then I’ve been a mushroom fanatic.
So when I stared this blog, I knew one of the soups I wanted to make was a cream of mushroom soup that actually tasted, a) like mushrooms; and b) good!
I was going to teach you how to make a roux, but I’ll let the expert, Michael Ruhman do that for you….
The great thing about a roux is you can make a bunch ahead of time and freeze it (I roll it in plastic wrap, freeze it, and then cut it into about tablespoon-sized slices, then put it in zip bags in the freezer…it’ll last a while since there’s a good amount of fat in there).
Serves 6-8, Difficulty: Easy to Medium
- Mushrooms – about 1.5 lbs from the store, a mix: I used about a half-a-pound of shiitakes, a half-a-pound of portobello, and a half-a-pound of brown cremini, stems removed from the portobellos and the shiitakes (shoot for about 2 lbs. if the portobello and the shiitakes have the stems attached), dirt brushed off with a paper towel – Portobellos sliced into thin strips, creminis halved or quartered, depending on their size – plus extra shiitakes or portobellos for garnish.
- Carrot – 1, peeled, small diced
- Shallot – 1, small dice
- Garlic – 3-4 cloves, minced
- White wine – about a cup, preferably a chardonnay
- Mushroom stock – 1 quart (see “Stock” link)
- Roux – about 3-4 tablespoons
- Heavy whipping cream – 1 cup
- Thyme – about 4 sprigs
- Bay leaf – 1-2
- Vinegar – to taste (I used chardonnay vinegar, but again, any white wine based vinegar will do)
First you want to deal with the mushrooms. I seared both the shiitakes and the portobellos, and sautéed the creminis to develop a good flavor before pureeing. To sauté, you need a nice pan (cast-iron or stainless steel), high heat, and a good amount of oil. Begin with the shiitakes – with a pan, smoking hot over high heat, add a good amount of oil to the pan and when it’s almost smoking, with good ripples in the oil, add a small amount of mushrooms, cap side down. Immediately press them down with a large spatula and sear for a good minute. Flip and repeat with the bottom side. Remove from the pan to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Repeat with any more shiitakes you have. If there are any burned parts on the pan, pour out the oil (not down the sink…you know that right?…), wipe the pan down with a paper towel, and start with fresh oil. Repeat with the portobellos.
For the creminis, get the pan over high heat again and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until they are soft, but still hold a bite. Remove, again, to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Return the pan to a medium-high heat and sauté the carrot and shallot, with a pinch of salt, for about two minutes (with fresh oil if you need it…if the pan isn’t burned from the mushrooms, pour out some of the oil until you have about a tablespoon or so in the pan). Then add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf(ves), and all the mushrooms and sauté for a couple of minutes more. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce, on high heat, until almost dry.
Place everything into a bowl, with a cup of the mushroom stock, and puree…as you can see, it doesn’t look too nice right now…it’s okay, give it some time… Wipe down the pan.
If the mushroom stock is warm…
Pour the rest of the mushroom stock into the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Begin whisking the cold roux into the stock until there are pretty much no more visible chunks of roux. Bring it to a simmer/boil (a roux will not reach it’s full thickening strength until it boils) and check for thickness. You check the thickness by the back of a spoon. Place the back side of the spoon into the sauce, remove it, and swipe your finger across it. If it leaves a line in the spoon for a few seconds before the sauce begins to work its way down the spoon, you’re set. If not you may need to whisk in some more roux or a bit of flour.
If the mushroom stock is cold…
Place the roux in the clean pan and begin to warm it until it just begins to bubble. Begin pouring the cold stock into the pan, a little bit at a time, whisking until there are no lumps. Check the consistency, again, by the spoon test.
Congrats…you just made a gravy!
Scrape all of the sauce into the bowl and pour in a cup of heavy whipping cream. Puree just until smooth. Check the salt levels (I actually added a lot of salt to this dish, I just kept tasting and realized that mushrooms can actually take a good amount of salt before it tastes just perfect) and splash in a bit of vinegar. I know I always say I like my soups to be bright, but don’t add too much vinegar here. This is an earthy, umami-packed, soup – I want that to come through, I actually don’t want this soup to be bright! If you want to get super fancy, you could then pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer or a tamis to get a super smooth consistency.
Pour into bowls and top with sliced sautéed mushrooms.
This soup is absolutely wonderful and has saved the Cream of Mushroom Soup name. I love the fact that this is an all mushroom soup – fresh mushrooms and mushroom stock really takes this soup to a new level.
All ingredients from Trader Joe’s and Lazy Acres, Long Beach
Music recommendation for cooking: The Frames, Fitzcarraldo. This sophomore release from The Frames (all the way back in 1996) is one of my favorite albums and The Frames are probably my favorite band. Glen Hansard is the lead singer and has toured with the band, solo, and with Marketa Irglova – who he is probably best know with for winning an Oscar with for their song “Falling Slowly” for the movie Once. I have never seen anyone who can captivate an audience like Glen Hansard. If he, The Frames, or Swell Season (he, Marketa, and most of the rest of The Frames) ever come to your town, stop what you are doing, get tickets, and go have your life changed!
Drink choice for cooking: Deschutes Foray IPA. A great beer from a great brewery in Oregon. They continually make great beers (like the Black Butte Porter, Fresh Squeezed IPA – maybe my favorite from them – to name a few).
Drink pairing recommendation: You need a nice wine to pair with this and any good chardonnay (either Californian or Burgundy) will pair nicely with this.