Recipe: Homemade Cremini Mushroom Soup

Ditch the can. Control the sodium. 

If you have the option to make fresh dishes, opt for that. That's not to say I don't love canned goods. I do! Especially Spam and corned beef (Go ahead! Judge me!). But when you get into the other canned goods like soup, chilli, mushrooms, beans, etc..... I'd rather the fresh counterpart. Oh! And, when the pandemic hit, we went on a shopping extraction of canned goods in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I've seen waaaaayyy to many movies for my imagination to go haywire. While everyone was panicking for toilet paper, we went straight for Spam (and chips and chocolate). 

One of my husband's shopping items when I was on a soft-food diet (because of my surgery), was soup. And he bought a lot of soup! Broccoli and cheddar, clam chowder (I made a version of this too, you can find the recipe here - Clam Chowder), and cream of mushroom soup. Yeah, they were convenient at the time. But what concerned me the most was the amount of additives and sodium that was in it. I mean, when I eat Spam, I know to control my salt intake for the rest of the week. But when you eat canned soup, you don't think it's loaded with salt. It is.... even if you get the low-sodium kind. 

Campbell's has been around since 1869. It wasn't until 1934 that the "Cream of Mushroom" soup variety showed up in the grocery aisles. A creamy mushroom soup is really just a sub-variety of the Bechamel sauce - thick and creamy. Then you add some mushrooms and your aromatics (onions/shallots and garlic) as well as your herbs (you can even add some nutmeg to this). Yes, America made history in providing us all the convenience of canned soup (especially thankful for them for feeding the troops and army with this). And yes, I will sometimes open a can in case I have no time to make it. But it's just soooo much better when you make it fresh. There's just so much more texture, character, and body to the soup when you let it simmer, slowly bubbling to delight your tastebuds later on.

(Side note: The tough part when I'm writing the recipes down is really remembering or guesstimating the quantities of what I added. Thank God for my photos!)

Homemade Cremini Mushroom Soup
This will make 2 servings. Or 3-4 smaller servings (just check the liquid content of this recipe- it's only really 3 cups). Just double on the ingredients if you're serving for 4 people. Better to have extras than run out on this. We're just 2 in the house so I didn't want to make such a big batch. 

You'll need a chopping board, a knife, a heavy-bottom pot (or dutch oven), a wooden spoon, spatula, and a food processor (I used my Ninja again). 

half of a white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 punnet of fresh cremini mushrooms (usually come at 227g), sliced
1/2 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp oregano, dried
2 tbsp butter, unsalted 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
a bay leaf (optional - to be honest.... I forgot to add this)

croutons for topping before serving

1. Slice the mushrooms and set aside. Chop the onion and mince the garlic.  
2. On medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onions. Once translucent, add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the dried herbs and sauté. (Add the bay leaf here too... if you remembered.)
3. Add the sliced mushrooms and the butter. Continue to sauté until mushrooms are tender. 
4. Add the flour and make sure to coat everything. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes to make sure the flour is well toasted. Add the cream and the stock and bring to a slow simmer for about 7-10 minutes. (You can add more stock if it's too thick for you).  
5. Take 1/3 of the mixture (remove the bay leaf first if you added it and discard it) and pulse with your food processor until fine and thick. Make sure to protect yourself with a towel and cover any openings of the food processor (like the spout, it's hot!). Return the pureed  mixture to the pot and stir until fully incorporated with the whole batch. Add a dash of Worcestershire, remove from the heat, and season with salt and pepper. 

6. Time to enjoy! Top with croutons before serving. You can even add a tsp of butter to the pot right before serving just so it has that sheen. 

*I understand not everyone can have dairy in it's fullest and finest. Not a problem - you can make this with chicken stock instead and either lessen or omit the cream altogether. You can increase your flour so it thickens. You can use low-fat milk instead of the full-cream version. 

**You can definitely puree the whole soup. I just prefer that there are some whole mushroom chunks that I can identify. Gives it a more rustic feel and adds to the texture of the overall dish. You can have this as a main course (just serve with some good French bread) or serve as a starter. 

***Don't stop at cremini mushrooms. I just use them often in my cooking so it's always available in my pantry. Go ahead and try some white button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake, chantrelle, and even some porcini mushrooms (just make sure to rehydrate these). I wouldn't use portabello because they have a more mature taste - they're basically the mature versions of cremini or bella mushrooms. So they will definitely contribute heavily on the earthy taste. Plus, you can use portabello mushroom in so many other dishes. Such as waste if you just chop this up. 

****Another tip. After sautéing your mushrooms, set some aside so you can use them as a topping. Make sure they're nicely browned and caramelized for a better visual. 

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